Benefits - The Institution of Alexandra House
There was a time when it was considered absolutely necessary for every girl to be taught music, whether she had any aptitude for it or no. That was in the days of " accomplishments," when the sign of a gentlewoman was that she painted a little, sang a little, played a little, embroidered a little, and, as a rule, did that little very badly.
The idea that education draws out what is in us, and can never put into us what is not there, seems only to have struck us comparatively recently. But when, after much thought, it occurred to us, we were quick to act upon it, and to-day it is rare to find a wretched child who has no car and no feeling for music sitting at the piano practising its scales for hours.
As soon as this promiscuous education ceased, accommodation for individual talent became necessary. When a girl who loved music had no longer to bend over a drawing-board or an embroidery frame, she had all the more time in which to cultivate her gift, and accordingly facilities for doing so were greatly needed.
The Royal Academy of Music was opened in 1823, but it could not provide for the increasing number of musically inclined men and women who wanted first-rate instruction and a definite course of post-scholastic guidance. King Edward Vll., then Prince of Wales, who always took a great interest in music, made the suggestion that another school was needed, and, at his instance and through his exertions, the Royal College of Music at South Kensington came into being in 1883. The building was given by the late Sir C. J. Freake, Bart. Eleven years later, its Royal founder opened with state ceremony, on behalf of Queen Victoria, the magnificent building in which the college is at present housed, in Prince Consort Road. The late Mr. Samson Fox, M.i.c.e., built the present college at a cost of 48,000.
The objects of the college, in the words of the original charter, are three.
" First, the advancement of the art of music by means of a central working and examining body charged with the duty of providing musical instruction of the highest class, and of rewarding with academical degrees and certificates of proficiency and otherwise persons, whether educated or not at the college, who on examination may prove themselves worthy of such distinctions and evidences of attainment.
" Secondly, the promotion and supervision of such musical instruction in schools and elsewhere as may be thought most conducive to the cultivation and dissemination of the art of music in the United Kingdom.
" Lastly, generally the encouragement and promotion of the cultivation of music as an art throughout our dominions."
Everything is done for the comfort of the four hundred odd students at the college. The building includes a rest room, where food can be obtained very cheaply. There are two gardens open to the students, and a magnificent concert hall which can seat a thousand people, and is, perhaps, the best-designed and most beautifully decorated in London. There are light and air all over the college, and a total absence of that depressing look which may be called " institutional." The class-rooms have good pictures on the walls, there is a library for the students, and a students' union, which gives charming " At Homes," indoors or out, as the case may be. There are separate staircases for the male and female students.
Royal College of Music South Kensington l'noto
F. Penges & Co., Ltd.
The staff of teachers is long and brilliant, and the subjects range over every form of musical education, and include operatic acting, elocution, deportment, stage dancing, and languages. The ordinary course consists of a principal subject, a secondary subject, and a number of paper-work classes and general classes. There is no limitation of age, and students must enter for at least three terms. The fees are extraordinarily low, considering what first-rate and comprehensive teaching they include.
There is an entrance fee of two guineas, and the tuition fee is twelve guineas a term for the ordinary course. After three years, there is a reduction per term, and in the junior department, for pupils under sixteen, the fee is only six guineas a term. There are extra fees for extra subjects, which are optional, and, in addition, there is a fee of five guineas for the examination which enables successful students to put the coveted letters A.r.c.m. after their names.
The pupils are divided into three sections: Students - those who are simply taking the ordinary course in the ordinary way; scholars - those who are enjoying one of the fifty-seven open scholarships or the eleven local scholarships; and exhibitioners, who have won one of the seven exhibitions.
In addition, many prizes are given annually, consisting either of musical instruments or medals. Many of those who enter for scholarships and exhibitions have not been trained at the college, but this does not prevent them from entering for one of these benefits, some of which give three years of free instruction, and all of which are valuable both intrinsically and professionally.
Each pupil stays in the class-room for an hour - that is, twenty minutes for a private lesson, and forty minutes listening to two other lessons.
An intending student must obtain a form of application, fill it up, and pay the entrance examination fee, and the first term's fee. The entrance examination is fairly easy, consisting of questions in the rudiments of music, and the projected principal and secondary subjects. The object of it is merely to discover the exact stage of proficiency of the pupil. Rcferences.s and an undertaking to obey the rules must be given to the director before entering the college.
The usual course consists of two lessons weekly of one hour each, as described above, in the principal study. These lessons may be solo singing, violin, viola, 'cello, double bass, piano, organ, harp, or wind instrument. If theory or composition be the principal study, the lesson is an individual weekly one of half an hour.
One lesson weekly of one hour is given in one of the practical branches of music, such as piano accompaniment, or in languages, elocution, or composition. Then there are weekly class lessons, one of each, in harmony, counterpoint, sight singing (for singers), choral singing, ensemble playing, orchestral practice, and choir training, while frequent lectures are given, fully illustrated by voices or instruments.
A second principal study may be taken at an extra fee. and stage dancing, dramatic action, and deportment are also extra.
A feature which makes the college particularly attractive to people living in the country, who wish to send their daughters to a first-class musical centre, is the existence of Alexandra House, on the opposite side of the road to the college, where fifty female pupils are housed.
For sixty guineas a year, a girl has a bedroom to herself, shares a sitting-room with one other pupil, and is well fed. She also has the use of a drawing-room, with library, gymnasium, practising rooms, and a concert-room. For £1 a term, her washing is done by a steam laundry; and for an extra half-crown, she has the use of a telephone. Alexandra House is under the patronage of Queen Alexandra, and its watchword is "Care'and liberality." There is also an infirmary in which students are cared for by expert medical attendants.