( Originally Published 1916 )
THE study of music should be made compulsory in the public schools.
The whole populace should be taught what true music is. The only way to accomplish this is to cause the children continually to hear, to sing, and to perform upon instruments music of the highest quality.
Cheap and nasty music is worse than cheap and nasty meat and bread; the former destroys the character, the latter only the body.
The average popular music of America to-day is without doubt the most base and evil ever in the world. It is without ingenuity, taste, or musical value. It is as injurious as profanity. The wretched tunes are more deleterious than the smut-words to which they are set.
A generation of boys and girls brought up on Bach, Beethoven, Gounod, and Wagner would have souls 100 per cent. higher in quality than the unfortunate children of today fed upon ragtime and melodies of contemptible inanity.
The greatest danger threatening this nation is that it may become utterly material and trivial; for triviality invariably accompanies materialism and the decay of ideals.
A nation that has no deep-hearted songs, a nation that can not or will not sing, can be no organic thing; it is but loose dust.
The most terrible trait of the laborers of the United States is not their violence nor their drink, but the fact that they do not sing at their meetings.
Cultured and well-to-do people have a tendency to perversion and idle mischief because there is no music in them. Who ever heard of a fashionable "function" where the guests sang choruses and part-songs?
Our people are educated to have music made AT them, not to make music themselves; a fatal, deadly mistake.
The American cabaret is a ghastly and, to an intelligent person, a most boresome affair. Watch the hideous, wriggling women and jumping males trying to entertain the eaters and drinkers, who sit with stolid, cheerless faces!
A company of German students in a beer cellar is jovial, because they can sing, and sing music that has worth.
Not the least reason why the church is losing its hold upon the masses is that congregations have ceased to sing. A company of worshippers that hire their music to be performed before them is already dead.
There can be no civic conscience, no clean politics, no firm organization of the people, without music as a basis. Those who cannot sing together
cannot act together for high spiritual and political ends.
Music is not an entertainment, an accomplishment, a side-show.
It is as necessary for .the populace to have music as they march toward their civic and national goals as it is for an army to have bands or to chant folk-hymns on its way to battle.
A dumb democracy is a dead one.
We are the dumb slaves of such organizations as Tammany because we do not sing; for those who have no music in their souls cannot keep step.
Why quarrel over teaching religion in the public schools? Why not teach music, which is the gist of all religions? "It is incontestable," says M. Victor de Laprade, a French writer on music, "that music induces in us a sense of the infinite and the contemplation of the invisible."
"See deep enough," says Carlyle, "and you see musically; the heart of Nature being everywhere music."
And William Watson :
Nay, what is Nature's
We must learn as a people to love good music, or we shall perish of sheer cheapness and shallowness of soul.