Dr. Harvey Samuel Whistler Jr. (1907-1976): An Influential Pedagogue and Researcher in Music Education

By Dakon, Jacob M. | Journal of Historical Research in Music Education, October 2011 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Dr. Harvey Samuel Whistler Jr. (1907-1976): An Influential Pedagogue and Researcher in Music Education

Dakon, Jacob M., Journal of Historical Research in Music Education

Instrumental music education in U.S. public schools developed gradually in the Northeast and Midwest around 1896. Over the next thirty years, the instrumental movement gained strength through the organization provided by the development of the Music Supervisors National Conference and through the advocacy efforts of music education innovators such as Will Earhart and Joseph Maddy. By the end of the 1920s, instrumental courses were being accepted into public school curricula; (1) however, as with any new development, concerns arose. School administrators supported the new wave of musical innovations in the curricula, but they struggled to provide the economic and logistical means to sustain such programs. (2) Likewise, new programs required new instructional materials. Teachers needed appropriate pedagogical resources to help them structure their programs more effectively. As a result, an abundance of pedagogical innovations were initiated. (3)

One such innovator was Dr. Harvey Samuel Whistler Jr. As a violinist, pedagogue, and researcher, Whistler influenced the advancement of instrumental music education on many scholarly fronts, leaving a legacy of methods, collections, compositions, arrangements and other documents for band and string orchestra. Despite his sizeable output, little is known about his life and work aside from folklore and single-column biographies, many of which conflict or contain errors. (4)

This study has a threefold aim: (1) to write a detailed and accurate biography of Whistler that clarifies inconsistencies found in tertiary sources; (2) to discuss and assess the impact that Whistler's pedagogical contributions had on music education; and (3) to evaluate the impact that Whistler's research had on music education.


Most of the primary biographical data regarding Whistler's personal life were procured from Whistler's personal records and the oral recollections of Mrs. Georgeanna Kathryn Beaver Whistler, his wife and widow. The personal records I reviewed consisted of letter correspondence, authored articles, books and drafts, photographs, documents related to professional obligations, financial documents, and other personal memorabilia. The oral recollections of Mrs. Whistler consisted of three interviews. Each one lasted approximately one hour and consisted of a broad, rather than specific, array of questions.

Other data were gathered from primary source newspaper articles, Selma-Union High School annuals, a Charles W. Eliot Junior High School newsletter, and articles from the Music Educators Journal and Music Educators National Conference yearbooks. Whistler's authored texts, articles, master's thesis, doctoral candidacy exams, and dissertation were also reviewed.

Data were compared from interviews and Whistler's autobiographical documents with other personal records and the primary source documents described above to determine their veracity. Noteworthy discrepancies appear in the footnotes. Data were compiled thematically and then chronologically into historical narrative.

Early Life and Formal Education

Harvey Samuel Whistler Jr. was born on September 7, 1907, in Fresno, California. His earliest musical training consisted of piano lessons with his mother and trips to local symphony concerts with his father. By age seven, Whistler's parents enrolled him in violin and piano lessons. (5) He eventually abandoned his piano studies and began performing extensively on both violin and viola. The evidence regarding when and with whom Whistler studied violin conflicts. According to some sources, Whistler originally studied with professor George Hastings (1916-19), Will C. Hays of the San Francisco Symphony and director of the Fresno High School Orchestra (1919-24), Kornelis Bering of the San Francisco Symphony (1923-24), Carl Grissen of Oakland (1927), Josef Pirastro-Borissoff--a student of Pablo de Sarasate and Leopold Auer--in Los Angeles (1930-c.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Dr. Harvey Samuel Whistler Jr. (1907-1976): An Influential Pedagogue and Researcher in Music Education


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?