“The Better Class of Music”

Access to High Culture in Twentieth Century Waterloo County, Ontario

by Jonathan Crowe

“Progressive teachers throughout the Dominion are now fully alive to the beneficial effects of the study of Music as a refining, moral influence in the schoolroom and the home.”1 So wrote the Toronto-based music educator A. T. Cringan in 1889. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, music was seen as providing moral, cultural and social benefits to the listener. Teaching music would teach morality and self-control, build character and self-discipline, encourage church attendance, and provide constructive leisure.2

But not every kind of music provided these benefits; only a certain kind did: classical and canonical works, or otherwise morally and spiritually uplifting works, such as hymns or school music. Popular music had no such benefits; in fact, those who praised music’s benefits also claimed that popular music was as harmful as high-culture music was beneficial. Cringan, for example, argued that “[a] group of children singing a song of the sort sometimes classed as ‘popular’, in a harsh, raucous quality of tone, cannot be considered as engaged in producing an artistic effect on the minds of their hearers or adding to their own artistic development.”3 Popular music would ruin any hopes of being able to appreciate “the better class of music.”4 Without a proper musical education the music lover would be ensnared, and therefore debased, by popular music; such was the argument of Montreal high school music director D. M. Herbert in 1929:

after repeated disappointments the so-called good music bores him, for he understands it not, and so he turns from the good music to the not so good. His tastes deteriorates [sic] but he is happy; he has found some music that he can understand and he revels in it. The musician despairs, the parents grumble, and the man in the street asks the ever-present-with-us-question: What are the schools doing to prevent this rubbish from taking such a hold upon our youth?5

There was a clear dichotomy between the sort of music one would hear at recitals put on by local music societies and the sort one would find in the local theatres: the former provided moral benefits and acculturation to both performer and listener; the latter, mere entertainment.6 The question that this paper will try to address is: to what extent could people access the moral, cultural and social benefits of high-culture music?

Music historians have tended to ignore the question of who had access to the cultural activities they study. When the focus is not on composers and performers, as it too often is, it is on audiences, and not on those outside the concert hall doors, or the reasons why some do or can participate in musical activities, and why some do not or cannot. Who does or does not have access to certain kinds of culture can, I submit, reveal a great deal about social relationships. This paper is an initial experiment to ask some different questions about the social history of music, specifically, about the way in which participation in musical activities was affected by economic and social status. Did economic and social factors affect the kind of music to which people had access? The answer at which this paper arrives, as I will show, is yes. I will examine some of the ways in which music was taught and how music as a cultural commodity was consumed in Waterloo County, roughly between 1900 and 1930. Because I am examining the accessibility of so-called “high-culture” music, I will be focusing on the extent to which music was taught by the bastions of that culture, the public school system and private music teaching, and, briefly, the extent to which private music consumption in the home — i.e., the ability to own and play musical instruments — was accessible.

The first question to be addressed is this: how many students in the school system received an education in music? When Ministry of Education statistics for the County's Public and Catholic Separate Schools are combined,7 one finds that the rate of instruction rose from approximately 60 per cent in 1900 to over 97 per cent in 1920. Waterloo County's rates of instruction were higher than the provincial average: in Ontario, the rates rose from 53.3 per cent to 85.7 per cent in the same period. What factors influenced whether a student received an education in music? When the numbers are analyzed, some patterns begin to emerge.

More students enrolled in Catholic Separate Schools received a music education than those in Public Schools. In 1900, 81.4 per cent of Catholics were receiving instruction in music, while 65.9 per cent of Public School pupils received one. Throughout the period under examination — 1900 to 1930 — Catholic rates of instruction for the county and the province led those of Public Schools. But this is not as significant as it sounds. The difference is largely due to the fact that a greater percentage of Catholic schools were in urban areas than Public Schools. For both school systems, rates of music instruction in cities and towns led by far rates for rural schools. For example, in 1900, while 44.2 per cent of rural Public School students in Ontario were being taught music, in towns the rate was 71.6 per cent, and in cities, 81.3 per cent. Waterloo County’s rates reflected these provincial trends.

