School Songbooks

Songbooks, school.

Songbooks, school

Songbooks, school. Those collections of songs that are intended for classroom use, generally are arranged according to pedagogical principles in progressive order of their application in teaching and accompanied by explanatory sections and glossaries, and sometimes incorporating instruction in rudiments or chapters on music appreciation. Books recommended or authorized for use in Canadian schools are included in this survey. Another large category of songbooks, those devoted to folksongs, are surveyed under Folk music. See also Solmization.

The earliest authorized music textbook in Canada was Henry Francis Sefton's Three Part Songs (James Campbell & Son, 1869), which contained a large number of British tunes and some from Canada and other countries. Like other educational material of the time, 19th-century songbooks aimed at rousing a student's interest in music, acquainting him with standard works, and encouraging socially approved behaviour.

This belief in the refining influence of music was evident in S.H. Preston's adaptations of The Public School Music Reader (Canada Publishing Co 1885) and The High School Music Reader (Canada Publishing Co 1885) by John Tufts and H.E. Holt, two US music educators. According to Preston, any teacher could learn a carefully graded series of exercises and songs for classroom presentation. Hand signs, syllables, numbers, and time-names were used to develop proficiency in tonal awareness and music reading.

In Alexander Cringan's The Canadian Music Course (Canada Publishing Co 1888) and The Educational Music Course (4 vols, Canada Publishing Co 1898-1907), syllables of the Tonic Sol-fa system ('doh' as the tonic of the prevailing key rather than 'doh' as C) replaced the actual notation. Cringan later wrote The New Canadian Song Series (Canada Publishing Co 1931-4).

Nineteenth-century Quebec songbooks included Le Chansonnier des collèges (bureau de 'l'Abeille' 1850, 1854, 1860; only the 1860 edition included the music), Chansonnier de tous les âges or Nouvelle Lyre canadienne (Chapleau 1858), and Le Chansonnier des écoles (A.J. Boucher 1876; the fourth edition, 1887, was authorized by the Roman Catholic School Commission of Montreal).

Among songbooks of the early 20th century were The King Edward Music Reader (Morang Educational Co 1903; compiled by H.J. Minchin and W.A. McIntyre and used in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) and Charles E. Whiting's The New Public School Music Course (Educational Book Co 1912). Whiting's course was published in four readers, the first of which was used in New Brunswick; it assumed that the child was acquainted with the Tonic Sol-fa system and that the appreciation of excellence in music was possible only through familiarity with folksongs.

Popular in Quebec was Chansons de Botrel pour l'école et le foyer (Beauchemin 1903, 1931, 1942, 1953), which contained several songs on Canadian subjects by Théodore Botrel (poet, singer, composer, b Dinan, France, 14 Sep 1868, d Pont-Aven, France, 1925), who toured Quebec several times prior to 1922. Louis Bouhier sponsored his appearances in Montreal.

Tufts and Holt's New Normal Music Course (Educational Book Co 1914; used in Saskatchewan and Manitoba) comprised graded exercises and songs grouped into sections, each illustrating a specific musical idea or fact (eg, 'Devotional and patriotic songs,' 'Divided beat in 3/8 and 6/8 time,' 'Easy chromatic progressions. Further study of after-beat note'). The prototype for this publication was S.H. Preston's The Normal Music Course (Canada Publishing Co 1883).

Another noteworthy publication was The Progressive Music Series (Gage 1921; by Horatio Parker and others), which reflected contemporary musical and pedagogical aims and grouped its songs in chapters according to the particular musical problems or sophistications they contained (eg, 'Syncopation,' 'Modulation to remote keys'). Suitable for supplementary use at this time were the School and Community Song Book, edited by A.S. Vogt and Healey Willan (Gage 1922, 1929, 1931, 1951); the High School Song Book, edited by James Walker (Renouf 1920; entirely religious in content); and Le Chansonnier canadien pour l'école et le foyer (Beauchemin 1931), by Uldéric S. Allaire.

In summary, these early songbooks demonstrated a belief in song, in particular folksong, as an efficacious means not only of broadening and conditioning musical tastes but also of imparting social mores. They also propounded systematic approaches to musical learning, most notably the Tonic Sol-fa system.

Concern with extending a student's musical reach was uppermost in later publications such as Ethel Coney and F.T.C. Wickett's New Canadian Music Course (5 vols Gage 1925; used in British Columbia and Nova Scotia), Richard.T. Bevan's Songs for Young Canadians (Thomas Nelson no date probably 1930s), Ernest MacMillan's A Book of Songs (Dent 1929; reprinted as A Canadian Song Book 1938), Ethel A. Kinley's The Manitoba School Song Book and A Song Book for Ontario Schools (both Clarke Irwin 1940, collections which included classical songs, Lieder, and conservative contemporary pieces), Joseph Beaulieu's Mon école chante (Laprairie 1956-64; part of the La Bonne Chanson collection and widely used in Ontario and Quebec), Marjorie Horner's The Classroom Chorister (Clarke Irwin, 1959), and Thomas Legrady's Lisons la musique (Fides, 1970; based on Kodály methods). An earlier collection, Harry Hill's eight-volume The Singing Period (Waterloo 1933-8), included pictorial reproductions of famous pieces of art and attempted to correlate music and other classroom themes such as ethics, courtesy, nature study, and safety habits.

