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(caption title) Patriotic Music in the Grades
Sallie K. Best
Greenville, N. C.
East Carolina Teachers Training School
Call number C370.5 T76 v. 4 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Appears in Training school quarterly. Vol. 4, no. 3 (Oct., Nov., Dec. 1917)
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SALLIE BEST, '18
WHY teach patriotic music in the grades? That is a question to be considered by every teacher at this particular time when our country is undergoing the greatest difficulty of its kind in history. The children hear of patriotism at home, in the Sunday school, and down the street. Why should they not hear of it in the classroom through patriotic music? The patriotic songs bring a message of patriotism to the children in such a way that they get the spirit and enjoy them, singing them with enthusiasm.
The ideal of history is not to teach facts alone, but to teach patriotism, which leads to the development of a better citizenship. The good citizen must have well-formed habits in respects to his community, his fellow members at large, and thereby will be interested in his nation. In the development of an ideal citizen music plays an indispensable part. Some great man has said: "Let me make the songs of a country, I care not who makes its laws."
Music in the grades can be made much more interesting and beneficial to the students if they thoroughly understand the songs they sing. Patriotic songs are useless unless taught with spirit. The spirit and interest taken in a song by the students depend entirely on the teacher. When the teacher puts forth her energy and interest in a song, the students in return put forth their energy and interest. Therefore we see where it is necessary for the teacher to understand thoroughly a song before she teaches it.
The patriotic songs which should by all means be taught in every school are as follows: "America," "Yankee Doodle," "Dixie," "Star-Spangled Banner," and "Columbia, Gem of the Ocean."
"America," our own patriotic song, the words of which were written by Dr. Samuel Smith, was adapted to an old English air, and it is the national air of England, "God Save the King."
"Yankee Doodle" was a song used by the British to ridicule the Americans during the Revolutionary War. The Americans took this ridicule with good spirit and turned the ridicule on the British by adopting the air as their own national air. The words we now have were not composed until 1776, about the time Washington took command of the army. This song is a genuine American song.
"Dixie," our own Southern air, was used merely as a song for amusement before the Civil War and was not at first adopted as a Southern song. This song was used even during the war as a piece that caused great amusement.
"The Star-Spangled Banner," our national air, should by all means be emphasized in the grades as our own national song. Every child should know what the "Star-Spangled Banner" stands for and should rise immediately when they hear it sung, and, if there is a flag, salute the flag during the singing. This song carries a sad but thrilling story with it which the children should know. During the war of 1812, about the time Baltimore was under bombardment, Francis Scott Key, who was a prisoner of war, was on a ship anchored out in the Chesapeake Bay. From this ship Key and his friends were in a position to see our flag waving over Fort McHenry during a battle. They watched anxiously all day, expecting each minute to see our flag come down. At night the noise of the bombardment was awful, and held them in suspense until in the morning as the first rays of the sun came over the hills Key could see our flag still waving. The words of this song came to his mind and he jotted them down on the back of an envelope. That day, after he was released as a prisoner, when he reached Baltimore he had handbills printed with the words of our national song.
"Columbia, Gem of the Ocean," is another of our national songs which carries a spirit of feeling with it.
The children should know something about the national songs of other countries, so that they may feel the sentiment of the songs as they feel their own. "La Marseillaise Hymn," the most popular of the French hymns, was composed in 1792, during the French Revolution. It was sung with much enthusiasm by the soldiers condemned to death as they were led out to give their lives for their country. The sounds of the song could be heard until the last one of twenty-one was taken. This song gained its popularity after "The Reign of Terror" and was adapted as the national air of France. This song is sung with feeling through all America.
The new songs that are sung by boys and girls today, showing our feeling in this war, are very interesting to teach in the classroom. A few of these songs, such as "We're Going Over," "Joan of Arc, They Are Calling You," "Over There," "What Kind of An American Are You?", "If I had a Son for Each Star in Old Glory," and "Good Bye, and Luck be with You, Laddie Boy," are splendid popular patriotic songs for the grades. All these have good thoughts and a martial swing in them which will develop a sympathetic feeling. These thoughts can be made much clearer by asking questions concerning them. The children take on to these quickly and enjoy them very much. They should be used to stir up a sentiment of patriotism among the students and are good to use in patriotic rallies.
In my practice teaching in the Model School I taught as my first song "We're Going Over." I tried to put my whole heart and soul into the song while teaching it, and the children were carried away with it. I asked thought questions about different phrases in the song, and they
gave quick response. By these questions the children soon learned the words and enjoyed singing it. This song is especially good to mark time by, and the children use it as a march coming out of chapel in the morning.
The following are a few of my questions on this song, "We're Going Over."
After I had sung the song for them I let them name it. Then my questions were as follows: "What do you think they are going over to France for?" "What fuss do they want us to settle up?" "Do we care if we have to settle up this fuss?" "What is it we are going to do to prove to them what the Yankee Doodle boys can do?" "Who are the Yankee Doodle boys?" "When are we coming home?"
The way of teaching patriotic music depends on whether it is taught to a class or to a crowd. In teaching and singing patriotic songs such as "America," "Dixie," and "The Star-Spangled Banner" the children should have books, if possible, but in teaching the popular patriotic music, as "We're Going Over," and "Over There," rote is best. The directions for teaching rote songs are as follows: