Sarah Glover and Tonic Sol-fa By Jody GawronSarah Glover: A Forgotten Pioneer in Music Education Peggy Bennett Journal of Research in Music Education,22(1), 49-65
Sarah Glover is a little known early music educator who is the originator of the Tonic Sol- fa system of note reading, still in use today. The goal of the times was to improve congregational singing. Sarah’s written piece, “Scheme to Render Psalmody Congregational” had her system of note reading included in it.
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E R YL E A L IF Sarah was born in Norwich, England in 1786. Her father was a rector. Sarah had early training in music, as was common for Englishwomen of the day. Late in her 20’s, Sarah became the music teacher of her father’s church.
Word spread about the exceptional quality of Miss Glover’s choirs. People wanted to know who the choirmaster was. People wanted to know the method for teaching being used. Young women began coming to train with her.
T SolfaSyst onic - em Sarah Glover would pick and choose parts of established educational methods and then add her own ideas. She said it was “best to instruct them on the same principle they learn speech…deducing theory from practice rather than practice from theory”. Bennett, P.D.(1984). Sarah Glover: A forgotten pioneer in music education. Journal of Research in Music Education,22(1), 49-65.
Sarah’s method for note-reading was not intended to replace traditional notation; it’s function was to aid in understanding how to read it. Four ways traditional notation was difficult to understand: 1. Note values and placement of notes on the staff. 2.Use of sharps and flats of the key signatures made understanding the scales difficult. 3.Clef signs made note names confusing. 4.Too many varying characters used to represent notes.
Impl ement t aion Miss Glover’s method was not well-supported. She was able to begin trying it out with a few girls from her school. It soon became apparent she needed a visual aid. Sarah created the “Norwich (English)Sol-fa Ladder”. The ladder was a series of charts matching keynotes with the sol-fa syllables.
She invented the “glass harmonicon”. The instrument was a type of dulcimer or autoharp. It was playable by anyone, even with no musical background or training. Not to be confused with the glass harmonica. It aligned with the moveable do system for ease of playing. It was inexpensive, so available to many people.
T Syla es he l bl Sarah used a version of Guido’s solfege syllables. Guido’s basic syllables were used with additional syllables added or adapted to illustrate the following scales: Major Minor Melodic minor Chromatic with sharps Chromatic with flats
Sarah Glover’s version of Guido’s solfege syllables are as follows for the diatonic scale: “Doh, ra, me, fah, sol, lah, te” Doh is moveable, always the first note of the scale. Other scale degrees use the same pattern of half and whole steps. Other syllable adaptations were given for differing scales, including the word endings of “oy” and “ow”. Bennett, P.D.(1984) p. 54
Ot musica concept her l s Part Singing Part singing was taught by canon or harmonic parts sung by either teacher or students. Interval Study Only a few intervals were learned apart from others • Doh, me, soh, doh Other intervals were learned within the canons. Rhythm Upper case letters followed by the appropriate number of lower case letters indicated duration. This was later adapted to using + - signs.
Saa Gov a J Cur en r h l er nd ohn w John Curwen is often mistakenly credited with inventing the system of tonic sol-fa with moveable “do”. Curwen was not a music educator. His book, The History of Nelly Vanner, launched Curwen as an educational authority. In his lectures on education, he began to include music as a topic, which familiarized him with Sarah . htp:/home2.bt Glover’s work t / connect t Pla .com/bf/ ques_files/ ge0 .j ima 28 pg
Curwen became so engrossed in Sarah Glover’s successful teaching method that at times he seemed to present it as his own material. He finally wrote to Glover in 1841, suggesting changes and alterations to her Tonic Sol-fa system of teaching. Glover did not accept Curwen’s alterations in 1841 or at any time in the future. There was often tension between the two of them. Curwen and Glover continued to write to each other until Glover’s death in 1867.
Summay r Sarah Glover’s contribution to music education is the moveable do Tonic Sol-fa method of teaching music, also know as the “Norwich Sol-fa” system. 150 years after its inception, it is still in use today. Sarah Glover’s work to find a way to teach singing and note reading for ease and beauty of sound still affects the work of music teachers today.
Bibl a iogr phy Bennett, Peggy D.Sarah Glover: A Forgotten Pioneer in Music Education.Journal of Research in Music Education,22.1(1984):49-65.