Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

tions acquaintance with music. Nor would such a course in our Committees be harsh, or unproductive of most excellent results; for, let it once be known that such requirements are to be made of every candidate for the office of teacher, and education and training will begin early; and it may, I think, be safely averred, that there is not one in a thousand, with ability enough for any intellectual performance, who could not, in case of great necessity, make himself a respectable musician, provided he commence his discipline early in life. If such be true, all that is wanted is stimulus sufficient, and the end is attained. The possibility under any circumstances once admitted, and every thing is conceded.

And here we leave the consideration of this branch of our subject, and pass to the second division of the question. - The majority are, we believe, ready to assent to the Practicableness of the introduction of vocal music into our schools — but they question the Utility of it. They think it inexpedient to incur even a light expense, and engross the time of teachers and pupils upon a profitless object. It is my duty to remove, if possible, such doubts, and to demonstrate the expediency of making music a branch of popular instruction.

And now, let us inquire, in the first place, do the opponents of this project object to the means alone, - anxious for the accomplishment of the end proposed? Do they say, we are solicitous that all should receive instruction in this branch, and are satisfied of its importance, but we are desirous that more feasible means should be proposed to bring about this end? No; this is not pretended: the objectors, then, to making music a component part of an elementary education do, in fact, oppose the teaching of music, - not here and there, but every where, - not in this way or that way, but in every way. For it is self-evident that the only sure and fit method of imparting this instruction is the method proposed. And we would not believe in the supreme absurdity that what is regarded as inexpedient to be done in the best way, should be deemed expedient to be done in the worst way. It is well for men to differ honestly about the means, but let us not confound means with the ends.

We have already suggested the invalidity of the objection that children in their early pupilage are too young to be taught music, and should not be instructed in it any more than in metaphysics ; experience has proved the falsity of this ob

[ocr errors]

jection. You would not put Stewart or Locke into the hands of a child; but you will early impress upon him the connection between ideas and the external senses, and many of the prominent laws of the intellect and affections. You would not give Newton's Principia, or the Mécanique Céleste as a primary school text-book ; but you will teach that an apple falls to the earth by the power of gravity that the sun stands still — that twice two are four. This adaptation of study, and consistency in the estimate of children's capacity, is all that is asked for music.

We will only allude to that class of objectors, small indeed, and sufficiently despicable; who, from an elevated position in society, look down with a curling lip and lowering brow upon the upward strides of the popular mass; who are sincerely jealous of every facility which is offered for the intellectual melioration or personal accomplishment of the lower classes, more especially the females ; confident that every step which the common mind advances in culture renders their own high and isolated position less conspicuous, threatens defilement to the imperial robes of aristocracy, and a universal amalgamation of rich and poor. One could hardly believe that such justifiable encroachments of one class upon the other should be dreaded, especially by those who should be the last, from such unworthy motives, to arrest the in-swelling tide of public educa

to look with envy or disgust upon those innocent and elevating accomplishments which public munificence hath bestowed upon the daughter of poverty; and which have cost him long tuition of a distinguished professor, the expense of an elegant Piano Forte, and all the diverse means and appliances to which parental pride and hope will resort. I feel almost degraded while I mention such a class of objectors; but they do exist, and within the memory of the youngest, their unrelenting opposition to an elevated and refined popular education, effectually overthrew one of the most promising and glorious institutions which could adorn the metropolis of our commonwealth.

These classes of objectors, then, we will not heed, but concern ourselves only with those who, without hypocrisy, regard it as a matter of no moment that the rising generation should be instructed in music;— who stamp the whole project with the withering brand of inexpediency.

Let us ask these objectors what they do ; — whether they are not thoughtlessly guilty of impious disregard of the enactments

tion,

of the Almighty; of doubting the wisdom of his contrivances, and decrying the use and worth of bis beneficent provisions for human advancement in excellence and happiness. We solemnly think they are so guilty. A faculty is confessedly bestowed upon the human family. It is a part of our nature; it is interwoven closely and inseparably with the intellectual and moral texture of the soul. It is as much the gift of God, our Creator, as immortal reason itself. And it as unquestionably has its benevolent end to attain in the destiny of ihe race. All nature proclarins its existence with her countless tongues. The inspired Hebrew page, in its rhetorical figures and images, bears constant attestation to it. In early creation, the stars sang together; and at the Redeemer's birth, the multitude of the heavenly host hymned forth their ascriptions of thanksgiving. The angel choir unite in one triumphant song with the spirits of the redeemned, before Him who sitteth on the throne and the Lamb, forever. Jesus himself, after the paschal supper, sent up, with his disciples, in the solemn hymn, the aspirations of his spotless soul, as if by this act of devotion, to calm his spirit's perturbation, fortify his faith and herald his own blessed and glorious ascension.

