MUSIC (TEACHING OF)

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MUSIC (TEACHING OF)

with what we have heard, thus giving unity to the whole.

In connection with this first step of enriching the musical experience, the second step may be commenced — that of forming ideas. These ideas may be classified under two main heads : Those that deal with the interpretation of music and those that deal with its structure. Under the first of these the pupil will be taught to see how the effectiveness of his song depends upon the quality of his voice, the manner of pronunciation, the force or gentleness with which he sings and the expressive intention with which he does his work; all of these in relation to the text. His singing is thus a restatement and amplification of the text; and after singing a number of songs in this way the pupil will unconsciously be forming ideas of interpretation which he will not only apply himself, but expect in the work of others.

Following and paralleling this work of interpretation, ideas of structure will be taken up. The pupil will observe that the melody of his songs seems to move up and down, and gradually from the most general observation he will be led to notice specifically just what is the nature of these pitch-changes. Second, he will notice that the tones in his songs are sometimes prolonged and sometimes rapid, and from such general observation he will gradually discover the simple ratio of the changes to each other. Third, he will notice that the songs he sings group into regular pulsations and that the duration of his tones bears a relation to these pulsations ; and from a notion of general pulsation he will discover that there are a few definite groupings that constantly occur in his songs. Thus the pupil will commence to observe the three classes of general musical ideas, more fully described in Musical Notation.

The great difficulty in the formation of such general musical ideas is that the pupil is unable to keep in mind the relation of the specific observation, as pitch, duration or pulsation, to the piece of music in which he is experiencing it. Unless he does this, no general ideas applicable to musical experience can be formed. It is a matter of apperception that is here involved, and this perhaps is the point where the greatest error in music instruction is found. See Apperception.

In order to aid in keeping this connection clear, it is suggested that the first step of observation be reinforced by the second step, consisting of doing what he observes. If the child moves his hand up and down in connection with the song he is singing, showing by the change in movement the extent of change in pitch, he is greatly aided in making the mental observation clear and distinct, and at the same time it takes place while the song is being

sung. So, if he claps in connection with the tones of this song, the movement of his hands will make the conception of the changes in duration more vivid and, at the same time, not interfere with the conception of the song as a whole. So, if he keeps time with his foot to the pulses of his music, he is by that means making the nature of those pulses clearer to his comprehension and, at the same time, observing their effect in the particular song he is singing. Thus ideas which have commenced to be dimly formed in the observation-step are more definitely comprehended when they are accompanied with action. This is a principle of education applied in many other studies as well as in music.

But action has the same drawback as music. In order to compare parts of an action, as well as parts of a piece of music, we have to depend on the memory for presenting the facts. In order to be able to make our ideas clearer and to classify them through the ability to compare, the second stage of acting should be followed by a third stage of picturing. If the child goes to the board and places dashes up and down to show his conception of how the melody changes in pitch, he will have before him a graphic representation of his entire tune that will enable him to compare and classify its parts. So, if he draws long and short dashes, he will be able to accomplish the same with reference to the ideas of duration, and by drawing circles on the blackboard — larger ones to represent strong pulses and, smaller ones for weak — he can have a visual expression of the pulse-grouping of his tunes. After the pupil has developed considerable skill in expressing his tonal conception by a diagrammatic representation, he will be able to take the fourth step, which consists in substituting for the diagram the regular notation of the same ideas. Such a process, carried out, will enable the pupil accurately to conceive of the general ideas that the notation suggests and through this power to form the concrete idea that their united expression represents.

We are now ready for the second phase of music-study, which reverses the process we have just been sketching out. Instead of commencing with the song and leading to its notation, we start with the notation and end with the song. In the first we went from sound to sight, in the second we go from sight to sound. This is preeminently the sight-singing process, and consists in forming ideas from their visual representation and. testing the accuracy of these ideas by their vocal production. The essential thing for this process is that the child should conceive the general ideas rapidly enough, from the notation that suggests them, to combine them into the scientific