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Careless Beginners

A careless teaching of the elementary principles of any science or art will cause its results to be felt throughout the entire career of the student, and the baneful effects of such a course cannot be over-estimated. The attention of teachers and students should be repeatedly called to this matter of perfection in little things, because it is attention to little things that makes perfection. There is a growing inclination to slight elementary work, and pass it over as trivial and of no great import. Elementary drill once neglected in the early stages of instruction must forever be considered as hopelessly lost, when that time has passed. It can never be regained in after years. So, improve the opportunity while it is present. Keep in mind the Greek builders who fashioned their masonry with the same care and exactness, and chose as good material when they were yet below the level of the surface as when above it, even though its perfection might never be seen.
All certain and desirable growth is slow growth. The vine that springs up in a day may wither in the glare of the succeeding day's sun, but the young oak which requires a lifetime to reach even a moderate growth may breast the storms of scores of winters. The greatest results, productive of the most good, often spring from the smallest beginnings, which in themselves may have appeared most trivial or insignificant. The hare can run faster than the tortoise, but the latter wins the race. So, given a poor beginner beginning properly, and another beginner who may bid fair to surpass the great Liszt himself, and yet beginning wrong, and the poor student may be relied upon in the end to outstrip his more talented rival. The most prosperous beginners may bring about most disastrous endings. Fine talent which needed only a proper development to bring it out, is mistaken for genius; and a genius, according to popular fancy, does not require to be taught the minor details of an art, that knowledge comes to him by intuition. There is nothing more erroneous and absurd than such a supposition. Mozart, the greatest musical genius that ever lived, was one of the closest of students. "I assure you," he said one day to a friend, "none has devoted so much care to the study of music as I; there exists not a celebrated master whose works I have not diligently studied." The neglect of laying a firm groundwork will tell on the future progress of the students. Blow and bluster soon exhaust themselves; noise and fuss and ignorant pretension is never long mistaken for true talent.
The public in general now knows too much about music to be deceived. It requires more of an ordinary player of the present day than it did of the virtuosi of the past. It is impossible to become a prominent musician without a genius for genuine hard work, a willingness to study all the elementary principles and to master all the intricate and perplexing details of the art. Thoroughness in little things is absolutely necessary in the making up of a musician.
Yes, it pays to start well, to be patient, to be willing to work, tune or no tune, until every little trifle is fully understood. The pieces will take care of themselves, they can wait, they are in no hurry to be "executed," and the people in general are perfectly willing to forego the pleasure of hearing you play, my young friend, until you can prove yourself a deserving claimant for their attention and praise.—The Canadian Musician.

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