Letters to the Editor of ‘The Glasgow Herald’: July 1874, “Music in Schools”

A letter from ‘PROGRESS’, which is dated the 14th of July, was published on page seven of the Herald on Thursday the 16th. The contributor was commenting on the letter headed ‘Mr Kidston and the Teaching of Music’, which was published in the newspaper on the 14th. It can be found elsewhere, in the Music section of this website.

The letter, headed ‘Music in Schools’, reads:


“Sir, – I am sorry to see that “A Certificated Teacher” should complain of the endeavour to raise the standard for the examination of music in elementary schools, and am surprised to learn that any classes should have been plucked in this examination. It is hardly possible to conceive how any one who professes to teach music should fail in teaching children under seven years of age to sing, by ear, six simple tunes, and children above seven to sing twelve, which is the Government requirement. Such an amount of musical knowledge is not rare among children in the nursery; and if any teacher cannot get classes in school to attain this minimum acquirement, the fault will certainly not rest upon the children. The teacher should consider what is the value of his certificate, and what would be thought of him as a teacher of English if he could not get his classes to repeat by heart six or twelve verses of poetry. Would such an examination be satisfactory to him, or to the parents of the children, as a test of the children’s knowledge of English reading, &c.; and, if not, why should he be satisfied with a similar test of musical instruction? In some schools examined recently in Glasgow, the teachers would be ashamed to present classes who could merely sing a few tunes by ear; and all children above mere infants not only sing from notes in two parts, but also read music from notes at sight, and showed their proficiency in ear exercises. Any teaching that comes short of this is a mere sham, and will soon come to be estimated by parents and school managers at its proper value. Why should not common sense be applied to the teaching of vocal music as well as to reading, writing, or arithmetic? All honour is due to Mr Kidston and every friend of music who endeavours to rescue this branch of education from the disgraceful position it has so long occupied.”