The Pupil's Own Summer School
There are very few pupils who will not benefit by some musical work during the summer months. To be out of touch with music entirely for a period of months will make the average student actually lose ground, and several weeks' work, perhaps even months will be needed to put him where he was at the end of the previous season. It is hardly to be questioned that the wise teacher before letting the pupil depart for the summer's holiday, will lav out some sort of mild study program. In most cases, however, it will be offered more in hope, than in expectation that it will be carried out, and the teacher rarely expects that any real "work" that has been suggested will bear examination at the beginning of the first. Fall quarter. Excuses are the usual offering from the returning youngsters, unless they are gifted with unusual seriousness, or have more than ordinarily watchful and ambitious parents.
A proportion of music teachers, whose professional interest is at stake, will spend some of their summer time in a "master class" but only, alas, a proportion. And even these classes for grownups must be given, to some extent, the character of play. So we can hardly expect any "summer work" plan to succeed with the smaller students unless it too has in it considerable of the play element.
The "play element" embodied in the Music Memory Contests which during the past years have become increasingly popular throughout the country is the key to their success. They require quickness of mind rather than application, though the latter is, no doubt, the factor that brings out the real winners. But it is, of course, fun to listen to selections of good music played over and to try to recognize them. And familiaritv with good music is a big step along the road to musical culture, and to a serious interest in music.
For student summer work it is easy to take a tip from the Music Memory Contest--thanks to the prevalence of the phonograph and player piano in our homes, and to the good music records and rolls that are available. Suggest to your pupils when they leave you for the Summer that you intend to have a Music Memory Contest when the class reassembles in the fall. Tell them that you want them to hear all the good music they can during the Summer, on player piano or phonograph, band, hotel orchestra, hurdy gurdy or what not; that they are to familiarize themselves with it, getting correctly name of composer and composition, and be prepared to play from memory melodies on the piano, or hunt them for you, also to identify compositions from their lists when you play them. At your option you can offer a little prize or medal for the student that makes the best record--age, etc., being taken into consideration of course.
Here is a musical game that will last all summer. It will bring out from the cabinets the neglected recordings of good music which are too quickly supplanted by the easier-to-listen-to popular music of to-day, or the merely utilitarian dance numbers. Doubtless it will result in the purchase of new recordings of the better music, and as a result improve the standard of the home collections. And every new place visited by the youngster will have to deliver up its choicest records or rolls for study.
Here is a plan which gets music study into the vacation without violence to either, and which offers, by the way, a practical means for stemming, to some extent, at least, the "jazz" craze which usually has full sway over the young folks during the heated months.