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|An Address, Delivered Before the Hastings and Mason Musical Association, at Pittsfield, December 25, 1837 (Classic Reprint)
by Edward William Hooker
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Excerpt from An Address, Delivered Before the Hastings and Mason Musical Association, at Pittsfield, December 25, 1837
Our collections of musm, m years past, have commonly cons tained from two to ten or twelve pages of what have been called ground rules of music; necessary, - we are gravely told, - to be understood, before the learner can undertake to sing. This, now, is like publishing a collection of pieces of prose, or poetry, or both; and at the beginnihg of the book giving some ten or twelve pages of ground rules of reading to wit, the alphabet, a table'of sounds, the vowels, and diphthongs, a table of stops and marks, a few lessons in spelling, and some few directions on reading; all very wisely and respectfully recommended to the reader as being quite necessary to bennderstood before reading the book. A wonderful compliment, truly, the makers of collee tions of music have been in the habit of paying to the might and majesty of the human mind as though it could, in a few hours, perhaps minutes, take in a few general principles of an art or sci 'ence; and then stride, leap, or ﬂy, at once, over a thousand in termediate steps, into the perfection of skill in the application of them. We would, with all due respect, submit the question, whether at this distance of time from the days of Jubal, it may not possibly be safe to put ground rules of music, for learners, into books by themselves amplified and particularized and illus.trated, as may be necessary, for learners and that Editors of our Collections of Music should take it for granted that their readers are far enough advanced m prmmples, to use them with out a preface of such a kind? Then, the difference between a mere learner, and an actual reader of music, might perhaps be better understood and acted upon. With my own very limited capabilities for reading music, and my hopes that the present gen eration of learners will'be better educated than the last, I would confess myself thankful to some recent professional teachersin our country, who have furnished us some first books of music, de signed to precede the use of Collections and to help the learn er to walk, safely, one step at a time, into the art of reading ma sic, without any temptation to the hazardous experiment to which we have alluded. The principle of combination, in learning to perform music, must be made a practicable affair, in order to the education of good singers.
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