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Inquiries on Teaching Music.
Surely it is no small privilege for children, far from home and friends, to be under the immediate eye of a medical man in the formation and preservation of vigorous and healthful physical constitution ; but it is to my mind far more valuable that the moral and intellectual constitution be under its proper government and instruction; and this is impossible without the influence of home. It is by no means intended, by what is said above, to take from schools their value as assistants in the education of youth ; but the are merely assistants. I am aware that to send to school, and to educate, in these days, mean neardy the same thing; but whoever has watched with proper care and solicitude the education, merely, of his own children, has found—and to his astonishment, too-how small a part in the substantial or polite education of young gentlemen or ladies, is the daily study and recital of small portions of useful knowledge in the form of lessons. With sentiments of the highest esteem,
I am yours,
H. P. Benham.
VOCAL MUSIC IN SCHOOLS.
[We received, in April last, the following letter from one of our correspondents, who is a teacher. We embrace the earliest opportunity of inserting it.]
DEAR SIR: Having introduced the study and practice of vocal music into our school, and not having bad so great success in this as in other studies, the conclusion is fair, that there must be something wrong or defective in our mode of teaching it. And, now you would do us, and perhaps teachers in this section generally, a very great favor, if you would give us, through the pages of the Annals, a description of the mode used, of teaching this branch, in the Boston Schools. Allow me to call your attention to a few points connected with this inquiry, upon which, if you should see fit to gratify us, we should be glad to have you particularly speak.
1. How to gain attention to the 'rudiments' of music.
2. Whether an entire school composed of pupils of various ages and both sexes, can receive instruction to advantage in one class.
3. What tunes, kind of tunes, or collection of music, should be given to a school?
Replies by a Professor of Music.
4. What should be said to parents when they leave it with their children to study music or not, as they (the children) please? (No 'extra' charge is made for vocal music in our school)
5. Do the Boston schools generally sing more than one part, as second, tenor, or bass?
6. Is there to be found a short plain (anatomical) description of the organs of voice, from wbich children can gain a correct idea of the wonderful instrument which they use so much ?
[The letter was submitted to one of the Professors of the Boston Academy of Music, with a request that he would find time to answer it, which he has done in the following manner.]
T. If instruction be given according to the “ Manual of instruction in the Elements of Vocal Music," published by the Boston Academy of Music, it will be found comparatively easy to hold the attention of the children. Proceeding according to the directions here given, it is believed there is no study in which it is more easy to command attention--and no study which interests children more.
2. Can an entire school composed of pupils of various ages, &c., receive instruction to advantage in one class in Geography, Arithmetic, History, or any other branch of education?- The cases are analagous--and if not in one-then not in the other. There is, however, this difference at the commencement of a school, viz. In all other departments there is sufficient knowledge already possessed by the pupil to enable the teacher to proceed at once to a classification of his school ; whereas, in music, almost all are entirely ignorant. In consequence of this, a miscellaneous class may, for a short time receive instruction together—but it will soon become necessary to separate the younger from the older. Boys and girls may learn together.
'3. All tunes or songs are taught by rote, and not from a knowledge of musical characters; that is, for a considerable time, say a year or so. Books therefore, are unnecessary, except for words. The “ Juvenile Singing School," is the best book, and should be in the hands of the teacher. Pupils also always desire to have it.
4. Many parents suppose their children cannot learn music; when this is the case, the error should be corrected, as it has been abundantly proved that a capacity for music is as universal as is a capacity for learning other things. In other cases we must convince them of the utility of the thing in view, if possible-I know of no other way.
Moral Effects of Music in Schools.
15. Children's voices are incapable of singing tenor or bass. They may, however, if considerably advanced, sing a second ; bul, in general, in children's singing schools, no more than one part should be attempted. Tunes or songs are sung for the purposes of cultivating the ear, bringing out the voice, acquiring a correct articulation, and for the pleasure and variety they afford the children-and not for the purpose of teaching them elementary principles. Only one part is usually sung in the German schools, or in Boston.
66. None. Such a description, though it would be interest: ing in an anatomical point of view, would, perhaps, be of no musical advantage.
'It is highly important, however, that teachers should understand how delicate are the organs of sound, and how easily injured. Children should never be allowed to make great exertions, or to sing very high or very low ; or for so long a time at once, as to become much fatigued. In general, 30 to 50 min-' utes is long enough for a lesson.'
