School Music

by Howard Clarke Davis

The fourteenth annual meeting of the Music Supervisors National Conference opened auspiciously on Monday, April fourth, at St.. .Joseph, Missouri, remaining in session through the following Friday. There was an attendance of approximately seven hundred supervisors and others engaged in kindred teaching from all parts of the country, including points on both the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards.

A perusal of the program which follows, reveals one of remarkably broad scope, with a, tendency toward the consideration of the strictly pedagogical and psychological aspects of the art rather than the old stereotyped discussion of methods of presentation. This is as it should be. The science of teaching and the art. of organization and administration are rapidly being recognized as major qualifications of the supervisor quite aside from his or her musical ability. We are finding that the supervisor who can work the plan after planning the work is the successful man or woman in this field.

Considerable attention was given to the subject of instrumental instruction. A special instrumental section was in session an entire day considering the matter from its various angles. It was noticeable also in this section that the desire of all the speakers was to give aid in the administration and organization of the various classes, orchestras and bands as well as to tell what to teach them. It should also be stated in no passing sense that the demonstrations by the visiting orchestras and bands from neighboring high and grammar schools was of a distinctly high order, bordering in some instances upon the professional in accomplishment. Certainly the middle West, showed its rapid strides in school music during the last ten years.

The Educational Council of the Conference is engaged in a very thorough and thoughtful consideration of courses of study for the training of supervisors of music. This council is composed of some of the foremost educators in this particular field, and should contribute in no small measure toward the unification and standardization of this branch of teaching. Unfortunately, the connection of some of its members with commercial interests makes it difficult for them to subordinate those interests to the general good. However, progress is being made and in a later issue we hope to be able to give the results of their deliberation.

Conspicuous mention should be made of the work shown by the St. Joseph schools under the direction of Miss Clara Sanford and her able assistant, Miss White. It will be remembered that in our April number of The Musician we discussed good music and concluded that first of all it must sound well. This music at St. Joseph did just this. While it had sufficient technical difficulty to be interesting, it was chiefly remarkable for its pure tone, excellent diction, clearly heard in any part of a hall seating two thousand, and the perfect discipline of the children.

St. Joseph proved an ideal convention city, the supervisors being entertained in true western hospitality. The directors of the local Spring Festival had arranged to have it occur simultaneously with the Conference, and the visitors were able to hear several programs by metropolitan artists of the highest rank.

All in all, the 1921 session was one of the most successful in the history of the organization. While, the attendance was not. equal to that, of the meeting last year in Philadelphia, owing to the high transportation rates, there was an atmosphere abroad which was very hopeful. Political difficulties which have seriously hindered the conference in the past are largely disappearing, and it is moving on toward a period of the greatest usefulness.

The session opened Monday morning, and after the registration, those in attendance visited the St. Joseph schools. In the afternoon there was a demonstration of a system for securing certain vocal effects from a mixed chorus, conducted by John R. Jones, the choral director of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Banks. In the evening a concert was given in the Coliseum by Arthur Shattuck, pianist, and the St. Olaf Choir, F. Melius Christiansen, director.

After the meeting of the executive board the formal opening of the conference Tuesday morning was marked by the address of the president, John W. Beattie, the director of music in Grand Rapids, Mich. Karl W. Gehrkens spoke on the Fine Art of Teaching, and then the conference witnessed a demonstration of the Lincoln System of class piano instruction, showing the results of the work done in the Lincoln Schools under the direction of Hazel G. Kinscella. After luncheon an orchestra from the Northeast High School of Kansas City rendered a program under the direction of Frank E. Chaffee.

The afternoon session opened with a discussion of music in the Intermediate or Junior High School, and Bird T. Baldwin, of the University of Iowa, spoke on the Psychology of Adolescence. Helen Garwin of Rochester, and Nellie Gross of Grand Rapids, led the discussion of practical elements of music work in the Junior High Schools, and the events of the day ended with a concert by a chorus of seventh and eighth grade children and the St. Joseph Municipal Orchestra, under the direction of Hugh McNutt. Margaret. Romaine was the soloist.

The outstanding features of Wednesday's sessions were the sectional meetings, at which were held discussions of the Supervisor in the small town, school music in rural and isolated communities, Music Appreciation Work in the Small System, Bands and Orchestras in Small Towns and Rural Communities, Glee Clubs and Choruses, the Training of Instrumental Supervisors, the Justification of Instrumental Music in the Public Schools, Problems of Class Instruction in Instrumental Music, the Grade School Orchestra, Material for School Bands and Orchestras, Music in the Large High School, Choral Work in the Large High School, Specific Voice Training in High Schools, Music as a Full Credit Earning Subject, Music in the Normal School, College and University, The Curriculum for Music Supervisors, and Music Department Responsibilities.

The musical programs of the day were rendered by an orchestra from the High School of Parsons, Kan., Charles McCray, Director, and twenty-two children from the schools of Greentop, Mo., gave a concert under Flora Wright.

The topic of the Thursday morning session was Music and Citizenship, and addresses were delivered by Edgar B. Gordon of the University of Wisconsin; Percival Chubb of St. Louis; Mrs. F. A. Sieberling, president of the National Federation of Musical Clubs; II. Augustine Smith of Boston University, and W. W. Norton, Lima, Ohio. The annual business meeting was held in the afternoon, and in the evening the Coliseum was the scene of the concert by the Music Supervisors' Chorus and Orchestra.

Friday morning was devoted to the report of the Educational Council, and in the afternoon there was a concert by combined grade school orchestras, a chorus of primary grade children, a group of children in folk dances, a selected orchestra and a chorus from the St. Joseph schools. The final event of the conference was a joint recital in the Coliseum by Florence Macbeth, soprano, and Oscar Seagle, baritone.