The contributions of Thomas Alva Edison to music education
Kelleher, Kevin Daniel
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With the invention of the phonograph in 1877, Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) ushered in a new era of musical experiences. Among other things, his device provided new learning opportunities for both amateur and professional musicians, in addition to non-musicians. By 1906, Edison recordings were being made for the Siegel-Myers Correspondence School of Music's distance instruction program, five years before Edison's major competitor, the Victor Talking Machine Company, established its education department under the direction of Frances Elliott Clark (1860-1958). The major difference between the competitors' devices was that the Edison phonograph allowed users to record music and the Victor talking machine did not. Despite this disadvantage, the Victor device was marketed more successfully as an aid to music education. Although Edison's phonograph companies encouraged music education through student performance, self-recording, and correspondence feedback, in 1921 Thomas A. Edison, Inc. hired Charles H. Farnsworth (1859-1947) to, in part, replicate Victor's successful approach to music education: learning to appreciate music through listening to recorded music. While Edison and his phonograph have received considerable attention in some scholarly literature, there has been no significant research on his or his companies' involvement with music education. The purpose of this study was to help fill this gap in the literature. Toward that end, the following research questions were addressed: (1) In what ways did Thomas A. Edison contribute to music education? (2) In what ways did Edison's phonograph companies contribute to music education? (3) How, and to whom, did Edison's phonograph companies market their phonographs and other music education products? and (4) How did Edison's approach to music instruction via the phonograph differ from that of Frances Elliott Clark and the Victor Talking Machine Company? Historical research techniques were used in this study, beginning with an examination of documents at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange, New Jersey, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Historical Center at the University of Maryland, College Park, and the Music Library at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. These archives contain primary source material about Edison, Clark, and the Edison and Victor phonograph companies.
Thesis (D.M.A.)--Boston University