This dichotomy can be explained at least in part. School boards in Waterloo County towns controlled several schools each, but each board had only one music teacher, usually employed part-time, who taught at all the schools. Rural school sections normally had no more than one school and one teacher, who may or may not have been able to teach music.8 As A. T. Cringan noted in a 1922 article, it was much easier for urban centres to acquire music teachers than rural districts — but even large towns had their difficulties. In October 1907 Galt lost its music teacher, John Adamson, to Toronto, evidently a more desirable posting.9

The question of finding and keeping a music teacher was only one factor determining whether a school board chose to have or not to have music on the curriculum. School boards in Waterloo County cities and towns took their duties very seriously: time and effort were spent determining what to teach and how to teach it; expenditures of even a few dollars required a motion. Not only could teaching music require a special instructor, it also required substantial expenditures: pianos and their tuning, organs, sheet music and music textbooks. Given that music was outside the provincial funding equation and not a required course until 1924, it is not entirely surprising that other courses seemed more important. After Adamson resigned from the Galt public schools, the Board decided that the need for manual training and domestic science was far more pressing than that for music.10 It would seem that music had a low priority. On the other hand, the fact that music, for the most part, was taught in spite of the lack of provincial funding, the extra costs and staffing requirements, is significant. While other subjects may have held a greater priority, music had enough value to be taught most of the time, in most places.

Now that we have a sense of how many students were taught, what were they taught? Although there was a persistent debate over curriculum and methodology in music teaching in Ontario, the only sort of music students were taught was singing. In the late nineteenth century the debate was between defenders of traditional staff notation and adherents of the tonic sol-fa method, which is perhaps best explained quickly by referring you to The Sound of Music. In its written form, the traditional staves were replaced by verbal representations of the sol-fa syllables. Later, in the early twentieth century, the American song method began its ascendancy: it emphasized singing by rote before exercises in reading music would begin. So too did music appreciation when phonographs were available.11 The Department of Education was vague throughout this debate, suggesting a progression from rote singing through notation to the singing of sacred music, giving no real guidance.12

School boards and music teachers therefore had considerable discretion in terms of methodology; the Berlin and Galt boards in fact wrote to other school boards in 1900 seeking advice on the best method of teaching used. The Galt board found no set system in place: in some districts, for example, students sang by ear without either form of notation.13 But by 1915 at least the Galt Public Schools settled on the tonic sol-fa system: A. T. Cringan’s Canadian Music Course and Educational Music Course could be found on Galt school shelves.14 Cringan’s texts, which used sol-fa until the advanced level, at which staff notation was introduced, had in fact been the standard music textbooks in Ontario since 1893, and would remain so until 1933.15 Berlin’s music program, under the direction of Theodore Zoellner, bucked the trend and insisted upon staff notation.16

Cringan’s books contained a mix of rather inoffensive songs, ranging from hymns to pastorals to patriotic tunes. In that sense, Cringan followed the line of thought that music in and of itself was a means of improvement, rather than a medium through which improving messages could be passed. Others, however, wanted the medium to carry a message. Harry Hill, a music teacher based in Kitchener in the 1920s and 30s, made the following comment:

[I]t is surprising how many things can be taught by just having the children sing a song about them. We all know that milk is good for children, that they should clean their teeth regularly, and we have found that a song about these things fixes them in the mind far better than everlasting lectures by the teacher.17

Indeed, an earlier song textbook by Henry Francis Sefton was filled with songs with a blatantly didactic purpose, “producing a salutary effect on [pupils’] principles and habits.” Sefton’s book was withdrawn from the Ontario curriculum in 1884, but the idea that songs pupils sang should contain morally improving messages persisted.18 In fact, a Mr. Lindsay of the Galt Public School Board went so far as to suggest that the method was so irrelevant that regular teachers should conduct the singing rather than music teachers. He questioned the usefulness of bringing in a specialized teacher when the benefits of singing had very little to do with the quality of output. In 1903 he argued that

