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Too Difficult Music

By J. M. Baldwin.
The number of pupils studying music throughout the United States is increasing every year and with the growing demand for study there is a corresponding increase in the number of teachers, many of whom are young and inexperienced. These teachers are capable of getting along very nicely till they get so far, and then they come to a full stop. What is the difficulty? Is the teacher at fault, or is the pupil failing to do her part? The riddle is easy to read. The pupil in nearly every instance dislikes the grind of technical study, and the teacher, anxious to secure a big class and to show quick results, allows the pupil to proceed without adequate technical drill until a certain level is reached. Few students can do creditable work without scales and five-finger exercises, however naturally talented they may be, and however brilliant their teacher.
The writer once had a young lady call on him for instruction, who remarked: "I want to study with you if you will not give me scales and finger exercises." This is but one of thousands of cases. The young, inexperienced teacher who allows her pupils to continue lessons without scales and finger studies is on the road to failure.
After study has been continued for a while parents and friends expect the student to be able to play something. The pupil has insufficient technic, and consequently when a comparatively easy piece is given to play at sight the pupil has not the ability to handle it. By continued practice she may be able to stumble through it, but it taxes the pupil's ability to the utmost extent even to attempt to play the piece.
Artistic style, smoothness of tone, a velvet touch are sought by the musician with good taste. It is of common occurrence for teachers to give pupils music that is beyond their technical ability. When the instructor gives a new piece of music at nearly every lesson the parents often assume that the pupil is making rapid progress and that the teacher is a genius. Select any one of the pieces studied and have the pupil play it. In nearly every case the faults become apparent at once.
Nine times out of ten the student who can play the scales well can play his pieces correctly and effectively. It is better to devote an entire lesson to one scale, and to master it, than to spend the time trying to learn a piece, and in the end to have it only half learned.
Scales and technical studies are the foundation to future success. Without them little can be accomplished. The instructor who is seeking success and laying the foundation for future use can do no better than stick to scales. The student who has not the "grit" to practice scales continuously will accomplish little in music.

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