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Studio Experiences



There are many amusing, instructive incidents in Studio Experiences. I have a little girl pupil, who is bright, talented, and full of life. When she finishes a particularly good lesson or successfully conquers a difficult passage she whistles. It does not sound anyways rude or incongruous, for she whistles out of very joyousness, like a bird.

Another, a boy, when taking his first lesson, worked painfully through a finger-exercise, and then said, with great explosive expression: “Gee!” The exclamation came out so unconsciously and purely thoughtlessly, and his evident impression of the difficult future of technical drill was so forcible and withal so comical, that I smile yet whenever I think of it. But that same little fellow now has settled down to work with a determination to do his best.



Little Catherine was about five years of age and had appeared in a pupils’ recital and listened attentively to the remarks of the persons near her. If hearing had been all, it would have been very well, but she allowed such comments as “Isn’t she too cute,” “She is just too sweet for anything,” and others of a similar character to turn her little head completely; so in her way she thought that she had the entire world at her feet, and that she had nothing further to learn in the music-line.

I observed this spirit of egotism growing day by day and taking possession of her better judgment, and thought of the fate of the toad that had en­deavored to swell until he should reach the magnitude of the ox, and wondered what would finally become of little Catherine if I did not curb this great uprising of her pride.

I was well enough acquainted with her disposition to know that to have a simple talk with her would be a mere waste of time and words, as her character was too self-poised, and of that caliber which re­quires an obstacle of her own manufacture to restrain her wilfulness. So I waited patiently, knowing that an opportune moment would arrive. This momentous time occurred at the next meeting of the sight-reading class. (If there is anything suitable to test one’s mettle and knock ego out, it is sight-reading of music.)

Catherine began her assigned duty and did well until she came to a tie in the piece, and then she repeated the second note.

“Wrong. You played that note when it should have been held down” I said, pointing to the particu­lar note.

“Why should you not have played that second note?” I questioned, looking at her.

“Because,” she faltered, and then removed her hands nervously from the keys and placed them in her lap; “Because”; she again hesitated and hung her head in shame for a moment; then slowly raising it she cautiously murmured “Because, because it is a knot.”

“It is not a knot, it is only a beautiful tie such as you would wear on a holiday” I replied, endeavor­ing at the same time to cover my amusement. I knew that the chagrin she had experienced was enough to one of her temperament to teach the lesson I so much desired without adding the sting of laughter.


At my regular class-meetings boys and girls both attend, but I also have occasional special talks with the boys alone. At such times I endeavor to draw them out,—to get them to talk to me and ask me questions; if I succeed, I am thus enabled to observe what it is, in music, which seems to them particu­larly attractive or interesting. I do not know that my experiences will be of interest to other teachers, but I enjoy them very much, and, possibly, they are, some of them, worth repeating. Recently a little fellow of nine years brought me a little melody he had “made up,” and had written, but when he played it to me he added what he called “the alto part,” saying he had discovered “how beautifully the ‘two voices’ sounded on the piano.” This little fellow has a natural ear for harmony, and will no doubt excel in the study of the same. Another fanciful, delicate, little fellow experimented in tone thus: He played several scales, using crescendo and diminuendo, to suit himself, saying to me: “It sounds like bells when the wind is blowing,—sometimes far away and then nearer and nearer still.” Another little fellow gave quite a good imitation on the piano of the clanging of our fire-alarm.

I have two boy pupils who were exceedingly reluc­tant to study music, but their parents were so anxious they should that they agreed, as they told me, “to give it a try.” They were intimate little friends, these boys; so I invited them to come to­gether and see me in my studio. They did so, and in course of conversation I found they were greatly interested in “the military”; so I played to them, after a little while, selecting a good stirring march and a hunting fanfare. Both were simple pieces,— compositions that they could follow and understand. After the first they had quite a little to say about the tramp of the soldiers, etc., and after the second I pictured a hunting scene until they showed intense interest. When they said good-bye to me one of them added: “I guess learning music is more fun than I thought.”

All boys like martial music, and love to hear about band instruments, how they are constructed, etc. We are collecting pictures of all such instru­ments for our class scrap-book.


One of my little pupils is an interesting little girl aged about ten years. Her parents are dead and she resides with an uncle. The other day she was chat­ting with me about her playing and practice,—and music in general,—when she added her regret that she had allowed her mother’s piano to be sold. I said: “I think I should not regret that, Gracie, for by the time you are a young lady your mother’s piano would probably be very old fashioned, and I think you told me awhile ago that your uncle in­tends to make you a present of a fine new one when you are eighteen, if you are a good little student now.” “Oh, yes,” she answered; “he is going to give me one, and it will be a nice, new, upright one; and, of course, mamma’s was only a downright piano.”

Art is only wise when it is unselfish. Musical art becomes wise and unselfish when it ceases to be a mere means of idle amusement, and becomes a source of character-building, soul-development, and pure en­joyment for the many.—Aubertine Woodward Moore.

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You are reading Studio Experiences from the May, 1902 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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