“Evil at a glance”: “The Etude” educational cartoons from the Etude Music Magazine
Heimann, William Keith
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The earliest mass media images of a private music teacher in the United States were found in The Etude Music Magazine (1883-1957), the preeminent monthly music education journal marketed specifically to a profession that enjoyed accelerated growth in the early 20th Century. The Etude fostered an image of the private music teacher as a community leader and moral compass, charged with the responsibility of defending 19-century values of Christianity, patriotism, and Victorian mores in the face of rapid upheavals in the social, cultural, and political fabric of the times. Extensive research has established that the construction of individual and collective identities is largely the result of the commercial discourse published in mass media. The early 20th Century saw a phenomenal surge in commercial illustrations in newspapers and magazines, images that were specifically designed to promulgate a national character, establish cultural proprieties, encourage aspirations, and manipulate commerce. The Etude was no exception, and my grandmother, a private music teacher herself, and the person who raised me, was a perfect example of the intended audience for this inculcation. Her worldview was in large measure shaped by what she learned from The Etude, and consequently formed the basis for her parenting skills. Like the music it championed, most of the images in The Etude reflected its commitment to an exaltation of a refined, Eurocentric culture. Teachers were usually rendered in iconographic detail reminiscent of maternal or even divine tropes. However, in its first hesitant foray into the tabloid genre of cartoons, The Etude published a series of pen and ink illustrations in 1910 that examined encroaching forces of Evil that threatened the private music teacher’s obligation to maintain the culture, a duty my grandmother fervently embraced. Two research problems emerged. First, the impact of commercial illustration specifically targeted to music educators has never been examined; second, music iconography has not yet examined the genre of American commercial illustration, thus leaving a gap in the literature and an unresolved question of influence. Utilizing an autoethnographic narrative, this dissertation establishes the influence The Etude exerted on the culture of the time, and explores the intergenerational effect it had on my family and my own personal and professional identity as a music educator.