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Leonard Burkat

revised by Pamela Fox

Early settlers were concerned with musical education, and devotional singing is said to have had a place in the original curriculum at Harvard College, founded in 1636. The first published musical teaching material is the ‘admonition to the reader’, in the Bay Psalm Book of 1640, and the instructive introductions to 18th-century tune books extended this practice. By 1720 the traditional ‘old way of singing’ came under attack from those who favoured musically literate ‘regular singing’, and singing schools were established. A century of Yankee tunesmiths wrote and published the psalm settings and hymns that were their teaching pieces, but early 19th-century hymnodic reformers sought to replace earlier American psalmody with ‘scientific’ European models.

Lowell Mason studied the methods of Swiss educational theorist Pestalozzi and applied them to the children’s music classes that he taught in churches and private schools. In the Boston Academy of Music he held teacher-training classes in addition to its concerts. In ...