Sunday, June 11, 2017

Music Education Is a Necessity, 1916

“The Dust of Monroe,” from the June 16, 1916 issue of The Monroe Journal.
The public demand for music, it seems, has made it almost a necessity in our daily lives, and just how much it benefits would be impossible to tell. Think of its influence in the home, providing pleasure and recreation for us, inspiring and stimulating ambitions, reforming disposition and ennobling character.
The church could scarcely exist without it. What is more inspiring and truly uplifting? “It is as religious naturally as a breath from heaven, as pure as a flake of wafted snow ere it touches the earth.
What stimulates our patriotism and idealizes our country more than our national and state hymns? Could a true American listen to Dixie and not hurrah with applause? What is likely to make a child a true American more than the singing of national hymns? Every Canadian school child has sung “God save the Queen (or King) every school day of its life. This fact alone would keep Canada from ever joining the United States.
If music then has such an influence over the home life, the religious life, the national life, surely it must have over the intellectual life.
Education does not help our child only to find what is beneficial through life—not simply in earning a living or making money—but in wisely using it, and in being the most service in life. Real education is the education that stimulates to a most useful life—this is the key to success.
The man who is not useful is a menace to himself, to society and to the world. The woman who is not useful is a menace to herself, to womanhood, to man and to all life with which her own life comes in contact. We should not only be useful but know that we are useful. What little boy’s heart doesn’t throb with a thought of usefulness when he brings father’s slippers after a day of toil? What little girl’s face does not glow with the thought of helping mother, after she has washed the supper dishes? It is not just the doing but knowing that we are useful, to feel that some one needs us, that some thing is better because of us, and that the work we do would be missed were we to neglect it.
These are the qualities that fit our boys and girls for life. The school that best helps to form character, not the one that imparts the most information, is the school the present should demand. The chief mission of schools some 50 years ago was to teach children to read, write and cipher. Play was considered a big waste of time in children.
The magnifying of the three R’s will drive all life and spirit out of any child. You’ve heard of the little boy who prayed all night that he might wake and find his school house reduced to ashes. He wasn’t a bad boy, and he didn’t mind work, but the idea was in him that education was a kind of punishment.
Music taught in the schools, I believe, helps to correct this. Children will learn 10 times as well if the day is made bright and cheery—study made appetizing and relishing, not boring. Let’s teach the children not only to sing, but what they sing, why and how. The child should be taught the difference in music and vulgar noise. Then trashy shows and ragtime vaudevilles will not appeal to them.
I hope that we may soon have music taught in our school, organized chorus work and a school orchestra. Orchestras have been introduced in many American high schools and the introduction of the sound producing machine has done much to bring the orchestral masterpieces of the great music thinkers nearer to our children.
Let’s have more music in our schools if it is the noblest inspiration, the most brilliant art, if it makes us more devout, more patriotic, more intellectual, more inspired for good and useful lives.
Let’s begin the school day with music. It will surely breathe a religious spirit into the entire day. Let’s intersperse the literary work by singing “America,” “Star Spangled Banner,” “Dixie” and our state hymns. Then let’s encourage the need of a sound producing machine in our school, so that our children may listen to and grow to love the masterpieces of master minds like Handel, Wagner, Mendelssohn, and Beethoven, the story of whose lives are more fascinating than Napoleon or Caesar.

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