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Worthy of Comment

The practical turn of the American mind is stirring itself to meet a demand that has long been vaguely felt, but only recently put into a working form. It has first found expression in the State Normal Schools and colleges. Some of the best minds among our educators have been formulating a science of teaching music, and recently a number of the leading conservatories of music have added that department to their curriculum. This is a move in the right direction, and means much for the future of music in our country. It is already acknowledged that some of the best music teachers in the world are on this side the ocean, among American musicians. They are men and women who have availed themselves of the advantages given by the new science and art of teaching, added to their knowledge of music. The following, from The Teacher, speaks of this tendency among the higher institutions of learning :—
"The present movement to make the theory and practice of teaching a part of the university curriculum, limited though it is, marks a tendency to refute the once universal idea among university men that 'the mere possession of knowledge is a sufficient qualification for the business of imparting it.' The theory held by the most eminent philosophical thinkers, that the study of educational principles should form part of the education of every one, professional teacher or not, is making its way and forcing the universities to see that especially for the teacher of the young, mere scholarship is not enough for the profession of teaching.
"'It is towards this attainment that the energy of our most earnest educational thinkers is bending.' Professional training and consequently a higher uniform standard is the great need of the hour.'"
When a student of music hears a brilliant performer upon his instrument, the natural desire is to take lessons from such an one who shows such skill and art; but, unfortunately, these great performers are not always the best teachers. Miss Amy Fay expresses this very clearly, saying:—
"One would think all artists of high rank ought to be able to impart to their pupils the principles of a fine technique. Having surmounted the hill of difficulty themselves, they ought to be able to retrace their steps with a talented conscientious pupil.
"Such, however, is not the case. Whether it is they have forgotten how they arrived at a given result, or whether it is laziness and indifference on their part, I cannot decide. I am inclined to think they have never systematized their ideas into a defined form of expression. They play more by instinct than by rule. Yet rules are as important in practicing as in all other things.
"I have heard many artists play in the course of my life, but I have rarely met with one who could give me any practical hints about technique."
It may be further said that the great geniuses of musical art come to their skill largely by intuition and inspiration. The slow plodding road of the average pupil, where everything must be gained by hard work, close study and application, they know nothing of. Yet, when we wish to climb the Alps we secure a reliable guide, one who has often travelled the same path, and knows every turn of the way; so, in the study of music, if we wish the best instruction, it must be imparted by one who has trodden the difficult paths and found the successful one of all the intricate ways to reach the top. Amiel says: To do what is difficult for others is the mark of talent. To do what is impossible for talent is the mark of genius." From this it might be supposed that the genius, having the superior gifts, might be the better teacher, yet it is true that the one of mediocre talent, if that talent has been used to advantage, makes the most successful instructor. For, as one who has conquered all the obstacles of the way, he is able to assist his pupils where they most need help, to encourage them in discouragement, and point out the path of excellence which he himself has traversed.
It is the law of this world, that things unused rapidly decay. We may spend years in acquiring the working knowledge of a given subject, but unless we pursue the subject, we lose the knowledge to a great extent. This is well put in the following, by C. N. Crandall:—
"It is a melancholy fact that the water you have hoisted out of the well for the last ten years will not do for the stock this morning."
Applying this to the needs of the pupil, in order to save his advancement in playing, his practice must be continued.
The oft-quoted Book says: "No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom." When a person has thoroughly made up his mind to a point, there is hope of the accomplishment of the desire, and, having started in the course of study for the sake of becoming a musician, one needs the spirit of the Scotch woman, as illustrated in the following anecdote: "A Scotch woman decided with some others upon attempting some elaborate needlework. Some weeks later they met again and compared notes. The others had changed their plans for something easier, or more in the fashion, and they urged the old lady to follow their example. 'No, my dearies, it is easier for me to go on and finish this long piece of work, than to change my mind.'" Carlyle had some of the same spirit, when he said: "Conviction, were it never so excellent, is worthless till it convert itself into conduct. Nay, properly, conviction is not possible till then."

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