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Teachers' Roundtable




A highly-important subject of much practical interest which suggests itself as suitable for dis­cussion in this department is that of the “Music-Teacher’s Book-keeping.” The work of the teacher of music calls for some special methods in book-keeping and affords scope for much originality in treat­ment, since there are several sides to it.


In the matter of a record of lessons given there is much diversity among teachers and room for con­siderable ingenuity in book-keeping devices. On this subject alone much might be written and many valu­able and interesting suggestions offered. Of equal importance and perhaps greater interest would be a record of the teaching material (exercises, studies, pieces, etc.) used in the case of each pupil. Ap­parently not so much attention is given to this matter as might be. Such a record, if well kept and convenient of access, is of great assistance. In this connection it might be well to query to what extent the “card catalogue” system, now in use in many institutions and business houses, has been used by teachers or to what extent it might be made avail­able. It seems to us that in this department at least of the teacher’s book-keeping the card catalogue might be employed to great advantage.


In some systematic manner a roster of past, pres­ent, and prospective pupils should be kept, always available for instant reference. Such a roster is in­dispensable to the proper conduct of the business side of the teaching profession. Can any of our readers offer suggestions in this matter?


Most teachers conduct more or less of a business in sheet music, books, etc. This department seems to offer abundant opportunity for the invention of book-keeping devices covering the business relations of the teacher with his publisher and dealer as well as with his pupils.


The subject of the teacher’s book-keeping seems to open a wide field, and we hope our readers will give their earnest attention. We will welcome sugges­tions covering any and all departments of this sub­ject, trusting that their discussion may prove valu­able and of much general interest.


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A young lady, a graduate of a leading conserva­tory, went to a Western town of about 4000 in­habitants, seeking a field for the practice of her profession. She found that a local “conservatory” had been established which practically monopolized the supply of pupils. The director offered her a position as his assistant, but she was ambitious on her own account and refused. Finding the way closed here, she went to a smaller town about twenty miles away. She found that a teacher who had had a good class had just moved away. Knowing no one in the town, she made a careful canvass of the town, calling at every place where she might secure pupils. On being received, she stated her errand and asked per­mission to play. As a result of her aggressive efforts she had ten pupils the first day, and before her season closed, a large class. Pupils’ recitals and public concerts and a weekly meeting of the class proved valuable features for attracting public atten­tion and winning confidence in her work.—Anon.


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The music-teacher strives to advance his pupils for exhibition; this must be done or he will lose them, and the effort occupies all the time he has and cares to give. He has pecuniary matters which require his attention, the pupil is advancing fairly well, and will find his talent later,—the teacher is not expected to do everything; he does his part; plenty of time for the pupil to compose when he is in foreign schools. Too late! Too late! The rich­ness of rhythm within his young breast will not re­spond after years of hardship and endurance. Look into your pupil with mental eyes. How discover his ability? The playing by ear is a sure mark, the ability to combine sounds, the reproducing of selec­tions from once hearing, without having seen a copy, more often without knowing a note. According to the correctness with which a piece is reproduced can the ability be gauged. First it will be a popular air, or a song of the day, the child has “picked it out” without a lesson. Later he attends concerts and operas, comes home and plays the prominent airs, inserting many chords and harmonies that are his own. Trying to reproduce them he improves upon the original. He is henceforth in demand, can play anything he hears, can express anything he feels, and this came not from study, but from native ability. But he must be made to see that he must study all the more.


Realizing from the given symptoms that talent is there, take the pupil into the world of composition directly. The simplest rules are the ones necessary for him to learn. Drill him thoroughly in the writ­ing and copying of notes, staves, signatures, etc. Familiarize him with copying passages from studies; then when you ask him to find his own material he will appeal to his brain. He will call to mind some little melody of his own; encourage him to write this; do not require the first efforts to be lengthy. The interest excited will cause him to rewrite, change, and improve; this practice is of value; he becomes enthused, encouraged, and, when his musical ideas have been transferred to paper, observe his surprise! Self-confidence dimly is appearing; ambition is on the horizon. You have gained for him a foothold on the first round of the ladder Composition.— Virginia Lois Sharp.


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During my earlier teaching I had an experience with a pupil which I think will perhaps benefit other teachers if they should meet with similar cases.


This pupil read music (prima vista) so very slowly and laboriously that it was really painful to listen. I was tempted to attribute the fault to natural dullness, yet I found her extremely bright, vivacious, and well-informed on other subjects; so I could not conscien­tiously impute it to stupidity. Not troubling myself as to the why or wherefore of the appearance of the fault, but fully realizing that it existed, I sought a remedy for its eradication. I tried several different means, such as playing the right hand alone, then the left; the study of duets; pieces written entirely in the treble clef, etc.; but all of these methods proved fail­ures until I finally struck upon the plan of having the pupil call each note by alphabetical name before she struck it. Of course, this was slow work at the beginning, but soon the result was apparent. This manner seemed to have started her mind upon a dif­ferent and more direct route of approach toward the notes than she had formerly used, which, I am confi­dent, was that she invariably read the bass first as treble, then mentally transposed it a third higher and placed it two octaves lower in order to have it in the correct bass position.


Any one can readily see that by such a lengthy path to reach a note she was necessarily compelled to read slowly, but the method of pronouncing the name concentrated her attention directly to the point, and with a few drillings on this line I had no further trouble with the pupil who had once appeared stupid in reading music at sight. After this experience I have always remained true to the old method, taught me by my mother, of knowing the notes by name, not­withstanding some of the “up-to-date” teachers ad­vocate the plan of learning the position only.— Eugene F. Marks.


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You are reading Teachers' Roundtable from the May, 1902 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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