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Helping the Dull Pupil.

By Florence Ruella Kelly.
 
One of the great successes of the past theatrical season has been a play known as "The Climax." This play is in reality a kind of dramatized music lesson. In it the old music teacher says, in giving advice to a younger music teacher: "Take care of the dull pupils. The smart pupils may bring you fame, but the dull pupils are the ones who will bring you a living."
 
Surely every self-respecting teacher intends to make a living from his profession, and for most of them the slow pupils are a weighty problem. But aside from the business viewpoint, to the true teacher there are many incentives to give of his very best to the dull pupil.
 
Aside from the direct benefit that music may be to such a student for itself alone, it is a medium by which his faculties may be trained so that he may use them to better advantage along other lines later on in life. Music quickens the powers of observation. The pupil is taught that nothing is put into printed music without a purpose; not a letter or figure, not even a slur or dot, that is meaningless. His memory is developed and the ability to imitate, for his music must speak and tell something to the listener. And lastly, beauty in the realm of sound joins with poetry and sculpture and painting in stimulating a love for the beautiful wherever it may be found, whether in the glory of a sunset or in the nobility of a splendid life. If in any measure you can help the child in these ways, is not the task worth attempting?
 
Now as to the methods that must be employed. We must never lose sight of the fact that the child is growing physically and mentally. He is noted for his changeableness, and is about as fixed in his likes and dislikes as a weather vane. He doesn't know whether he likes music or not, and it is for the teacher to make the early impression such that he will make up his mind.
 
The sympathetic, tactful teacher, who would succeed where others fail, must have herself, first, patience—an unlimited supply. Remember what kind of a teacher she was to whom you looked, long ago, with the love and idealism of the child, and then be that kind of a teacher with all your might. Explain the hard things as though they were the most interesting subjects in the world. The next time he forgets begin again with fresh interest, as though you had never done so before. He can be led from the known to the unknown only one step at a time. You must not lose your temper, for that has nothing to do with making the point clear, and it is you who are at fault if at last he does not understand. Unless a teacher has patience in her stock of trade she ought never to have gone into business. She must love her pupil for himself and show that she is intereted (sic) in him outside of music lessons as far as possible; that he is a friend of hers, not a "child" to be patronized. Love your pupils and you need never fear for their allegiance to you. And then you must have enthusiasm—the kind that is contagious; that gives you the determination to achieve that which you have attempted; that makes you feel that, because difficulties are in the way, that is all the greater reason why you are going to make every effort to succeed. Then when the victory is won it will be one worth having, for you may know that these things have proved you truly a teacher—one worthy the name.

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