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Melody and Pedantry

The musical sky is so much obscured by the pompous arrogance and dicta of pedantry, and the insincere, rhapsodic vaporings of affectation, that frequent gales of common sense are needed to dispel the dense and suffocating clouds thus created, which impede the advancement of true musical education, darken appreciation, and beget the insincerity of moral cowardice in many well organized, genial people, making them feel ashamed to confess that they keenly enjoy melodious music; that they prefer musical expression to harmonic form devoid of it!
Life-work is embodied in two main, self-respecting obligations: one is cultivated ability to support life, the other, to make life worth living; the latter is largely achieved through attractive accomplishments, which give social value to their possessors. Bat both obligations should be as one and inseparable, in the application of attainment, making each an aid to the other. In this respect, a true education in music—implying, at least, fine performance and fluent reading of music at first sight— is the Alpha and Omega of all practical educacation (sic); for—as the Alpha—it is the only exercise in this life that trains the mental faculties to absolute concentration, thus insuring efficiency in all other skillful work, earnestly undertaken; and—as the Omega—it is chief of social ornaments.
Primarily, then, "the chief end" of musical education is the promotion of social value in the home circle, the church, the concert room, et al, and not an indiscriminate production of quasi teachers of music, nor of ponderous, automatic executants in velocity, as imitation artists. "Music is the affectionate art;" hence at the outset and onward, the study and practice of it must be made attractive to pupils and delectable to all. But the music that impractical pedants, and their proselytes, mostly flaunt as "classic" is, at best, only fine harmonic form, devoid of soul, of no musical worth, except to students of form in composition; and, in composition, harmonic form is the product of science only, while melody is the offspring of art—of inspiration; just as in performance, technique is science, merely to form a channel for the outflow of musical expression, and musical expression is the art, the eloquence of musical recitation, such as it may be—through conception and outflow—of any grade betwixt the extremes; from fine, impassioned and symmetrical, down to coarse, torpid and elliptical.
Rich men leaving large sums to charity overlook entirely the charity of music. The love of music in the human race is God given. Every heart responds to it in a greater or less degree. Even the drunkard has his bacchanalian songs, and the little ragamuffins in the street stand in delighted awe around the hand-organ. Why, a free concert once a week to these poor wretches now living their musicless—I can hardly say artless—lives, would be a priceless blessing.—Louisa Lear Eyre, in Harper's Weekly.

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