It appears that the object of having singing in schools is not so much to make our young people expert musicians as to create and develop a taste for singing, likewise for the education and character building value of the stirring words that are sung, also as a change and recreation when the scholars are lagging in their regular work.19

Although Lindsay was very much in the minority on this issue on the Galt board, his comments suggest the real value attached to music by those who decided whether music was taught at all before 1924 — the school boards. A public school music education was basic, enough to affect tastes, build character and discipline, and possibly improve church singing,20 but likely very little else. That only singing was taught, and that rote singing and sol-fa methods were used, combined with the lack of a systematic high school program, suggests that the public school music program was terminal. It was a system that tried to give the social and moral benefits of musical instruction with a minimum of effort and expenditure. Song was cheap and required an investment only in textbooks and possibly staff, if that; sol-fa and rote singing de-emphasized reading music and musical theory, and were an insufficient base for a musical career.

This conclusion is supported by evidence which suggests that, beyond the most rudimentary levels, the public music program required the existence of private instruction to round out a student's musical development, with which public music worked symbiotically. There are two reasons why this was the case. First, public school music instructors also taught private lessons. Theodore Zoellner, who taught voice at the public schools operated by the Berlin School Board, also taught instrumental music at his private studio. His school salary, which rose from $425 in 1900 to $650 in 1913, was comparable to that of a starting woman school teacher.21 Salaries paid by the Preston and Galt public school boards were equal to or well below the salaries of starting teachers or of caretakers; their schedules were equivalent to a day’s work per week. Clearly these music teachers were expected to supplement their income elsewhere.22

Second, the high school music prorgram required students who owned their own musical instruments and, presumably, knew how to play them. High school music was not a formal part of the curriculum in this period; where it existed at all it was extracurricular. Hardly any collegiates or high schools across the province offered music as a subject; when asked specifically to do so in 1921, Galt Collegiate declined, likely because it was overwhelmed by more pressing demands.23 But in the 1920s Galt did have a classical music society; Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate had a glee club of between 40 and 75 students; and each collegiate had an orchestra of between 15 and 30 students. The orchestras were motley collections of instruments — including violins and pianos — without any balance, which suggests that whoever had instruments at home brought them. But it is likely that the only way to learn how to play them in the first place was through private instruction. In 1929, Ernest Macmillan, then principal of the Toronto Conservatory of Music, argued that personal instruction was essential for instrumental instruction:

However desirable the practical study of an instrument (or of singing) may be, it is clearly a matter which only a private teacher or a School of Music can properly undertake. A beginning may, in some instances, be made in class. . . . But beyond a very early stage the pupil requires individual instruction, and this the High School can scarcely attempt to provide.24

Macmillan did encourage the development of high school orchestras, but his expectation seems to have been a collaboration between a public ensemble and private instruction to nurture musical talent.25

If public school music education was designed to improve a pupil’s character, a private music education was aimed at performance. From an early age through adulthood, Waterloo County residents had many opportunities to perform in public, at recitals held by their music teachers or by local musical societies. But these opportunities were highly gendered. For upper-middle-class young women music was one of the “ornamental arts”, like art, dance and needlework, deemed necessary for social survival. But not just any music was considered suitable for women. Voice was certainly appropriate, and was taught in ladies’ colleges, but instrumental music for women was largely limited to the piano. Men were neither expected to be nor barred from being musically accomplished. While the piano was considered a feminine instrument, men could certainly play it, and, particularly in Waterloo County, they also had the option of joining a marching band. County bands were active since the 1880s, but a so-called “ladies’ band” would not be organized until decades later.26

