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musician one can become. It is a point worth considering that although at school one studies many subjects which in after life are of not the slightest practical use, yet it is the study of these subjects which develops the brain power and enables one thoroughly to master whatever subject is ultimately taken up as the means to a livelihood. The average school-boy or girl cannot see the slightest use in the study of, say, Algebra and Geometry ; and in later life comparatively few have the need to make actual use of either of these subjects. But the use of studying them at school is that they help one to think logically and clearly, and to reason. In other words, they develop the mental ability. So with the teacher in later years. Anything that can be done to keep the brain active and fresh is greatly advantageous. Moreover, interest in some non- musical subject gives the brain a rest from undiluted music, and so enables the teacher to tackle the day's work refreshed by the change of mental activity. The saying " All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy " is absolutely true, and should be taken to heart by both teachers and students, the word " play " being liberally interpreted to include an interest in, if not the actual study of some non-musical subject. " A change is as good as a rest."

Teachers should remember that they are not really qualified to criticize the work of others unless they can first criticize their own. It is not at all uncommon to find the type of teacher who goes on year after year teaching the same pieces in the same way, without ever attempting to revise his ideas, or to keep in touch with the changes and improvements in the art of teaching which inevitably occur. In every way it is essential for the teacher to keep up to date in his methods and to study every new development in the teaching of his particular branch of music. This does not mean that he must necessarily adopt each fresh idea as it arises ; after all, the latest method is not invariably the best. But at least the teacher should take pains to understand whatever would-be reformers may put forward, and if he feels it to be of value, he should incorporate it into his own method. If not, it can be discarded. There are still a surprising number of teachers who pay no attention to the matter of Ear-training, even in its simplest form, unless some is found necessary for the purposes of an examination. And even then it is often left to chance, as is obvious to any examiner. Yet it is, and has been for years, a proved and generally acknowledged fact that some form of Aural Culture is an essential for all music students. Only in the case of pupils who are gifted with an abnormally good natural ear can the training be dispensed with.

Again, one finds all too frequently the teacher who never varies the pieces given to his pupils. In examinations it is common enough to have some three or four candidates obviously all from the same teacher, all presenting the same pieces and studies, regardless of individual differences and needs. It would seem that this type of teacher decides on two or three pieces of each grade of difficulty and uses them in a set order with every pupil, whether they are suitable or not And curiously enough, the pieces are often those which are of the least value for the development of technique and musicianship

To be continued

 

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