James A. Keene, Ph.D.
There are many “giants of music education,” maybe hundreds. It is perhaps impossible to know the many in every generation who teach music successfully—some who teach young children, others who teach the especially talented at prestigious institutions—conservatories, and schools of music. Others distinguish themselves with organizational work, setting the tone and process for others to follow—all important in their own way.
We meet Lowell Mason, Luther Whiting Mason, Frances Elliott Clark, W. Otto Miessner,
Edward Bailey Birge, Peter Dykema, James Lockhart Mursell, Mabelle Glenn, Thaddeus P.
Giddings, Will Earhart, and Joseph E. Maddy. This volume describes the lives and work of
only a few. There are many others who deserve to have their stories told—Lowell Mason was the first, not an original thinker, but a great organizer, a gifted natural teacher, the George Washington of the music education profession.
Each music educator made his or her contribution in a unique way. What they had in common was undeniable energy and a steadfast purpose. The path was never easy, but they persevered. We must not forget that they were all products of their time and place. Until the 1960s all popular art forms were denigrated by almost all music educators. Perhaps more surprising, however, was the almost universal disinclination to embrace American homegrown art unless it imitated the best of European art music.
Whether it be T. P Gidding who believed that the ability to read music was the sine qua non of music education, or Peter Dykema who believed that community singing would elevate the common musical taste, to James Mursell, whose intellectual brilliance appeared to make it most difficult for him to relate successfully on a personal level to the great commonality of the music education profession, all made their mark and were recognized by their contemporaries as
being outstanding. The music teachers of today and the music students who will be the music teachers of tomorrow need to know the profession’s previous giants. We stand on the shoulders of these men and women and thousands like them.
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