Music has a universal language and it can express any emotion and feeling. Music says different things for different people, but the universally acknowledged thing is that music can express anything.
Music is a powerful communication tool, it causes us to laugh, cry, think and question.
Literally Music is addressed as:
- An artof sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.
- The tones or sounds employed, occurring in single line(melody) or multiple lines (harmony), and sounded or to be sounded by one or more voices or instruments, or both.
- Musicalwork or compositions for singing or playing.
- The written or printed score of a musical
THE TRAINING OF THE MUSIC TEACHER
Let us consider the case of a young girl who has finished her school education, and has supplemented this by a special course of technical work in music, which has ended in her taking a musical diploma. She now wishes to teach. What are the chief problems which she will have to face? She must first of all make up her mind whether she wishes to confine her work to the teaching of a solo instrument, together with some work in harmony or counterpoint, along orthodox lines, or whether she wishes to be in touch with modern methods of guiding the general musical education of children, as taken in some schools in the morning curriculum. If the latter, she must enter on a course of special training.
There is also a practical reason why many who wish to teach music at the present time are entering a training department. In a paper recently issued by the Teachers’ Registration Council we find the following paragraph dealing with ‘Conditions of Registration’:
‘The applicant must produce evidence satisfactory to the Council of having completed successfully a course of training in the principles and methods of teaching, accompanied by practice under supervision. The course must extend over a period of at least one academic year or its equivalent.’
Now, those who have studied the question of the teaching of music in accordance with modern methods have realized that music provides a language, which should be used primarily for self-expression and intercourse with others. The whole of life depends on the expression of ourselves in relation to the community. ‘Self-expression is a universal instinct, which can only be crushed by a course of systematic ill treatment, either self-inflicted or inflicted by others. It is self-inflicted if we conform to false standards of convention, or create for ourselves a standard of life which is out of touch with humanity as a whole. It is inflicted by others if they force us when young into a wrong educational atmosphere, and paralyse our faculties instead of developing them.
To the favouredfew real creative power comes by instinct, but to a great many a small degree of this power can be given by education, and in this way an extra outlet is possible for self-expression. The child should be trained when quite young to think in terms of music, in the same way in which it is trained to think in its mother-tongue. The fundamental work should be taken in class, not at an individual lesson, and should be compulsory for all children. We do not inquire whether a child is gifted in languages before we teach him French, and we must not ask whether he is gifted in the language of music before placing him in the music class. Again, short frequent lessons are more beneficial to the young beginner than longer lessons at greater intervals, for, as a new ‘sense’ is being opened to the pupil, a long lesson produces an unhealthy strain.
The scheme of work to be followed in such a class will be dealt with later, but we may note here that training given in accordance with the above-mentioned aim will produce a marked increase in the vitality and general intelligence of a child. The reflex actions of intense concentration for a short time, followed by the giving out of creative work, will send a child back to its other lessons with an alert mind and with increased vigour.
A large number of schools and private families are offering posts to teachers who are able to teach along such lines. Every year the number of such posts steadily increases, and it will not be too much to predict that in the near future few schools in the first rank will be without teaching of this kind. The salaries offered are naturally higher than those obtained by the old-fashioned ‘orthodox’ teacher, as more has to be done, and classes have to be managed instead of individual pupils.
It is impossible to over-estimate the importance of securing plenty of experience in teaching classes of average pupils of all ages, under expert supervision. Many an apparently promising teacher has come to grief in the first post taken, because the knowledge gained has been too theoretical, and has not been checked by class experience with really average pupils. The question of discipline is an easy one with an individual pupil, but in class work it assumes a different proportion.
For the purpose of teaching ear-training, without instrumental work, a high degree of musical gift is not necessary. Any one who is fond of music, sympathetic with children, and willing to work, can manage the course of work necessary before being able to teach classes up to a fair standard.
The work, which often appears bewilderingly difficult to one who sees it for the first time, becomes quite simple when approached step by step, and in company with fellow students. It is also interesting to know that some of the most satisfactory results obtained in certain schools during the last few years have been arrived at by teachers possessing only an average knowledge of an instrument, but who have thrown themselves with enthusiasm into the study of music as a living language. Such teachers are bound to succeed, because they are attacking the subject in a genuinely educational spirit.
A word now on another aspect of the question of training. There is going to be an enormous difference in the young girl’s outlook on life. For perhaps the first time she has to adopt the attitude of the one who gives, not of the one who receives. Hitherto she has been receiving food, clothes, money, education, help in her difficulties, &c., and now, Fate waves a wand, and the child who has been the centre of interest in her home and in her school has to learn to give—and to give generously—as others gave to her.
For the real teacher is never paid for all she does. Her salary is not augmented in proportion to all the extra help she gives to the backward or delicate pupil—to the hours of drudgery, outside school hours, willingly given in order to be prepared for every eventuality of school life. Such things are never paid for in money, the only reward is in the partial realization of the standard attempted.
Another point. The ideal teacher must have real personality, and this is a thing of slow growth, but which can be developed under expert guidance. There must be sympathy, tact, and humour. In adopting the attitude of the giver instead of the receiver the young teacher is too apt to put away the remembrance of childish difficulties, and to forget the restless vitality which made her, as a child, long to fidget, and do anything but learn.
There is another thing to bear in mind. The majority of amateurs are never subject to the same criticism as the professional. Everything is ‘watered down’. ‘Very good’ has often been the verdict of the critic, but an unspoken addition has been—’for an amateur’.
Now in a training department one of the most valuable points of the training consists in the outspoken comments. And this does not only refer to musical work, but to personal faults. We all know that if a mannerism does not interfere with the unity of a strong personality, it may be left alone. But there are some mannerisms which merely express the weaknesses of those who possess them, and which spoil the expression of the personality. These must be cured, and will be faithfully dealt with in the training department.
Lastly, if the course of training be taken in connexion with a school, opportunities will be afforded of getting an insight into general organization and schemes of work for children of all ages.
An accusation often levelled at the musical members of a staff is that they keep to themselves, and do not identify themselves with the general school life. In some cases this may be due to lack of willingness, but in the large majority it is due to lack of training in, and realization of, the unity of such life.
A student who takes every opportunity given to her during her year of training will not only learn how to organize the general musical life of a school, through the medium of ear-training and song classes, recitals, music clubs, &c., but will be ready and proud to show initiative in other directions.
We cannot do without the visions of our artists, and a country or a school, is the poorer when full use is not made of the driving force of artistic inspiration.
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