The Child as Charmed Victim

Early Vocal Instruction and the Social Distinctions Conferred by Disease


General health occupied a sizable place in the Boston School Committee testimonials for vocal instruction in the 1830s and 1840s. That period is marked by the transition from older phrenologic and homeopathic practices in medicine to the laboratory science practiced first in Germany. The role that medicine at this time played in shaping the general kindergarten through twelfth grade music curriculum has been underestimated and largely overlooked. Medical concepts were prominent in Horace Mann’s support for vocal instruction: “Good blood [enriched by the oxygenating effects of singing] … more active and vigorous play to all the organs of absorption, assimilation and excretion” (Mann, 1844, 49). Mann’s ideas were considered unscientific by the early twentieth century, when historical accounts of music education began to appear, but they have considerable significance for the reception of and support for public music instruction.


Early Nineteenth Century Music Instruction Future Citizen Racial Hierarchy Song Lyric 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 52.
    See John Greenleaf Whittier, “Snow-Bound,” in The American Tradition in Literature (New York: W. W. Norton, 1961), 724–41.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ruth Gustafson 2009

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations