"Let Us Give the Light to Them": Bookending the First Century of Music Educators Journal

By Freer, Patrick K. | Journal of Historical Research in Music Education, April 2015 | Go to article overview

"Let Us Give the Light to Them": Bookending the First Century of Music Educators Journal


Freer, Patrick K., Journal of Historical Research in Music Education


Music Educators Journal is the profession's oldest continuously published journal, and it has grown to encompass the largest worldwide readership of any music education publication. It did not start that way. The journal began as an informal pamphlet known as Music Supervisors' Bulletin in 1914, changed its name to Music Supervisors' Journal a year later, and became Music Educators Journal in 1934. This essay chronicles the recorded conversations about the journal's birth and the material printed in the first volume as a frame for viewing its centennial year in 2013-2014. It continues with an examination of related passages from articles appearing in the volume years that bookend the journal's first century of publication.

Previous authors have offered various historical accounts of the journal's creation. The journal's first editor, Peter W. Dykema, was profiled in Music Educators Journal upon his passing in 1951. A biography by his daughter, Helen Dykema Dengler, and a biographical dissertation by Henry Eisenkramer provided only cursory mention of the journal's founding and earliest years. (1) Two retrospectives on the sixtieth and seventy-fifth publication years of Music Educators Journal offered informative accountings of the administrative and financial aspects of the early publication years. (2) Additional historical context was presented in a 2007 overview of the first quarter century of the Music Supervisors' National Conference. (3) These were all retrospective accounts limited to specific facets of the journal. None was, of course, able to provide a comparison between the opening and closing volumes of the journal. Furthermore, these accounts all differed slightly in both their sources and the accuracy of the quoted material.

The purpose of this article, therefore, is to present an accurate chronicle of discussions about the founding of the journal as recorded principally in the Journal of Proceedings from the 1914, 1915, and 1916 annual meetings of the Music Supervisors' National Conference. Although copies of these proceedings can be obtained for perusal through libraries, they are scarce and were not available electronically at the time of this writing. One result is that details about the founding of the journal are largely unknown to contemporary music educators, including members of the current Music Educators Journal editorial committee. (4) A subsidiary purpose of the project was to examine featured articles in the journal's first and one hundredth years to illustrate resemblances and dissimilarities between the two volumes.

The Journal's Inception

A forerunner to the Music Supervisors' Bulletin was the privately owned School Music Monthly. (5) Two competing magazines, School Music and School Music Monthly, were founded within a thirty-day span in early 1900. Philip Cady Hayden was the founder of School Music Monthly. He was an Illinois music supervisor at the time and moved several months later to work in Keokuk, Iowa. Hayden oversaw the 1902 absorption of School Music and the subsequent 1904 designation of School Music Monthly as the official organ of the Department of Music within the National Education Association. The name of the magazine was shortened in 1908 to School Music and continued with that title through the final issue in 1936.

Hayden used his journal to publicize the 1907 meeting in Keokuk at which the Music Supervisors' National Conference was born. The name "Music Supervisors' National Conference" (MSNC) was initially synonymous with National Conference of Music Supervisors, with the latter technically referring to the annual meeting of the MSNC. (6) Although Frances Elliott Clark is credited as the founding president of the MSNC, Hayden was the first MSNC president elected to serve a full two-year term (1907-1909). (7)

The formation of the Music Supervisors' Bulletin was rather inauspicious. It began with a simple motion at the association's business meeting at 11 AM on Thursday, April 30, 1914, in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

   Mrs. … 

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