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Questions and Answers.

[Our subscribers are invited to send in questions for this department. Please write them on one side of the paper only, and not with other things on the same sheet. In Every Case the Writer’s full Address must be Given, or the questions will receive no attention. In no case will the writer’s name be printed to the questions in The Etude. Questions that have no general interest will not receive attention.]

E. J. K., Jersey City.—Yes; the relative minor of a major scale is a minor third below the key-note of the major.

The Mason finger-exercises are the best to be used, not only in the third and fourth grades, but in all other grades, from the earliest to the most advanced.

A. B., N. Y.—What your ear evidently needs is a thorough training in the Tonic-Sol-Fa method. At least, if the Tonic-Sol-Fa notation is not used, you ought to have a course of the kind of training in singing by syllable that Dr. Lowell Mason and his pupils used to give their classes. What you lack is not natural ear, but training in the perception of tonality, i. e., the relation of all the tones in a melody or harmony to the key-note. You surely ought to be able to find some one in New York who can help you out of this difficulty. I have no doubt Dr. Wm. Mason, a son of Dr. Lowell Mason, can tell you of some one. Inquire for him at Steinway Hall. You will hardly be able to overcome the difficulty by yourself.

M. des S., Point Pleasant, N. J.—Every piano teacher feels your difficulty in the way of teaching harmony and dictation. Nevertheless, there is no real knowledge of music, no intelligent appreciation of it in its full significance, without a knowledge of harmony, and especially of tonality. And this latter is best taught by exercises in dictation, requiring the pupil to sing different tones in relation to the keynote and to write down tones heard. Some time in every lesson ought to be devoted to these points, even if only a few minutes. These are the “rudiments” of musical intelligence. Without them, the mere mastery of the keyboard and the ability to play notes seen will amount to very little.

3. I do not remember the question you refer to, nor do I know who answered it. My own belief is that the teaching of the scale should be begun at the very start. Teach it by ear; make the pupil sing it by syllable; teach the fingering of the scale in one octave very soon and then extend it to two octaves. You are certainly right in thinking that the pupil ought to know the scale of the piece she is playing. Or it would be better to say that she must know the key of the piece—the relations of all the tones to the keynote. This includes the scale.

L. M. y Av., de la Academia de Musica de Caracas, Venezuela. —1. Leschetiztky is reported to have said that “he had no method.” This probably means simply that he does not force every pupil into the same routine, but adapts his methods to the special needs of each pupil. Of course, he must have definite principles and methods of technic; but what those are I do not know precisely. I suggest that you inquire of Mme. Fanny Bloomfield Zeisler, 307 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Ill. She was one of Leschetitzky’s best pupils and is one of the finest pianists I know of.

2. The Rosenthal technical exercises you mention are on the same plan as those of Plaidy. They are based essentially on the “blow” principle, and really make no provision whatever for the extremely important points of lyric quality and the power of discriminative emphasis. This is not to say that concert players trained in these methods never possess these qualities; but when they do, they acquire them outside of the exercises provided in such methods as Plaidy’s and Rosenthal’s; often, I think, without knowing how they got them, purely by the instinctive effort to realize a musical (not a mechanical) ideal. Lyric quality and discriminative emphasis are best secured by a pressure touch; not by a blow. This touch is attained in two ways: (1) by a pull of the finger; (2) by utilizing the weight of the arm. The Mason “Touch and Technic,” concerning which you inquire, aims at a pressure

touch by means of a pull, mainly. It is, consequently, based on a very different principle from that of the Plaidy or Rosenthal technic. I have no doubt, myself, that this principle of pressure is the better one. I was once thoroughly trained in the Plaidy methods at Leipzig, but I have long since discarded the Plaidy technic in favor of Mason’s.

3.  I believe that the four volumes of Mason’s “Touch and Technic” constitute ample provision for technical work for the most advanced players through life. Any pianist can keep his technic in good condition by its daily use, and with the least possible expenditure of time and work on mechanical exercises.

4.  The amount of time to be devoted to mechanical exercises will vary with different players and different circumstances. Each pianist has to judge for himself how his work ought to be distributed. This will soon be learned by experience.—J. C. F.

R. H. F.—The difference between Theory and Harmony as usually seen in current musical literature is not very clearly separated. In the dictionary of Stainer and Barrett the authors say: “The science of music.—The speculations arising from a knowledge of the principles of sound. The rules for composition and the arrangement of music for voices and instruments in rhythm, melody, harmony, counterpoint, and instrumentation.” While in Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians we find: ” A term often used in England to express the knowledge of harmony, counterpoint, thorough-bass, etc., as distinguished from the art of playing.” It may be said that when a well-known musician speaks of teaching theory he includes, under this term, theory, harmony, counterpoint, and the science of sound acoustics.                                                       C. W. L.

