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Questions and Answers

E. W.—1. In teaching the minor scale it is well to familiarize the pupil with both forms, but it seems best to teach the harmonic form first. Some instruction books give the melodic ascending and the harmonic form descending. This is misleading and should not be done. The harmonic form is now printed in many editions of the scales.

2. In playing triplets an equal length must be given to all three sounds, but the first should be slightly, almost imperceptibly, accented. In no case should the last of the three be shortened.

3. There is some difference of opinion among teachers as to the subdivision of counts into “one and, two and,” etc. But the pupil must in some way be made to feel these distinctions from the very beginning. The use of the metronome is of great help.

G. W. B.—1. A good pupil having faithfully and thoroughly completed the work laid down in Landon’s “Foundation Materials” may be given Grade II of “Mathews Course.” Pupils differ, however, and in some cases Grade I might be needed. A pupil similarly having completed “First Steps in Pianoforte Study” might then take up Grade II.

2. In Dr. Mason’s two-finger exercises the unemployed fingers should remain in “stroke position.” In no case should they move in sympathy with the fingers performing the exercise. 

3. It is well to supplement the work of the “Standard Grades” with other exercises and pieces and to use “Touch and Technic” in conjunction with the entire course.

S. H. C.—A pupil should never be allowed to become careless in fingering. Accuracy should be insisted upon from the very start. In the case of a pupil having once acquired bad habits, slow playing must be resorted to, every indication of fingering being strictly followed. The fault may be remedied in time.

W. E. W.—Brilliant playing and rapidity of execution rest entirely upon thorough foundational preparation. The suggestions in “Mason’s Touch and Technic” for acquiring velocity will, if properly carried out, produce results eminently satisfactory. If you will do the work prescribed in all four books carefully and systematically you cannot fail of acquiring fluency of execution. Regular and diligent practice must be resorted to.

F. L. S.— 1. The distinguishing characteristic of a piano is not in the tuning, as you suggest, or the “voicing,” as perhaps you mean, but in various mechanical points, in which skill, experience, and excellence of materials enter. It is not possible to take a piano of one make and by some device or special skill in tuning make it closely resemble in tone the Steinway or Knabe.

2. Organs with electric actions are not slow in speaking, although if the organ is divided, one portion being in a gallery, distant from the main organ or in a tower, the sound of the distant organ will not reach the organist as quickly as will the tone of that portion close at hand. It is difficult, in such cases, to use the whole organ at one time.

A. H.—1. The Dominant is published at 20 W. Thirty-fourth Street, New York City.

2. We cannot pronounce on the relative merits of teachers.

3. A good book for studies in “Ear Training,” which is very essential in theory, is the one by Heacox, published by Theodore Presser. “Dictation Studies in Melody and Harmony,” by Frothingham, can be used with young pupils as you suggest.

M. W. C.—1. In arranging a choir place altos and basses together, sopranos and tenors, the latter on the soprano side of the organ.

2. Two boy sopranos will help in a choir, but are not so valuable, usually, as two ladies will be. Untrained boys’ voices are not desirable. Boys require special training in order to develop purity and volume in the head voice.

3. Wodell’s book on “Choir and Chorus Conducting” will be very helpful to you in your work.

4. Root’s “Methodical Sight Singing” will suit you for work with a class in the rudiments of vocal music.

I. G.—The direction at the beginning of a piece, M. M. followed by a quarter, a half note, as the case may be, equals a certain number, means that when the pointer on the slide of the metronome is set to the number indicated there will be that number of beats to the minute. The note shows what note value is to be the unit of measurement. Suppose it says: M. M. a dotted quarter equals 76. Set the metronome to 76, start it swinging. Each beat of the pendulum marks a beat in the tempo desired, and a dotted quarter note is to get one beat. Sometimes by an error of the engraver or proofreader the dot is omitted. One must observe the time signature. Thus in the case of a piece in 6/8  or 3/8 time, if the metronome directions read a quarter note equals 126, the likelihood is that it should be a dotted quarter note of the movement is to be quite fast,—say, marked vivace or presto; otherwise possibly the hook was omitted and the direction should be for an eighth note.

T. E.—1. We have sent your request for help in outlining a course of study for grades 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 to Mr. N. J. Corey, editor of the Teachers’ Round Table, as published in The Etude. The only book that covers the subject is Prentice’s “The Musician,” which does not include some new works. It is a very valuable help to a teacher in the selection of standard teaching pieces.

2. Use Tapper’s “First Studies in Music Biography,” and Shepard’s “Children’s Harmony” for your pupils in this grade.

F. E.—1. The relations of the etude to the leading piano teachers of the united states are such that we cannot make comparisons between them. Chicago is the nearest large music center to your place of residence. We advise you to go there. You will find advertisements of the leading schools and teachers of that city in the etude.

2. Opinions as to the greatest living pianist will differ. Paderewski is perhaps the most popular; other great artists of international fame are Hofmann, Carreño, Hambourg, Gabrilowitsch, Zeisler, Rosenthal, Joseffy, and Godowsky.

M. W.— 1. Alexander Ernst Fesca was born at Karlsruhe, May 22, 1820, and died at Brunswick, February 22, 1859. He was taught by Rungenhagen, Schneider, and Taubert, in Berlin, made sensational concert tours from 1830 to 1840 and in 1841 was appointed chamber-virtuoso to Prince Furstenberg and settled in Brunswick in 1842.

He brought out two operas, “Marietta” in 1830 and “Die Franzosen” in Spanien in 1841, in Karlsruhe and two others, one in 1847, “Der Troubadour,” and one in 1849, “Ulrich von Hutten,” in Brunswick. Though light in style, they gave promise of a distinguished career.

He wrote besides a piano sextet, two piano trios, a grand sonata for piano and violin, and many exceedingly popular songs. The Fesca Album contains forty-eight.

2. Heinrich Adolf Wollenhaupt was born in Schkeuditz near Leipzig, September 27, 1827, and died in New York, September 18, 1863. He was a pupil in piano at Leipzig of J. Knorr, and of M. Hauptmann in composition. He went to New York in 1845; played at a concert of the Philharmonic Society and made an enviable reputation as a concert pianist and teacher; in 1855 he undertook a successful concert tour in Europe.

Among nearly one hundred brilliant pianoforte pieces may be mentioned Op. 19 and 31, military marches; Op. 24, galop di bravura; Op. 27 and 47, valses styriennes; Op. 30, improvisation; Op. 32, nocturne; Op. 72, scherzo brilliante; besides many transcriptions and arrangements.


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