The major scale, as we first learn it, seems a perfectly simple thing. But if we think of it all our lives we shall never discover the wonders there are in it. Hence, three simple rules for us to follow in learning to think music are these:
1. To listen to all tones.
2. Never to stop studying the major scale.
3. To become accustomed to hear tones within.
If we are faithful to these we shall, with increasing study and industry, become more and more independent of the piano. We shall never think with our hands, nor depend upon anything outside of ourselves for the meaning contained in printed tone-thought.
If now we join two things we shall get the strength of both united, which is greater than of either alone.
If in our playing lessons we have only the very purest music (heart music, remember), and if we are faithful in our simpler thinking lessons, we shall gain the power not only of pure thought, but of stronger and stronger thought. This comes of being daily in the presence of great thoughts—for we are in the presence of great thoughts when we study great music, or read a great poem, or look at a great picture, or at a great building. All these things are but signs made manifest,—that is to say, made plain to us—of the pure thought of their makers.
Thomas Carlyle, a Scotch author of this century, spoke very truly when he said:
“Great men are profitable company; we cannot look upon a great man without gaining something by him."
WHAT WE SEE AND HEAR.
“You must feel the mountains above
you while you work upon your
little garden.”—Phillips Brooks.
Somewhere else we shall have some definite lessons in music-thinking. Let us then devote this Talk to finding out what is suggested to us by the things we see and hear.
Once a boy wrote down little songs. When the people asked him how he could do it, he replied by saying that he made his songs from thoughts which most other people let slip. We have already talked about thought and about learning to express it. If a person of pure thought will only store it up and become able to express it properly, when the time comes he can make little songs or many other things; for all things are made of thought. The poem is stored-up thought expressed in words; the great cathedral like the one at Winchester, in England, or the one near the Rhine, at Cologne, in Germany, is stored-up thought expressed in stone. So with the picture and the statue: they are stored-up thought on canvas and in marble. In short, we learn by looking at great things just what the little ones are; and we know from poems and buildings and the like, that these, and even commoner things, like a well-kept garden, a tidy room, a carefully learned lesson, even a smile on one’s face result, every one of them, from stored-up thought.