Moreover, private music education was expensive, as was private music consumption. While attending concerts was inexpensive or quite often free, owning a musical instrument and knowing how to play it involved considerable costs. Lessons for the Breithaupt family, for example, cost $80 a year for four children in 1874. A new piano during this period could range from several hundred to two thousand dollars; used pianos, organs and other instruments were considerably less expensive. Prices for phonographs around 1920 ranged from as little as $20 to as much as $250. These are not representative samples of costs, but they do suggest the sort of prices a music consumer would face.27 The question is whether many Waterloo County families could afford such prices. In 1901, for example, the average annual salary in the county was $843.82 in the north and $841.02 in the south; the average annual earnings from wage labour, $266.54 in the north and $327.80 in the south. These data are incomplete — less than one-sixth of the county’s residents earned a salary or worked at wage labour — and we are missing income information on agricultural and artisanal work. But they suggest that fewer people could afford an instrument or lessons to play it than we might expect.28

Does this mean that people without at least some financial resources had no access to high-culture, instrumental music? Not necessarily. Because of high-culture music’s refining qualities, it was a useful acquisition for the socially mobile. Owning a piano, for example, was a sign of respectability — never mind that no one in the house could play it. There were a number of options available to those determined enough to acquire the trappings of socially improving music. Buying on installment was commonplace: down payments as low as ten to fifteen dollars and monthly payments of four to six dollars per month were advertised. As Suzanne Morton’s study of a working-class Halifax suburb has shown, repossession of goods like pianos and phonographs bought on credit was commonplace, so it is clear that this was one way that poorer people acquired at least the appearance of musicality.29 So too was buying used instruments. Used pianos and organs were advertised regularly in local newspapers, and school boards in particular seem to have made a regular practice of buying privately and previously owned instruments.30 The extent to which working-class families could own musical instruments is unclear, and much more work needs to be done in this area. However, it is clear that the assertion several historians have made that virtually everyone had a piano in his or her parlour simply has to be questioned.31 While it was certainly not impossible, it was not an easy acqusition, and the factors involved were likely quite complex.

As you can see, this paper raises as many new questions as it has tried to answer. As such it’s only a beginning. Even so, a number of conclusions are possible. During this period, a certain kind of music was seen to have intrinsic benefits that generally improved a person's character. However, it is doubtful that very many people would have been able to take full advantage of all the benefits high-culture music was purported to offer. While the public school system taught music to its students more often than not, the level of proficiency a student would have to have upon completion was not enough to do anything beyond the ability to read some music and to sing. For advanced training, and any kind of instrumental instruction, one would have had to turn to private instruction — with which the system of public instruction worked. But private instruction and private consumption were costly enough to raise the question of whether they were at all affordable to most people. Clearly economics played a role in determining access to culture. Whether the proselytizing rhetoric of those advocating the benefits of music can be taken at face value, or whether, as Lawrence Levine has argued elsewhere, this is evidence of the maintenance of social differentiation, is up for discussion.32


I am indebted to the following individuals for their extraordinary assistance in providing access to records under their care: Susan Saunders Bellingham at the Doris Lewis Rare Book Room, University of Waterloo Library; Pablo Machetzki at the Waterloo County Board of Education, and Charlotte Woodley at Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate. In addition, valuable comments and assistance throughout the research and writing of this article were provided by Donald A. Bailey, Elizabeth Blondin, David Burley, Melissa Humphries and, in particular, Wendy Mitchinson, in whose graduate seminar on Canadian Social History at the University of Waterloo the earliest version of this article was presented in March 1995.

