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Why Go Abroad To Study?


The prophet is not without honor save in his own country. So it is with the American music teacher. Anything that comes from a place that is not our home, is regarded as better than that which we get at home.

European teachers say their best pupils come from America. But when these best pupils are fully developed and come back to America, our wise Americans think them not good enough to study with, but must needs trot off to “Yurrup,”—and perhaps land in the hands of some teacher much worse than the despised American.

Bringing this idea down to a more practical point, some of our students in the smaller places will leave their homes, and at great expense go to a large city to study with some man who has a reputation—as a teacher?—no, a reputation as a player or singer, and who perhaps cannot speak ten sentences grammatically, and who is entirely devoid of the general education, the analytical powers, and concise methods of expression that go to make up the true teacher.

Some day they realize their error when they find that the despised teacher in their native town has been quietly turning out pupils that excel them in general musical culture and understanding, though perhaps lacking somewhat in conceit and technical fireworks. A writer in a recent magazine hits the nail on the head. He speaks a strong word for American teachers. It is hardly necessary to go to Europe now a-days. Europe has come to America—in the person of many of the best European art teachers. He says:—

I am persuaded that our home teachers are equal in every respect to the imported article. By and by we shall discover the mistake of believing that talent and genius are to be found only in Europe. What is required in a teacher is not genius but a capacity to think clearly and to explain intelligently; to understand and create understanding in others. Bad voices may be made good by intelligent study under a proper teacher, but there must be a receptive capacity on the part of the pupil. Awkward fingers may be made dexterous; but if nature has denied understanding to the pupil the most skillful instruction cannot supply the defect. A great musician is not necessarily a successful teacher; and contrariwise a successful teacher need not be a great musician. The amateur should remember that the larger part of his progress depends on himself; he may be guided and warned, but he cannot be made except by himself. In place of running after foreign notables the ambitious student should select a teacher in his native city and then settle down into hard and assiduous work. One thing is indisputable, music can be and is taught as well in America as in Germany or France, and here, which is an important matter, the moral atmosphere is more wholesome.

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