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From the PREFACE.
The art of training boys' voices for Church Choir singing has yet to be reduced to simple formulae, whereby the chief difficulties which beset the path of the young organist or choirmaster may be removed.
This present work is intended to perform the duties of a pioneer in this direction. It is hoped that the remarks and hints herein contained (which are the result of observation and experience during the course of many years) may be useful to all interested in the subject, and may be regarded as the nucleus for the further accumulation of both laws and facts, until a system, as perfect as possible, may be formed and founded for future guidance. It is hardly necessary to say that no literary merit has been aimed at. This work merely contains a set of maxims which, it is hoped, may be of use to young teachers who are entrusted with the musical education of choristers.
Excellent tuition can be obtained in all other branches of the musical profession in almost every part of the Kingdom; but the art of training boys to sing is one which can only be learnt by experience in those places where the culture of boys' voices is not neglected.
Even where the subject is a matter of daily use, it is found that there is often a want of system, and a frequent substitution of "rule of thumb" principles, which in a matter of such importance ought not to be resorted to.
Many organists of great executive ability, severally masters of the mechanical portion of their art, and collectively more skilful than the members of the same profession in any other country, are altogether wanting in power in the art of training boys' voices,, from the simple fact that they do not know how to set to work. They have never had the means of learning what they are called upon to teach. The remark made by one of our chief choral conductors some years ago as to the great and almost unaccountable dearth of capable choir-trainers, has not aroused the attention which might have been expected. To this day there are very few skilled labourers employed, although the work is increasing.
The clergy and others are beginning to feel that, although it is necessary to have a good executant at the organ, yet this is not all that is required to secure satisfactory results in the due performance of music in church.
It is not proposed to occupy the ground that is already ably filled by many writers of elementary works on the theory of music. The choirmaster may select the Treatise which best commends itself to his wishes. Here it is only proposed to supply him with a few hints to help him in his work of training boys' voices; and as these hints are intended for the choirmaster only, it has been considered desirable to publish a small cheap copy of the vocal exercises alone, for the use of pupils.
With these, among other considerations, in view, it has been thought proper to offer the remarks and suggestions contained in the following pages as an endeavour to fill the gap existing in musical educational literature….