The following article is based upon a speech that Dr. Buechner delivered before The Massachusetts Music Educators Association in Springfield on March 22, 1963. He has taken this opportunity to add a paragraph or two for the sake of clarity and has changed one of the musical illustrations to avoid copyright problems. The final document, which is still in the form of a speech, retains the conversational tone and style of the original. As such, it is representative of the kind of pragmatic "shop talk" that can and does bridge the gap between the school music teacher and the university music professor.
Music in Schools: A Blueprint for the Coming Years
The total program of music in American schools may be compared to a venerable piece of architecture, which has survived the vicissitudes of over a century of educational change and which, like the manor houses of old, has had many additions made to its original plan. Careful examination of this structure reveals that, while the intentions of the several architects have been good, the artisans, who have carried out their plans, have often had to work under adverse conditions. The end result has been a building of uneven design in which the timbers here and there are sagging a bit, the roof is leaking in spots, and the brick work behind much of the attractive façade is beginning to crumble.
Our blueprint for music rightly concerns itself with the renovation of this noble edifice. Let us, therefore, get our carpenter's level and measuring tape, put on our overalls, and begin working our way through the building from the foundation on up to the widow's walk at the top.
The first object for study is the program in elementary music education, which in truth is the foundation for all our efforts. As we apply our rational yardstick we are almost immediately struck by the chronic understaffing which exists with regard to music personnel at this level. Comparatively few school systems have had the wisdom to delegate responsibility for music instruction to an ample corps of musical specialists, who, as individuals, devote their time exclusively to a single school or two. The majority of systems have relied instead upon musical laymen, otherwise known as general classroom teachers, who are expected to handle the entire program with the assistance of a handful of hard-pressed music supervisors or consultants. Ratios of the former to the latter, as unfavorable as 125 to 1 have been reported. Such figures not only make a mockery of effective supervision, but also are indicative of an appalling lack of concern on the part of administrators for the depth, extent, and continuity of the musical experiences which should be given to elementary school children.
Let us be "hard-boiled" for a moment. First, recall the idealized program of singing, listening, playing, creating, dancing, and reading as it has been set forth by authorities such as Mursell, Myers, Ellison, and McMillan. Next, consider the musical skills and cultural background necessary for successful teaching in each of these areas. Then, ask yourselves how well are the classroom teachers in your systems endowed with these qualities. Last of all, tally up the degree to which the objectives implied by these activities are consistently realized in the self-contained classrooms of your schools. I think you will agree that in far too many cases there is a distressing gulf between program and performance.
If we are in agreement as to the validity of this conclusion, we must, in all fairness to the classroom teachers involved, recognize that they are working under extraordinary pressures. At the present time they are expected, not only to teach the "three R's" with greater thoroughness and distinction than ever before, but also to keep abreast with a host of new developments and to incorporate them into their teaching. French through television, SMSG mathematics programs, SRA or Iowa Achievement Tests, and Science Fair are but a few, which come to mind. When things like milk money, plan books, report cards, the register, PTA meetings and other bona fide yet time-consuming obligations are considered, one wonders how they succeed in teaching as much music as they do.
Sympathetic understanding of the classroom teacher's burdens does not, of course, solve the problem before us. We must inquire further.
It may be asked, if supervised instruction by laymen is so unsatisfactory, why have we as a professional group tolerated it for such a long time? The answer is partly historical and partly sociological in nature.
To begin with, the instructional pattern under consideration is an inheritance from the distant past when trained personnel in school music were in short supply. But this is not the whole story by any means. In our day the music program, for better or for worse, has become the public relations department of the school system. This has meant that disproportionate amounts of teacher-time have had to be invested in the training of a talented few, who are periodically put on display before the general public.
Music teachers are not alone in this problem. Consider the matter of interscholastic athletics. All too often we have witnessed the hiring of three or four coaches at the high school level for the sole purpose of developing competitive teams, which benefit a small number of physically gifted youngsters. At the same time we have noted the failure of these men to make adequate provision for the physical training of the rest of the school population. Have we not been told that the majority of the latter group cannot meet the standards of the Fitness Program for American Youth? And does not this fact, which goes virtually unnoticed in a sports-hungry society, indicate that here too the public relations aspect of education has gotten out of hand?
Now I am not so naive as to suggest that we work for the abolition of either our bands, choruses, and orchestras or our football, basketball, and baseball teams. Each has its rightful place in the scheme of things. Indeed, in many towns it is often the band which wins approval for the music budget as a whole when it is considered by the school committee.
The solution to our problem lies in convincing those who control the purse strings that the time has come to make our staffing arrangements correspond more closely to our curricular responsibilities. Can we not argue that the general student has as much claim upon our time as the special student of music? Can we not explain that we have gone just about as far as we can in terms of the self-contained classroom? Can we not work for its elimination as far as music is concerned and press for the addition of as many special teachers of music as are necessary in our respective school systems? I think we can.
The first renovation to be included in my blueprint for the coming years is, therefore, a recommendation that responsibility for music instruction in the elementary school be delegated to a corps of competent specialists so that the general student will be guaranteed a proper introduction to the art of music.
Once the difficult matter of staffing has been settled to our satisfaction, we may address ourselves to three major problems which are basic to both the elementary school and junior high school curricula.
The first of these is the apparent failure of the music reading program as it has been carried out through the medium of the vocal music class. A far better known professor1 than your humble servant has asserted that this is the case. Unfortunately, he is not present to defend his views and so I must take up the cudgels for him.
You might protest that hundreds of students in your care are learning to read music and you would be right, up to a point. What your critics are getting at is the fact that learning the conventional signs and symbols rarely leads to the development of functional sight-reading skill unless extraordinary measures, such as supplementary instrumental music lessons, are undertaken outside of class. They would be quick to point out that even in those systems in which music reading forms the core of the music curriculum an incredible amount of rote learning of notes goes on even in the top choral groups. Finally, they would raise the side-issue of the negative attitudes toward music which are produced in those of lesser ability and opportunity, who have found music reading a bewildering and well-nigh impossible task.
Why haven't we succeeded in teaching Johnny to read music fluently? Several reasons come to mind.
First, we have largely delegated responsibility for music reading instruction to self-contained classroom teachers, who are the ones least equipped by nature and by training to handle this difficult task. Figures vary from school to school, but in many cases 50% of the elementary staff are musically illiterate in the technical sense of that phrase.
Second, we have been unrealistic about the amount of time necessary for genuine mastery of the concepts involved. It has been estimated that the average child in the upper grades spends fifteen hours per week in language arts and associated reading activities. The same child ordinarily invests no more than an hour a week in all musical studies.
Third, we have misunderstood and misapplied the readiness principle. Typical music reading programs begin arbitrarily at an early age without regard to whether the children in question have actually developed the prerequisite degrees of tonal memory, aural perception, vocal skill, rhythmic sensitivity, and emotional maturity.
Fourth, we have ignored findings regarding individual differences, especially those which pertain to the distribution of intelligence in the general population. I.Q. now appears to be at least as important to success in learning to read music, as musical talent itself. Yet we have taught our classes as if all children were equal in intellectual ability.
Fifth, we have assumed that we have the best methodology in the time-honored system of moveable do-re-mi. The employment of some kind of syllables since the eleventh century suggests that syllables, per se, are not wrong. Modern research into language reading disabilities, however, makes it clear that it is unwise to put pitch considerations ahead of rhythmic relationships.
Reasonable solutions may be supplied for each of these objections.
First, with regard to teacher competence let us entrust the teaching of music reading only to those genuinely qualified to handle it, be they classroom teachers or music specialists.
Second, with regard to the time factor let us work for the adoption of a schedule which would guarantee that each child would have two half-hour music lessons per week taught by a music specialist.
Third, with regard to readiness let us re-study the whole problem of musical growth in the light of what has been developed by such distinguished teacher-composers as Carl Orff2 and Paul Hindemith3 to the end that we may adapt their findings to the public school situation.
Fourth, with regard to the intelligence factor let us take advantage of the normal grouping practices in our schools and as a matter of deliberate policy refrain from teaching music reading to the slow groups, providing for them instead a program which stresses valid recreational and cultural objectives.
Fifth, with regard to method let us experiment with teaching machines and programmed instruction in the hope of developing more meaningful and more effective ways of presenting the subject.
The second renovation to be included in my blueprint for the coming years is, therefore, a recommendation that instruction in music reading be improved through experimentation and that it be offered only to those who are willing and able to profit from it.
The resolution of the music reading dilemma permits us to tackle the second major difficulty which confronts us in our elementary and secondary schools today, the "boy problem."4 In all too many situations from about the fourth grade through the eighth grade the boys in ever increasing numbers tend to fall by the wayside when it comes to singing. Indeed, many appear simply to be marking time until they reach that place in their educational career where music becomes an elective and they can escape from it forthwith.
Their apathy toward music is symptomatic of a more general problem which afflicts as many girls as it does boys. This malady is the decline of vigorous singing traditions at all levels in our society. What has happened to the singing assemblies, which were so much a part of the educational scene in previous generations? Most of the youngsters of yesterday, who are the parents of today, still love to sing, even if their only opportunities to do so are in church or before their television set. Their sons and daughters, who honestly don't "dig" much of the repertory of those who "sing along with Mitch," have delegated to little transistorized boxes their God-given right to sing and have made the repertory of these infernal machines their own.
Why have the young folks of today been such push-overs for the disc-jockeys and the musical marijuana, which has been peddled so successfully? The social scientist's answer would be that each generation tends to develop its own repertory of favorite songs out of the strongest influences in the community around it. The "old chestnuts" found in Twice 55 and in many of the standard song series used in our schools today simply do not have very much to say to modern youth. Commercial interests have recognized our failure to provide aesthetically valid and personally satisfying material for singing and have filled the void created thereby with hack-composed material of their own. In so doing they have established a multi-million dollar industry which, through the techniques of mass marketing and hidden persuasion, simultaneously creates and satisfies a need for the banal and the vulgar in music.5
Now the root of this problem, historically speaking, has been our over-reliance upon what in despair I have chosen to call the "fiercely didactic ditty." You know what I mean. The sharp syllable fa, or fi song. The forced correlation with social studies song. The song with a moral; helping mommy, sharing with your neighbor. The song with a purpose: health, safety, and the like. The song about the great wide world around us. The song about our dear little animal friends in field and forest. Shall I sing you one?
Here is a parody6 of a sentimental gem taken from a popular series song book.
|The kitty is so pretty,|
|her eyes are sparkling bright;|
|With her whiskers long and paws so strong|
|she loves to roam at night.|
|The bowers full of flowers|
|she loves to sniff by day,|
|And the little mice do say she's nice|
|when they come out to play.|
This song apparently has no musical purpose, because none is indicated for it in the teacher's manual. The directions, however, dearly state that it is good for something, namely, citizenship, home and family, fun and humor, and impersonation.
I will forbear asking you whether the employment of this song in a teaching situation will actually contribute to the fulfillment of these extra-musical objectives. A specialist in child psychology would have a field day answering that question. I will, nonetheless, ask you to consider the implications of this type of song for "the boy problem."
What red-blooded, self-respecting American boy would want to sing a song like "The Kitty"? What would his attitude toward music be if we gave him a steady diet of this sort of thing? Is it any wonder that we can't get him to join the chorus when he is older? Indeed, I suspect his reluctance to do so is a kind of negative proof of his innate good taste, for if the chorus really did sing this sort of drivel, he would have every right to give it a wide berth.
Of course, there are other, more sophisticated explanations for the boy's rejection of insipid, childish songs like the one I have just rendered. Psychologically speaking, the boy's developmental task is to become a man. He does this by selecting some adult male figure, usually his father, as a person worthy of emulation. Later, this process, which is known as identification, and which is a perfectly wholesome phenomenon, leads him to worship from afar such heroes as baseball players and professional cowboys. It is inconceivable to him that such he-men would ever sing the kinds of songs he is asked to sing in school. Furthermore, when he does get a sample of their singing, as in a Gene Autry picture, he notices that they do not sing with "that soft, sweet tone," which is demanded of him by his school music teacher. The singing is vigorous, hearty, and straight-forward in style and he likes it.
The cure for the "boy problem" is a very simple one. Give the boy tuneful, masculine songs, and he will sing. And once his love of singing is well-established, he will be quite willing to learn more ethereal songs provided that they give artistic expression to sentiments which are genuinely has own.
Where shall we go to find the kind of songs which will win the boys back and which, if properly used, will re-establish vital singing traditions in our schools? The great composers with the exception of Schubert and Brahms have written very little that will serve our immediate purpose. Several of Schubert's art songs, such as "The Trout" contain child-like fantasy and tunes which are easy to sing. Some of Brahms's songs, especially those which he wrote for the Schumann children, also possess the qualities we are looking for. Unfortunately, the great bulk of their song production was intended for the professional Lieder singer and thus the number of usable songs from this source is small.
The only significant body of song literature left for our consideration is that of the folk song. Here we will have good company, indeed. Brahms made many settings of German folk songs. Other Romantic composers, such as Tchaikowsky, Moussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov, went further by introducing authentic folk melodies into their works. Many contemporary composers have been attracted to the folk music of their respective countries and have made it the basis for their mature musical styles. Stravinsky's Firebird and Petrouchka ballets, Bartok's Music for Percussion, Strings, and Celesta and Concerto for Orchestra, Vaughn Williams' On Wenlock Edge and A Serenade to Music, and Copland's Appalachian Spring and Billy the Kid ballets are all twentieth-century masterpieces which are directly based upon folk songs or inspired by folk song idioms.
The classical composer's interest in and use of folk music ought to be recommendation enough, but there are those in our profession who still shudder at the very mention of the term folk-song and who are much opposed to its use in the schools. Their apprehensions are in fact misapprehensions, as we shall see.
First of all, so much pseudo-folk music is current in our society that one can hardly use the term without being misunderstood. To some persons it means the slick, "souped-up" arrangements of collegiate entertainers such as the Kingston Trio or the Brothers Four. To others, it is synonymous with commercialized hillbilly music, otherwise known as "Country and Western" in the record trade. To still others, it is equivalent to the mournful ballads sung by members of the beat generation in Greenwich Village coffee houses.
The folk music I have in mind for use in the schools is none of these things.
As far as the younger children are concerned, it is the traditional music of childhood, which has been known and loved for generations. For example, how many of you remember this nursery song?
|High Diddle, Diddle,|
|a Cat and a Fiddle|
|The Cow jump'd over the Moon:|
|the little Dog laugh'd for to see the Sport|
|and the Dish ran away with the Spoon.7|
How old do you suppose it is? It first appeared in Tommy Thumb's Song Book for All Little Masters and Misses, which was published in 1788 by Isaiah Thomas of Worcester. This collection of charming ditties, which included other favorites such as "Oranges and Lemons" and "Who Killed Cock Robin?", had a very definite musical purpose. It was to supply a repertory of songs, which were to be sung by all good nurses to the children in their care until such a time as the youngsters could sing for themselves.
As far as the older children and adolescents are concerned, the folk music I have in mind is the traditional music of our great, great grandfathers and grandmothers, who were immortalized by Walt Whitman in the poem which begins, "I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear." It is the music of the forty-niner setting out for California in search of gold, of the Nantucket whalerman seeking the monsters of the deep, of the Irishman building our railroads, and of the legendary John Chapman planting apple seeds in the wilderness. It is the campaign song of Abe Lincoln and the spiritual of the Negro he set free. It is the lament of the cowboy who got shot in the back and who knew he had done wrong. In short, it is the music of all the people who helped build America.
The swing to folk music in the schools has been going on now for over sixty years. The English started the movement around 1900 when they adopted a collection of folk songs compiled by the great collector and scholar, Cecil Sharp. An American teacher, Thomas Whitney Surette, introduced the idea on this side of the Atlantic in 1921 by publishing the Concord Series with the assistance of Augustus Zanzig of Brookline and the late Archibald Davison of Harvard. The Germans were next. From 1930 to 1950 Carl Orff developed his Musik für Kinder, which is based exclusively upon the nursery rhymes and songs of his country. Then in 1943 the Hungarians under the leadership of Zoltan Kodaly introduced into their schools a magnificent collection of 500 folk songs, which was designed to supplant entirely the artificial songs they had heretofore used. Finally, in 1948 the late Ruth Crawford Seeger began bringing out her remarkable collections8 of American folk songs for children. These works were followed by those9 of Beatrice Landeck, who continues to contribute regularly to this field.
When we examine the newest standard song series published in America, we become aware of how well these pioneers of music education have done their jobs. The books are generously filled with folk songs from almost every nation in the world. Clearly, the issue now is not whether, but how to make the most effective use of folk music in our schools.
Knowledge of the failures and successes of various countries in using folk music in their schools provides valuable guidelines for our own endeavors. The introduction of folk songs into English schools did not initially bring about a widespread increase in singing, because only the most genteel examples of the form were employed and because folk songs were used as the basis for note-reading exercises. England is currently enjoying a folk singing revival comparable to the one which is going on in the United States, but the evidence suggests that this is due more to the popularization of modern scholarship than to the efforts of music teachers.
Hungary, on the other hand, has made great progress in preserving and promoting her cultural heritage through the schools, because her folk songs have been taught in a manner which is compatible to their historical function in society. Central to this mode of teaching is a folkloristic process, known as the oral tradition, whereby songs are passed on from person to person by voice and ear alone without reference to printed sources. Essentially, it is a rote method, similar to that used by Orff in Germany and Suzuki in Japan, in which style and content are communicated directly from the teacher to the learner without any interference from "eye problems."
Experimentation at the Harvard-Newton Summer Program has shown that vigorous out-of-school singing traditions can be established through in-school instruction in folk music when the rote method is emphasized. Parents reported that their children, boys included, had begun singing spontaneously around the home and had begun teaching their friends to sing favorite songs. Teachers came to music periods regularly and supported enthusiastically the singing assemblies which were given at the end of each summer session.
Lack of space prevents me from describing at any length the problems involved in setting up the kind of folk singing program that is suggested here. As you might suspect, much additional study on the part of the music teacher will be necessary to make it go. This task will not be an easy one, because the conventional teaching aids are very uneven as to quality. Many "folk songs" in the children's books have been substantially altered in tune and in text. The piano accompaniments are often over-elaborate and badly harmonized and the performances on the educational records designed to illustrate the books are usually in poor taste.
Such being the case the teacher's only hope is to turn to the scholarly collections10 from which the tunes were originally taken. Here, yet another problem will arise. As any ethnomusicologist will tell you, the musical transcriptions found on the pages of these books are no more than rough approximations of the real thing, because our notational system is not adequate for the subtleties involved. Reference to field recordings and to recordings made by those urban folk singers who sing out of a deep acquaintance with authentic performance practices will help to make the music in the books come alive. Mastery of one or more of the folk instruments such as the guitar, the five-string banjo, and the auto-harp will yield still more insight into the music and will serve as useful tools in presenting it to others.
The outcomes of the teacher's self-initiated study of folk music will be three-fold. First, he will have acquired the understanding that, whereas folk and classical music have much in common, they also have their differences, which must be respected if each is to retain its artistic identity. Second, he will have developed a personal singing style which is consistent with the traditions of the material being sung and which is worthy of emulation by his students. Third, he will have mastered a basic repertory of hearty, group-singable songs, which, when properly used, will nurture the singing spirit.
The third renovation to be included in my blueprint for the coming years is, therefore, a recommendation that the vocal music program be re-oriented toward our cultural heritage of folk song both as a literature and as an oral tradition so that singing will be restored to its rightful place in the lives of all students.
Once we have this matter of singing in hand we can direct our attention to the third major problem in our schools, namely the development of a comprehensive listening program. An exhaustive survey of what is being accomplished in this area would undoubtedly reveal that excellent work is being done by many teachers scattered throughout the nation. Their very separateness would, however, prove that, as far as any particular student is concerned, acquisition of knowledge and skill in listening is largely a function of chance.
If the elementary student receives his training in music in the self-contained classroom, his listening experiences may very well be limited to Peter and the Wolf and Tubby the Tuba. Once he is in the junior high school his growth as a listener may or may not be furthered by attending a general music class. If the sole objective of his teaching is that students should have fun with music, the chances are that he will know little more when he graduates than when he entered. If his teacher's principal goal is reasonable mastery of content and appropriate development of skill, the chances are that, given good teaching, he will become a skillful listener and will have a lot of fun in the process.
The need for a comprehensive listening program, especially at the junior high school level, has never been more urgent than at the present time. Instruction in the "solid subjects" has been up-graded in recent years to the point where they can be said to contain real intellectual content. This up-grading has served to strengthen their hold on the minds of both the students and the faculty to the point where academically less respectable subjects, such as music, are in danger of being reduced in status or pushed out of the curriculum. Listening, because it concerns itself with a body of literature of great cultural value, can supply the content, which will give music the academic respectability that is so necessary for survival in the schools of a highly competitive society.
The organization of a listening program will be fraught with many difficulties. To begin with, our junior high school music books, which were principally conceived as song books, are hopelessly inadequate for the job at hand. A few so-called listening unit books with supplementary "busy-work books" are on the market. Careful examination has caused us to reject them too, because of factual inaccuracy and superficial treatment of the topics. The lack of readymade listening textbooks at this level may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, since we are freed thereby to invent our own course of study.
Most of us would probably begin with a unit in depth on the instruments of the orchestra, not only because they are objects of considerable interest to the fledgling musicians found in our classes, but also because the orchestra is central to our musical life. Next, we would teach a unit on the literature of the orchestra and would organize our presentation in terms of the two general categories of musical expression. Program music would come first, because of its legitimate human interest and because the musical effects used to tell the stories could be employed to train the ears and educate the sensibilities of our student listeners. Overtures, tone poems, ballet suites, and incidental music for the theater would constitute the musical fare for this study. Absolute music would follow, because a higher order of listening skill is involved. Song form, minuet and trio, scherzo, rondo, theme and variations, sonata-allegro, and fugue would all be touched upon in our inquiry into form. An entire year, which would include regularly scheduled times for singing, musicianship, and seasonal observances, would be given over to these units.
We would probably commence the following year with a unit in depth on the voice, knowing full well that it is a subject which will demand exceptionally good teaching, if the traditional American prejudice in vocal matters is to be overcome. Next, we would teach a unit on the literature of the voice. The folk song, the art song, the round, the glee, the madrigal, the motet, the cantata, the oratorio, and finally the opera would be examined in terms of the most appealing examples in each genre.11
Once the basic aspects of instrumental and vocal music have been taught, we would move on to a series of shorter units which would be set up in terms of student and faculty interest. Jazz, the Music of Africa and Asia, Contemporary Music, the Science of Musical Sound, the History of America in Music, the English and Scottish Ballad, and Impressionism in Art and Music would be typical examples.
The practical difficulties, which I alluded to earlier, will have only just begun with the setting up of a course of study for the seventh and eighth grades. Budgetary support for the purchase of books, records, and audio-visual equipment and for the rental of films will have to be secured. Listening facilities for students will have to be constructed. Administrative approval for the granting of credit, the giving of grades, and the assigning of homework in music will have to be gained, whenever and wherever policies contrary to these things are in force.
Make no mistake about it. These things will come to pass only to the extent that we can justify them to our generalist colleagues, who may be more than a little skeptical about our attempt to bring culture to the masses.
They will certainly say that, whereas our listening program is destined for success in the schools of suburbia, it is doomed to disaster in the schools of our industrialized cities. We can only reply that in the final analysis, what we teach is limited more by our strengths and weaknesses as teachers than by the environment, however unfavorable.
There are, to be sure, many difficult environmental problems associated with teaching in working-class neighborhoods. Yet, to quote an old proverb, "Where there's a will, there's a way." In these situations the road to listening consists, not of launching into an analysis of Bach's Art of the Fugue on the opening day of school, but of deferring listening altogether until genuine rapport has been established through other activities in the music program, such as folk singing. Once mutual confidence and respect between the teacher and his students have been achieved, unit instruction may be started.
Ordinarily, the unit sequence may be taught as it has been sketched. Some of the esoteric units may, in good conscience, be modified or even eliminated from the course of study in situations involving very slow or very antagonistic students. Invidious comparisons between the classical music studied in the classroom and the popular music heard in the world at large should be avoided at all costs. (Never fear, great music, be it classical or popular, can state its own case more eloquently than the teacher can.) Emphasis ought to be placed instead upon the many fine cultural offerings currently available through the mass media. Thus, a LIFE article on Stravinsky may become the point of departure for a survey of modern music and an NBC TV production of Don Giovanni may become the justification for a brief look at opera.
Consideration of the educational uses to which the offerings of the mass media may be put leads us to the strongest single argument in favor of the listening program as a whole. The fantastic technology, which has helped this country to conquer space, has also enabled it to sell symphonies at the supermarket12 and to put Mr. Average Citizen in the best seat in the house at the opera, the concert hall, and the ballet theatre. Music education cannot afford to ignore these achievements much longer, for the general students of today are the mass audiences of tomorrow.
The fourth renovation to be included in my blueprint for the coming years, is, therefore, a recommendation that a comprehensive listening program be instituted at the junior high school level so that the general student of music will be prepared to select critically and enjoy fully the best offerings available to him through the mass media.
The extension of a comprehensive listening program to the high school waits upon the solution of a more general problem, the length of the school day. As you know, the six-period schedules now in force greatly hamper the abler students, who wish to take full advantage of the various subjects and activities offered by the modern high school. In many systems the day is so short that the players cannot elect to sing, the singers cannot elect to play, and neither can elect to take related courses in music history and theory, even when such courses are available. Music teachers in turn find themselves competing with each other for students and for the woefully inadequate amounts of rehearsal time allotted to the performing organizations.
Researchers have begun to question the premise that the schedule should be allowed to determine the scope and quality of educational experiences given to our young people. They have argued that it makes more sense to let the curriculum be the controlling factor in this matter. They have predicted that the rigid six-period day will in time be replaced by a flexible seven or eight-period day, which will take the collegiate day as its model. Courses will be laid out in checkerboard fashion and personal schedules for both teachers and students will contain a number of free periods each week for study and relaxation.
This development will be worth working for and waiting for, since it is the key to most of our musical problems in the high school. Members of the band, the chorus, and the orchestra will have more opportunity to practice together and will be able to elect related courses in music. Teachers will at long last be able to foster chamber music by coaching string quartets, wind quintets, brass choirs, and madrigal groups during school hours. In so doing, they will make a lasting contribution not only to the musical life of their students but also to the community at large, for it is the knowledgeable and skillful amateur who is the real motive power in a musical culture.
The fifth and final renovation to be included in my blueprint for the coming years is, therefore, a recommendation that an eight-period, collegiate day be adopted in the senior high school so that broader elective opportunities, such as music history, music theory, and chamber music, will be made available to the special student of music.
As I bring my duties as an amateur architect to a close I would like to say a few words which will give you a deeper appreciation of your historical mission. In this respect I can do no better than to quote the prophetic words of a man, who in his day did more for the advancement of music education in this country than any other person.
In 1926 Archibald Davison wrote:
The promise of a musical future is before us. In many parts of our country appear evidences of increasing wisdom in dealing with the problems of music teaching, and schools and communities in increasing numbers are bearing active witness to this fact. Too long we have listened to the prophets of mediocrity and the apostles of compromise. Theirs is the deadening cry, "Give people what they want"; but the true educator is he who ministers not to the wants but to the needs of men. When as a country we perceive this fact clearly, with all the sacrifices it involves, we may look forward with confidence to taking our place among music-loving nations.13
If he were alive today, he would be the first to rejoice with us at the very real progress we have made in all areas of music education. And, wonderful old curmudgeon that he was, he would also be the first to needle us about the work that must still be done to bring about the golden age of music which he envisioned.
Let us, therefore, set ourselves to the task before us so that future generations will honor us even as we honor him.
1Alfred Ellison. Music with Children. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1959. Pp. 39-47.
2Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman. Music for Children, Angel Records 3582B (Two 12" LP's).
Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman. Music for Children: Vol. I—Pentatonic, Vol. II—Major: Bordun, Vol. III—Major: Triads, Vol. IV—Minor: Bordun, Vol. V—Minor: Triads, Teacher's Manual, and Nursery Rhymes and Songs. Edition Schott.
NB. Orff instruments are available in this country through the Educational Music Bureau, Inc., 434 South Wabash, Chicago, Illinois.
3Paul Hindemith. Elementary Training for Musicians. 2nd Revised Edition. New York: Assoc. Music Publishers, 1949.
4Jacob Kwalwasser. Problems in Public School Music. New York: Witmark and Sons, 1932. Revised edition, pp. 33-50.
5For the latest of many exposés of this problem see "St. Joan of the Juke Box," Time Magazine, March 15, 1963, p. 50.
6There are two very good reasons why I have used this parody in place of the song that I originally intended to use. First, no one enjoys being lampooned, least of all editors and publishers. For this reason there is considerable doubt whether we could obtain the copyright owner's permission to print the song in question. Second, publication of that song would tend to focus attention unfairly upon one publisher. The sad truth of the matter is that nearly everyone in the school music business has committed the above artistic transgression at one time or another.
7A tune for this song may be found in the Burl Ives-Song Book (New York: Ballantine Books, 1953), Pocket Edition, p. 22. NB. The historical note which accompanies the song is in error.
8Ruth Crawford Seeger. American Folk Songs for Children. New York: Doubleday and Company, 1948.
. American Folk Songs for Children sung by Pete Seeger. Folkways FC 7001, 10" LP.
Ruth Crawford Seeger. Animal Folk Songs for Children. New York: Doubleday and Company, 1950.
. Animal Folk Songs for Children sung by Peggy Seeger. Folkways FC 7051, 10" LP.
Ruth Crawford Seeger. American Folk Songs for Christmas. New York: Doubleday and Company, 1953.
. American Folk Songs for Christmas sung by Peggy Seeger, her younger sisters, and a group of school children. Folkways FC 7053, 10" LP.
9Beatrice Landeck. Songs to Grow On. New York: Edwin B. Marks Music Corporation, 1950.
. Songs to Grow On. Sung by various singers including Pete Seeger. Folkways FC 7020, 10" LP.
Beatrice Landeck. More Songs to Grow On. New York: Edwin B. Marks Music Corporation, 1954.
. More Songs to Grow On. Sung by Alan Mills. Folkways FC 7009, 10" LP.
10See, for example: Songs of American Sailormen by J.C. Colcord, Folk Songs of Old New England by E.H. Linscott, Our Singing Country by J. and A. Lomax, Folk Song, U.S.A. by J. and A. Lomax, The Swapping Song Book by J. Ritchie, The American Songbag by C. Sandburg, English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians by C. Sharp, and The Ballad Tree by E. Wells.
11It goes without saying that the success of the units here described rests upon the quality of the work done by the music teacher. In teaching listening he must steer a course between dry-as-dust pedantry on the one hand, and sloppy over-romanticized approaches to the subject on the other. The Omnibus Programs and the N.Y. Philharmonic Orchestra's Young People's Concerts conducted by that remarkable music educator, Leonard Bernstein, provide many illustrations of effective techniques for presenting the excitement and substance of great music to laymen without talking down to them. See the following:
Leonard Bernstein. The Joy of Music. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1959. A book of essays and TV scripts from the Omnibus series.
. Bernstein on Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Columbia CL918.
. What is Jazz? Columbia CL919.
. Humor in Music (includes Til Eulenspiegel). Columbia ML5625.
. Young People's Concerts. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1962. A book of scripts, plus five 7" LP records.
12J.L. Morse, editor. Basic Library of the World's Greatest Music. Vols. 1-20. Twelve inch, long play recordings with notes available through the A & P Stores, Inc.
13Archibald T. Davison. Music Education in America. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1926. Pp. 186-187.