The imparting of music-reading skills, however, remained a prime objective. Roy Fenwick, one of the authors of The High Road of Song series (3 vols, Gage 1943) and editor of The New High Road Music Series (8 vols, Gage 1954-60), felt that the power to read music was the key factor in keeping singers and players musically active after they left school. Leslie Bell, in The Chorister (2 vols, Gage 1947, 1950), reflected a similar belief. Through carefully graded song material which avoided emphasis on mechanical drill, Bell hoped to develop an appreciation for music and an understanding of its theory. He took into account the limitations of the adolescent voice, thus encouraging greater participation. Similar respect for young voices is evident in Don Wright's The Collegiate Choir (2 vols, Waterloo 1938, 1939) and Youthful Voices (3 vols, Thompson 1945, 1949, 1954).

Concern for the tastes of young people was taken into consideration in the textbooks of the 1950s and 1960s. Beautifully illustrated, easy-to-read materials taught them about the structure and theory of music by encouraging exploration, creativity, and problem-solving. This approach is evident in Lola MacQuarrie and Beth Douglas' Treasure Tunes (Clarke Irwin 1961); in Slind and Churchley's Basic Goals in Music (8 vols, McGraw Hill 1964-72), which uses folk materials from many lands; and in Songtime (8 vols, Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1963-7; by Vera Russell and others) and Songs for Today! (Waterloo 1970; by Richard Johnston and others). Other titles of interest are Charles-Émile Gadbois's La Bonne Chanson à l'école (La Bonne Chanson 1938-51), Ken Bray and others' For Young Musicians (Waterloo 1961, 1967, 1972, 1974) and Music for Young Canada (3 vols, Gage 1967-9), Keith Bissell's Let's Sing and Play (2 vols, Waterloo 1973, 1975), Monique Leduc's Je chante avec mes amis (Commission des écoles catholiques de Montréal 1975), and Joachim Sandvoss' A First Book of Songs for the French Classroom (Empire Music 1975).

Choral arrangements of Canadian folksongs, typified in Fowke and Johnston's Folk Songs of Canada, Chansons de Québec, and More Folk Songs of Canada (Waterloo 1954, 1957, 1967) and in Johnston's Chansons canadiennes-francaises (Waterloo 1964), are used often in schools. One collection designed to expose students to Canadian repertoire is Ian Bradley's Canadian Music for Schools (Leslie Music Supply 1974) which contains folk songs, composed songs, and recommendations and guides to instrumental music for listening in the classroom.

School music books of the later 20th century continued to reflect many of the aims of earlier texts: the desire to develop musical sensitivity, love of music, reading and aural skills, and knowledge of rudiments, forms, and procedures. Greater variety in presentation and implementation, however, is evident in those approaches which call on the student to analyse, listen, and perform. Although straightforward books of repertoire for the classroom such as Lois Birkenshaw's Come on Everybody, Let's Sing! (Thompson 1989-) and Claire Turcotte's Chansons d'initiation à la musique (Guerin 1985-) were still produced, comprehensive programs such as Musicanada (4 vols and recordings, Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1982-7 by Penny Louise Brooks and others) and Musictime (2 vols and recordings, GLC Silver Burdett 1985- by Lois Birkinshaw and Joan Clark) in English or Arc-en-Sons (3 vols and cassette, Beauchemin 1986, 1988 by Elaine Nannipieri-Nugent and Michèle Leblanc), Guy Fournier's Musicontact (2 vols Les Éditions HRW 1985) and Mon passeport musical (6 vols, Editions l'image et art 1986 by Isabelle Aubin and others) in French, contain teachers' manuals, student workbooks, books of piano accompaniments and in the case of Musicanada, a braille edition. The Arc-en-sons program also includes additional teaching aids such as playing cards and posters. Music Builders (6 teachers manuals and recordings, GLC and Berandol 1980-) uses a completely aural approach, introducing songs by rote and encouraging the exploration of new sounds often from improvised instruments. Canada Is... Music (2 vols, Thompson 1980-) has chosen its material largely from Canadian sources using music to highlight Canadian history, geography, and culture.

High school programs such as Jean Patenaude's Invitation à la musique (Les éditions Albani 1982) and Fanfare, act 2 (Clarke, Irwin 1970 by Colin Walley, Beth Douglas and Glen Harrison) have also appeared with updated approaches to teaching traditional music skills as well as programs designed to introduce the students to contemporary composition and performance techniques.


Further Reading

  • Weir, Don. 'Elementary school choral repertoire,' Recorder, vol 9, Nov 1966-Jan 1967

    Countryman, June Campbell. 'An analysis of selected school series textbooks used in Ontario schools 1846-1965,' M MUS thesis, University of Western Ontario 1981