Vocal Music and the Classroom Teacher, 1885 to 1905

Don D. Coffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


One hundred years ago, public school vocal music was taught primarily by regular classroom teachers and not by music specialists. What was the quality of the preparation of these teachers and the extent of their music teaching? What can today's music educators learn from a time when music could have been called a “basic” in the classroom? This study reviewed educational philosophies of the period from 1885 to 1905, teacher preparation at normal institutes, certification examinations in vocal music, techniques of classroom teacher supervision by music specialists, and methods of teaching vocal music. Four contemporary national surveys regarding the status of public school music were also examined. The study found that teachers trained at normal schools received between ten and fifty hours of music instruction, primarily in music theory. Supervision of grade teachers (instuctors of the period who were primarily responsible for grades one through eight) by music supervisors produced some striking successes and some failures. The study's findings suggest that music educators pursue joint efforts between music specialists and classroom teachers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-102
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Research in Music Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Music


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