THE MUSICAL CURRICULUM (1864) AND THE NEW MUSICAL CURRICULUM (1872): GEORGE FREDERICK ROOT'S INTEGRATED PEDAGOGICAL APPROACH TO MUSIC EDUCATION

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2004-04-30

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Abstract

George Frederick Root (1820-1895) was widely known for his pedagogical approach to the teaching of music. He authored or composed more than seventy works of considerable length for use in classrooms, colleges, normal institutes, churches, and the concert hall.

George Root was a student and friend of Lowell Mason, and in 1839, became one of Mason's teaching assistants in the public schools of Boston. From 1845-1855, he taught at academies and colleges in the New York City area. In 1853, Root organized and directed the first three-month music normal institute in New York City.

Root was greatly influenced by Pestalozzi (1746-1827) whose principles became the foundation for Root's pedagogy. Root believed that music instruction should be available to all. His music and methods of teaching were published in numerous instructional manuals and were dispersed to thousands of teachers who attended his normal institutes during an approximate forty-year period.

The purpose of this dissertation is three-fold: (1) to compare the integrated pedagogical approach of Root's two instructional manuals for private instruction, The Musical Curriculum (1864) and The New Musical Curriculum (1872), with other manuals of the period; (2) to compare Root's pedagogy in his manuals for private instruction with that found in his manuals for group instruction; and (3) to compare Root's integrated pedagogical approach with that found in current theory and musicianship texts.

Root's two editions of The Musical Curriculum (1864 and 1872) are unique works of the period which integrate the study of theory, harmony, and sight-singing with piano and vocal training. His teaching method is comprehensive and progressive. Expressive and artistic performance is encouraged. The student is expected to think perceptively, engage in self-assessment, and develop creativity. These principles are also promoted in today's National Standards for the Fine Arts (2000).

A survey of current texts reveals that pedagogical approaches promoted in today's music classroom differ from those presented in Root's instructional manuals. The Musical Curriculum (1864) and The New Musical Curriculum (1872) could serve as models for new integrative curricula, programs, and texts in twenty-first century music classrooms.

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