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October 2021

Singing as a Therapeutic Agent, inThe Etude, 1891-1949

Journal/Book: J Music Ther. 1999; 36: 125-143.

Abstract: The Etude music magazine, founded by Theodore Presser, was one of a number of popular music magazines published in the years prior to the establishment of the music therapy profession in 1950. During its publication run from 1883 to 1957, over 100 music therapy related articles appeared, including 13 on the health benefits of singing published between 1891 and 1949. Written by authors with diverse backgrounds, such as the famous Battle Creek, Michigan physician John Harvey Kellogg and Boston music critic Louis C. Elson, the articles contained consistent and adamant support regarding the health benefits of singing. The advantages described were both physical and psychological, and were recommended prophylactically for well persons and therapeutically for ill persons. Although the articles varied in perspective, from philosophical to theoretical to pedagogical, there is a consistent holistic medicine theme that appeared almost ahead of its time and no doubt linked to the push for vocal music education in that era. The importance of The Etude in promulgating ideas that helped shape the early practice of music therapy should not be underestimated. For much of its publication run The Etude was the largest music periodical in print, reaching its peak circulation of 250,000 copies per month in 1924.

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