It may be interesting to many of our readers to know that Mr Mason is now publishing a set of lessons on large sheetsdesigned to be hung up in the school room, for the use of a class. They will be done in about two months, and will save much labor of the teacher.
We are exceedingly glad that this subject of vocal music in schools is being agitated so extensively in this country. The result cannot be otherwise than highly favorable in every point of view; but especially the moral results. We do not believe there is a school to be found, where the experiment has been fairly tried, in which the teacher has not been struck with its excellent moral influence. We hope it will soon be as common as arithmetic or geography are ; and taught as scientifically and as thoroughly.
MISERABLE SCHOOL Rooms. We must be permitted to advert frequently to the subject of school rooms, for it is admitted, on all hands, to be one of great importance. Every fact which discloses to us, in any measure, their present condition, confirms this conclusion. The following is an extract from the printed report of the School Committee of the town of Scituate, Mass. The report is one of much interest, and was probably drawn up by the Chairman of the Committee, Rev. Samuel J. May.
• It is with great regret we give it as our opinion that most of our school bouses are such, or in such a condition, that the children, when assembled in them, have not been well situated for the purpose of either mental or moral improvement. Not more than two or three of the whole number are large enough to accommodate so many as have been usually gathered in them. Most of them are much too small every way. So small are some of them, that the scholars could not all be seated without crowding one another - nor move out of their seats, without serious interference.
• Not half our school houses are 20 feet square. Only two of them are as much as 24 feet square. One of them is a little more than 9 feet high. Few of the rest are as much as 8 feet. In rooms so small, thirty, orty, fifty, and even sixty children bave been brought together, and there kept three hours each half day, with intermissions of only five or ten minutes. .
• The air, embraced within the walls of rooms of such dimensions, would be exhausted of its life-giving properties, by the breathing of thirty or forty children, in a few minutes ; and had it not been for the little fresh air which has pressed in through the cracks and crevices, suspension, if not extinction of life would bave ensued. Because such disas ters have not happened, you are not to take it for granted that your children have incurred no evil. Although they may not have fainted or died, they have been compelled to suffer lassitude, or nausea, or headache, for the want of a proper venlilation of our school rooms. Go and open the door of one of these school rooms, after the inmates have ocpied it an hour, and you will need no arguments we can adduce, to convince you that it is a most unsuitable place for beings w hose com. fortable existence depends at all upon pure air.'
The Pennsylvania Schools.
EDUCATION IN PENNSYLVANIA. The Fourth Annual Report on the Common Schools, Academies and Colleges of Pennsylvania, by Mr Burrowes, the Superintendent, is & document of great interest, (says the Sunday School Journal) prepared with great labor and care. It shows that the system of common schools which went into operation three years ago, was ski.fully devised, and will fulfil the best wishes of its advocates. In addition to the primary and secondary coinmon schools, the superintendent recommends institutes for the education of teachers, which would elevate the profession in efficiency and respectability. We were much impressed by the liberal views of this functionary in regard to the profession of teaching. He would have teachers liberally paid; and aims to place their profession among the most honorable in the community. Instead of fixing a maximum compensation which the pay of teachers should not exceed, be advises the Directors of the schools to establish, by all means, a respectable minimum, less than which they sbould not in any case give the teacher of a full primary district.'
The Report contains the following just sentiments on an evil we have long perceived, and have wished for a remedy. “A most unjust difference prevails, in some counties, between the salaries of male and female teachers. The latter, though possessing equal, if not superior qualifications, are generally forced to be content with a third of the amount paid the former. This should not be. The fact is undeniable, that in the same number of male and female teachers, the greater portion of incompetency will be found among the males.
• The whole number of districts (townships, boroughs and wards) in the State, exclusive of the city and county.of Philadelphia, and the city of Lancaster, as near as can be ascertained, is now 1,001; of these, 765 have accepted the terms of the law, and either have schools actually established under the system, or are providing for them. There were 4,089 primary schools taught in the districts which had made reports. The average number of scholars in each was about 42, the whole uumber taught during the year 182,355, at an average cost of 42 1-2 cents per month for each pupil. The whole number of young persons between five and fifteen years of age in the districts reported, is supposed to be about 200,000. $387,552 76, exclusive of $89,536 51 to Philadelphia, have been paid to the districts for the year.
Upon the recoinmendation of the superintendent, appropriations have been made for ten years to the colleges and academies in the State:$1000 per annum to each college, having four professors anil one hundred students; and $500 and $300 per annum, to the academies, according to the number of teachers and pupils.
In the State are eight colleges in operation having 790 students.