And shall this faculty lie barren and unprofitable ? Shall it be wrapped in a napkin and buried in the earth? Shall it be dealt by, as one would think it temerity and folly to deal by any other mental or moral endowment ? Shall we deny it, alone of all our faculties, its proper sphere of action; its fit discipline; its preparation for higher and nobler purposes, for wider and more purifying and permanent influences upon the human soul? He who answers, Yes — in the same breath asks the Almighty, What doest thou ? He sets his defying forehead against the arm of Jehovah.

Then, my friends, it rather becomes us in the outset, to resolve that this faculty shall receive its fit attention, for the reason that God has so designed it; and with this determination, all differences as to means are easily reconcilable. Let us not pronounce it inexpedient to be faithful to every part of our great commission.

But it is said, it takes too much time to instruct a school in music. Hours are expended upon this branch which might be much more profitably spent in other studies. But this objection begs the question. It is first to be shown that time could be spent more profitably upon other studies. We deny

it. And if, in the course of this discussion, the expediency of teaching music be demonstrated, then this objection has no force. There must be time spent in doing anything ; but there is a great difference between employing time and wasting time. For my single self, I should hail as an improvement in our system of education, an appropriation of an hour of every day of a scholar's life, to instruction in the art and science of music; and this, even though the exercise be regarded only as affording change and recreation in school. But this objection

may be cut short at once, by the fact itself, that instruction in music requires but little time. One hour and ten minutes a week is all that has been expended upon the Hawes School. And trifling indeed must be that benefit which is not cheaply purchased at so small a cost of time.

It will, undoubtedly, without controversy, be admitted that if musical instruction is ever to be given, it must be given while those to be taught are still young. This must be distinctly understood, and it hardly needs argument to prove it. The same reasoning adduced in support of early instruction in any thing, is in full force in this branch — nay, is doubly applicable ; for music has to do not only with the mind but with the physical organs. Early indifference and neglect may disqualify the mind for subsequent labor; and so also the organs of the body may contract most pervicious habits, which all later discipline cannot remove,- hardly modify. Then, when the vocal organs are delicate and pliable, and before the ear becomes obtuse in its nicer perceptions, then must musical instruction be given, if ever. Do not wait until the Auid is hardened into flint. There is, undoubtedly, a great diversity in the taste or relish for music; but in childhood, this can be at most little more than indifference, which may be led by slight seasonable influences into almost any path. In age, it may have grown into aversion; and then persuasion or compulsion can be of little avail. Consequently, I may venture here to assume, that if music is ever to be taught, it is expedient to begin the work in our common schools. And, therefore, whatever may be urged in favor of making music a branch of popular education, will, of course, help to demonstrate the expediency of introducing it into our common schools.

The first and most obvious, though the most limited illustration of my position, is the effect which the measure produ

ces in the schools themselves. And here, my friends, I fear I am not with the majority, when I regard this effect advantageous as it may be, as of little comparative consequence; and so confident do I feel of the ultimate benefits of early musical instruction, that if the introduction of the study into our schools were productive of no good to the institutions themselves, or to their pupils as such, — nay, were, for the time, rather the source of evil, yet, I would say, go on. Do not give it up. The future blessing will more than compensate for the present sacrifice. Toil through the enshrouding mists, and the bright sun shall gleam upon your path.

Still, the multitude, will not be convinced by prospective advantages, and they will hardly allow to music what they must grant to other branches of study. The immediate result of attention to grammar, geography, history, or any thing else, is nothing. They are worth only what they will bring in the market of after-life.

Who would think of sending a child to school to learn arithmetic because it may teach him to conduct himself with propriety while in school? Parental anticipation and love are not thus short-sighted. The blossoms of spring may be de lightful to lend beauty and fragrance to the landscape ; but they are prized more as the precursors of an abundant harvest. That voice is dearest to us, which, while it speaks of present pleasure, whispers promises of more precious joys to come.

But music does benefit a school into which it is introduced,

chiefly, as furnishing an easier and more agreeable means of discipline. We may all, perhaps, feel that we can keep our pupils in order without any such auxiliary ; but we do not on this account despise such aid. We ought, certainly, to welcome anything that may enable us to accomplish a particular result with less than usual effort. Music furnishes this. In the first place, it makes scholars more constant in their attendance. This is one great source of its utility, and proves that it is attractive. It makes children more bappy while at school, will often reconcile them to their severe duties, and operate as an inducement to extra exertion in study. All this is but an enumeration of the component parts of its aid in discipline. When the school is weary, the song refreshes; the drowsy are aroused; the dull eye is enkindled; the expressionless face beams with feeling, and the whole natural language is exhilaration and joy. Music, too, calms the boisterous ; quiets the

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »