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The Teaching of Elementary Music: The Defining of Music in Relation to Its Expressive Use

by Mari Ruef Hofer - 1904

In its adjustment to the schools, we do not seem to have claimed for music the normal order maintained for other subjects of the curriculum. In planning courses in arithmetic, geography or history, we first consult the nature of the subject in regard to its worth as a study and its worth to the child, and from this is approximately gauged its true value and relation "to the programme. In the study of geography we do not spend our time on the possibilities of this subject for arithmetic when the immediate problems of geography itself and what it has to offer are of infinitely more consequence to the child. We have been guilty in music teaching of exalting the lesser value of the subject to the detriment of the greater. In ignoring the primary emotional nature of music and its relation to life we have placed its secondary or theoretical value first, and so thwarted its best use to education. Our entire energies have been given over to introducing the children to its symbolism and in giving them a technical training which will prepare them for music, paying least attention to the life which lies behind the symbol, in which it finds its real reason for being. As in teaching children to read, we have lost in the mechanical process the feeling for the content and the impulse for expression. We may fairly say that by ignoring the emotive uses of music we have not only lost its most vital function to the young child in the early stages of education, but the legitimate approach to the study of the subject itself.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 5 Number 1, 1904, p. 57-102
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 9789, Date Accessed: 2/17/2020 7:37:43 AM

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  • Mari Hofer

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