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Editorial Notes.


Inattention, it is said, is the pupil’s worst fault. There needs to be an effort made from the first lesson to teach the pupil to grasp a thing and not only to understand it, but take such a hold of it that it will be retained. As the hand takes hold of an object with a grasp that prevents escape, so the mind can grasp a subject so as to master and retain it.

A celebrated professor in one of the older colleges, called upon the writer to speak about giving his daughter lessons, and he made this remark: “My daughter does not know that she cannot get a lesson.” After teaching her some years, and many times giving her extraordinarily hard lessons, I found this to be a fact. It is a rare pleasure to have a pupil who always comes thoroughly prepared for the recitation.

This matter the teacher can control in a large measure. If the child is at all interested in music—and it is supposed to be from its taking lessons—there is a strong desire to please the teacher, and while the teacher should not give lessons too long nor music too difficult, if he will hold up to the pupil an ideal standard, and show the pupil how to attain it, the pupil will make an honest endeavor to meet his expectations.


Franklin said, “If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing well.” The art student must aim higher than this proverb indicates. Anything he does in art, must be done perfectly. To the music student any practice that falls short of perfection, is worse than no practice at all, as it is not only a waste of time, but a positive detriment to the pupil’s advancement, necessarily so because of the laws of habit. This is one of the points the teacher should instil into the pupil’s mind during the first lessons. The beginner can do his part as perfectly as the artist, and he is to be taught that no allowances are to be made for youth, or that he is but a beginner, for whatever is to be done, is to be done from an ideal standard. But here is where too many teachers fail. They are too lenient. They do not demand enough from their pupils in the quality of work. Less might be said about the amount of practice,but (sic) a great deal more should be said about the quality of practice.


An old proverb has it, “The fathers have been eating sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are on edge.” But if our best friend has eaten his dinner, it does not satisfy our own hunger. Similarly, it is useless for a teacher to count time for the pupil. It is as indispensable that the pupil should count and keep the time for himself, as that he shall eat for himself if he shall sustain his strength. This illustration can be truly carried still further. So long as life lasts we must eat, and so long as one is learning new music—yes, playing old pieces—he must count and keep time, even making a special effort to do so. One might as well undertake to drive a spirited pair of horses without lines, and expect them to turn to the left and right at bidding, and make his journey and return home safely, as to attempt learning a new composition without counting and thinking out the intricacies of its time.

Invariably, if the pupil finds a passage in which he sees no music, if he will play it in time and with marked accent, the content will be manifest. But this is only one side of the subject. Every observing teacher must have been surprised and often dumbfounded to find even among his intelligent pupils, many who were entirely unconscious of the most glaring errors in time. They could read notes and thought they clearly comprehended their inmost content; yet they did not carefully self-criticize their work. The remedy is concise reading in place of that which is unthinking, and they must make a distinct effort to think out the time in its exact detail, and then turn their attention to ascertaining whether the hands are giving a precise rendition of what the brain thought out. The hardest faults to overcome are those of time; concise thinking, and sharp, unflinching self- criticism is the remedy.

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