C. L. W.—Most certainly must the practice of a piece include the establishing as habit the musical content of the piece. While the hands are gaining a facile technic by exact repetitions, the brain must at the same time acquire the habit of giving the music an effective and heart-felt expression. Hence, necessity of occasionally playing the passage up to tempo, even at the risk of inaccuracy in detail. Much of the unexpressive, and at the same time brilliant, keyboard work seen and heard is evidently explained by the above. The pupil has failed to fix a habit of musical conception and expressive playing.

Y. F. W.—To a pupil of ordinarily good musical talent I would teach reading, if he were a slow reader, by the use of Kohler’s Op. 50, and in all he played would analyze the construction and point out similarities and repetition of form and motive. He would soon see that in nearly all group playing only a part of each group would demand separate or letter reading. This would relieve him of a large part of his difficulties at once. Of course, four-hand practice is always a help in reading, especially for time. There are two common hindrances with poor readers, they do poor fingering, this causing frequent halting, and they read in a dazed, half-seen way—they lack conciseness.                       C. W. L.

Y. F. C.—1. The first object in scale study is to secure a facility in playing runs. To early introduce the complications of the minor scales prevents the pupil from soon acquiring a facile run. With the first giving of the major scales, have the pupil play the corresponding arpeggio in the first position only, except when the pupil has a mature mind.

2.  The careless pupil is always a hard factor to deal with. I should first find out why the pupil is so careless as to make useless blunders. Without saying so to the pupil, I would take a part of several lesson hours to play different kinds of music, with the idea of finding out if the pupil took any interest in the playing of others, if the pupil liked music and what style of music. I would test the pupil’s voice to see if there was the ability to tell when a tone is true in intonation. I would pick out tones on the piano which were and were not in good tune and ask the pupil to listen and tell which was which. It may be that the pupil is simply stubborn and self-willed regarding the study of music; if so, much tact will be necessary in the conducting of these tests to not have them appear as such, but as a pleasant passing of a part of the lesson hour. It may be here said that it will not do for the teacher of such a pupil to exhibit, or even feel, impatience while giving the lesson. If upon a careful test it appears that the child really has no talent, frankly talk the case over with the parents, or if at a seminary with the principal, and advise that the pupil discontinue lessons.

3.  The pupil playing so softly from the arm can be corrected by making a specialty of the trouble in each lesson. Without trying to at once teach the wrist or hand touch, try to get her to play a very loud chord. In teaching the wrist touch, let the first lessons be on short distances—thirds or sixths, and repeating the same position instead of taking a new set of keys each stroke. Get the pupil to realize that she is to use a certain mechanical movement, not to play certain notes; it is how and not what she is to do. Perhaps the pupil is timid and over-much fears to make a mistake. She should know that a good, lusty blunder now and then is better than continual namby-pamby correctness.

4.  A very small hand is somewhat of a hindrance. Yet Von Bülow, Mr. Sherwood, and Chevalier De Kontski have small hands. The compositions of the latter abound in extraordinary reaches, and when playing them himself he passes his left hand upward in a flash-like movement, striking the desired keys in passing. For the extensions with the right hand he passes the hand to the right, meantime reversing it, turning it bottom side up, and lo! the tones sing out like so many flutes.                                                                  C. W. L.

C. F. R.—It is a common experience to have more or less pupils who cannot afford much if any new music, the tuition being all that they can pay. It is a hard matter to teach without a sufficient amount of music, but by removing the music pages from your music journals—and you should take several—you can have all the music needed for this class of pupils. It will do any prosperous teacher good to give, out and out, a fine piece of sheet music, now and then, to such worthy pupils.                                                                          C. W. L.

5. W. B.—Do not teach the child how to use the pedal until he can play well enough to make satisfactory music out of easy waltzes and

marches. Then teach its use on a piece that is well learned, so that the pupil can give his full attention to the pedal instead of the notes. It may here be remarked that the child should be impressed with the idea that the pedal is a sustaining pedal, and not a “loud” pedal. This should be amply illustrated at the instrument by holding down the pedal while playing two or three successive chords that are strongly dissonant, then striking all the notes used in the chords in a combined chord.                                                     C. W. L.

I. D. W.—If you have a fairly good voice and are interested in vocal music, and especially if you like children, it would be a wise thing to prepare yourself for teaching music in the public schools. Singing is always a help to the pianist, and to teach in the schools of a town makes acquaintances who may become your pupils on the piano; besides, the salary is generally acceptable to most any teacher.

C. W. L.

C. D. G. —You are right in demanding at least half of the tuition in advance, and the remainder at the half term. When pupils have paid in advance they are much less careless about missing lessons. The plan also enlists the active interest of the parents in regular practice. People try to get their money’s worth usually. C. W. L.

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