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The Child as Charmed Victim

Early Vocal Instruction and the Social Distinctions Conferred by Disease
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Abstract

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.

Keywords

Early Nineteenth Century Music Instruction Future Citizen Racial Hierarchy Song Lyric 
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Notes

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

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© Ruth Gustafson 2009

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