Justine Ward and the genesis of the Ward method of music education

2001 2001

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Abstract (summary)

The Ward method of music education was created in the early part of the twentieth century to promote the use of liturgical chant by teaching children vocal music reading skills. Its author, Justine Bayard Ward, was a newcomer to the Catholic Church and to the field of education, yet her approach proved successful and spread throughout the United States, Europe and other parts of the world. The goal of this dissertation is twofold: to document the influences that led the author to write and promote her method, and to trace its origins from pedagogical and notational antecedents. The ancient tradition of choral training in the Church, Wards upbringing, her musical training and aesthetic inclinations, and her zeal in furthering the liturgical and musical reforms of Pius X fostered the ideal environment for the creation of the Ward method. Evidence shows, however, that the materials and procedures were largely appropriations of pre-existing ideas. For example, the work in sight-singing was taken from the Galin-Paris-Chevé school, which flourished in nineteenth-century France, and the educational philosophy originated from her publisher, Rev. Thomas Shields. Ward's mentor, Rev. John Young, S.J., had combined bel canto vocal technique with Chevé exercises and, under Shields's guidance, Ward reshaped it.

Separation of musical elements, principally rhythm and pitch, and graduated exercises were key ingredients Ward inherited from Chevé. Students learned accurate pitch discrimination through daily sight-singing drills where numbers corresponded to the sung solfège syllables in moveable “do.” Justine Ward's contributions lie in skillfully incorporating the Chevé sight-singing drills, Young's vocal training, and Shields' theories of aesthetics and childhood development to attain her goal of teaching children music of quality. The repertoire consisted of classical melodies, European folk tunes, and Gregorian chant.

The Ward method spread through several avenues. Catholic Education Press began systematic publication of textbooks in the 1910s. Leaders in Catholic education were won over by demonstrations led by Justine Ward. More importantly, the Ward method spread through teacher training courses. It evolved in subsequent publications largely due to her recasting the material to reflect trends in music education and newer rhythmic theories in Gregorian chant.

Indexing (details)

Music education;
Religious education;
Education history;
0522: Music education
0527: Religious education
0413: Music
0520: Education history
0304: Biographies
Identifier / keyword
Communication and the arts; Education; Language, literature and linguistics; Catholic; Music education; Ward, Justine Bayard
Justine Ward and the genesis of the Ward method of music education
Bunbury, Richard Ramon
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 62/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780493391953, 0493391959
Heffernan, Charles
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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