J. F.—Yes; it is well to be studying more than one piece at a time. A pupil will learn two or three pieces which he studies during each practice period in about the same number of days as if he was working only on one piece. In other words, by working at two or three pieces at a time, one can learn them all in about the same time he could have learned one of them. It is well known that the brain assimilates facts upon its own account, and it will weave the musical sensations into inner musical consciousness automatically.
F. N. Y.—The lines engraved under the bass () in the Heller’s “Thirty Studies” are the pedal indications. This way of marking its use shows exactly when to press and release the pedal. The publisher of The Etude has adopted this marking for his new editions of music.
W. J. I.—For the first lessons to a child try “Landon’s Pianoforte Method,” if a student of the piano, or the same author’s method for Reed Organs, if that is the instrument. In these books every help is given to both pupil and teacher for correct and interesting work. Both books give much attention to touch, phrasing, and expression.
E. H. B.—Your question with regard to rheumatism of the hands is hardly one to be answered in a musical magazine, for the reason that the disease is one form of a very intractable trouble that is puzzling in the extreme to the medical profession. So long as it is true that really eminent physicians are diametrically opposed to each other on the treatment proper for rheumatism, and so long as cases both severe and slight get well sometimes in a way that seems miraculous, as an apparent result of almost any kind of treatment, including the most farcical (such as wearing a pewter ring or carrying a horse-chestnut in the pocket), so long it will be wise to speak cautiously in a lay journal of the best plan for treating an unknown patient. Occasionally gymnastic exercises seem to benefit; more often rest is a better treatment; but in any case no harm will come from attention to diet, it being necessary to avoid especially strawberries, tomatoes, onions, garlic, sorrel, rhubarb, watercress, malt-liquors, acid wines, and coffee. A useful plan is to paint the affected parts with tincture of iodine reduced to half strength with alcohol, applying it three times a week. Remember that piano practice is a sort of gymnastics which may prove injurious. H. G. H.
H. F. B.—Continuous or through bass is just what the name implies, a bass that continues through several different chords. Thus, if you have the note C in bass and play chords of C, F, D, G, and C, you have an example of continued bass. Consult your musical dictionary.
B. W.—” Why do we not call C ’ do’ in every key? Why must we transpose at all?” There is a class of musicians who advocate a fixed “do,” among them Hullah and Theo. Thomas, but they have few adherents. Movable “do” is natural. It carries with it the idea of association of tones. It fixes the key-tone or tonic. If the syllables, Do, Day, Mi, etc., are used only for obtaining correct solfeggio, fixed “do” would be practiced more, but its main use is to establish the key or tonality. In this the tonic-sol-fa-ists have a great advantage. They have the “fixed do” with any change of key. For further discussion of this write to Bigelow & Main, publishers, 76 E. Ninth Street, New York city. They are agents for Curwens of London, the tonic-sol-fa publishers.
M. D. M.—You will find rules for fingering scales, arpeggios, double thirds, in Mason’s “Touch and Technic,” Vols. II and III also in Zwintcher’s “Technics.”
N. R.—The best works on musical history are Fillmore’s and Mathews’. Scribners have recently published several works on modern composers entitled “Masters of German Music,” “Masters of English Music,” “Masters of French Music.” The work we are now publishing, “Celebrated Pianists of the Past and Present,” would suit your Club. Send to publisher for this catalogue of musical literature.
H. R. D.—In teaching pupils to read vocal music there must be some plan by which attention is fixed upon certain things. The memory of pitch must be trained, also the perception of keynote, and the other tones of the key.
Definite ideas of intervals must be inculcated. Every time a tone is sung the mind must ratify the tone by certain definite processes. Now, if a pupil guesses at pitch simply, no valuable habits of mind are being formed, and the pupil will not become a reader of music.
The danger of using ah, or any syllable or vowel sound which does not in any way describe pitch, is that the pupil is likely to guess at tones instead of reading them. If the pupil applies the syllable do or re or mi to a note, he is obliged to go through a certain mental process. He cannot, for instance, apply sol to a note without first making up his mind that that note is five in the key, and without impressing upon his mind the characteristic sound of five, which will help him to read that member in any other key. He thus takes a step toward forming a certain habit of mind necessary to make a reader. A pupil who sings syllables must know what key he is singing in; one who does not is likely to save himself the trouble of knowing this. The old do, re, mi system, which has so long been established in this country, will have to be improved before long, for modern music has already left it somewhat behind; but it will probably always be the best system with which to start the average pupil in the way of reading vocal music.
Frederick W. Root.
Etude Magazine. October, 1894