  1. A. T. Cringan, The Teacher’s Handbook of the Tonic Sol-fa System (Toronto, 1889).
  2. Diana Victoria Brault, “A History of the Ontario Music Educators’ Association (1919-1974)” (PhD dissertation, University of Rochester, 1977), pp. 7-8; George Campbell Trowsdale, “A History of Public School Music in Ontario” (EdD dissertation, University of Toronto, 1962), pp. 74, 89, 98, 107-08.
  3. A. T. Cringan, “Music in the Public Schools,” The School 10 (1921-22), p. 339.
  4. The phrase is found in the Galt Collegiate Institute and Vocational School yearbook, Specula Galtonia, June 1926, p. 43. Ernest Macmillan, “Suggestions for a Course of Music Study in the High Schools,” Proceedings of the Sixty-Seventh Annual Convention of the Ontario Educational Association (Toronto, 1928), p. 191.
  5. D. M. Herbert, “Organization and Methods, Course and Materials for Vocal Music in High Schools,” Proceedings of the Sixty-Eighth Convention of the Ontario Educational Association (Toronto, 1929), pp. 197-98.
  6. Elizabeth Blondin, “A Modern Drama: Theatre and Performance in Berlin, Ontario, 1880-1914” (MA cognate essay, University of Waterloo, 1996), argues that popular entertainment was viewed not in cultural but in economic terms.
  7. Statistics on rates of music instruction are taken from the Reports of the Minister of Education, Province of Ontario, for the years 1900-1930 (some years missing as of this draft).
  8. Waterloo County Board of Education records for rural school sections are sketchy; they are comprised mostly of minutes of annual ratepayers' associations. Nonetheless there are some traces of musical activity. See WCBE Archives R-0513, Elmira-Woolwich USS #4, Minutes (1886-1912), Meeting of November 17, 1900, p. 239; and WCBE Archives, North Dumfries SS #22 (Roseville), Minute Book (1914-1944), Meeting of May 2, 1918.
  9. Cringan, “Music in the Public Schools,” pp. 272-273; WCBE Archives R-0500, Galt Public School Board, Minutes (1902-1912), Meeting of October 4, 1907, p. 303. A dedicated music teacher does not appear to have been hired again until 1919; see WCBE Archives R-0500B, Galt Public School Board, Minutes (1912-1922), Meeting of 6 June 1919, p. 307.
  10. WCBE Archives R-0500, Galt Public School Board, Minutes (1902-1912), Report of the Special Committee on Music, September 5, 1908, p. 347, and Address of the Chairman, December 30, 1908, p. 363.
  11. On the debate, see Brault, “A History of the Ontario Music Educators’ Association”; Jeffrey W. Brown, “Public School Music in Hamilton, Ontario, 1853-1863” (MM thesis, University of Western Ontario, 1989); June Countryman, “An Analysis of Selected Song Series Textbooks Used in Ontario Schools, 1846-1965” (MM thesis, University of Western Ontario, 1981); J. Paul Green and Nancy F. Vogan, Music Education in Canada: A Historical Account (Toronto, 1991); Trowsdale, "A History of Public School Music in Ontario". On music appreciation, see Mae Skilling, “Music in Education,” The School 12 (1923-24), pp. 653-55.
  12. Brown, “Public School Music in Hamilton,” p. 43; George W. Ross, The School System of Ontario (Canada): Its History and Distinctive Features (New York, 1896), p. 65.
  13. WCBE Archives R-0503, Berlin Public School Board, Minute Book (1898-1908), Report by Special Committee, February 22, 1900, pp. 112-13; WCBE Archives R-0500, Galt Public School Board, Minutes (1892-1901), Report of the School Management Committee, October 5, 1900, p. 358.
  14. WCBE Archives R-0500B, Galt Public School Board, Minutes (1912-1922), Meeteing of May 7, 1915, pp. 137-39.
  15. Alexander Thom Cringan, Canadian Music Course, 3 vols. (Toronto, 1888); Trowsdale, “A History of Public School Music in Ontario,” pp. 349-50, 357-58.
  16. WCBE Archives R-0503, Berlin Public School Board, Minute Book (1898-1908), Report by Special Committee, February 22, 1900, pp. 112-13. The Preston Board may have followed Kitchener’s lead in 1926; see WCBE Archives R-0512, Preston Public School Board, Minutes (1917-1935), Meeting of February 2, 1926, p. 183.
  17. Harry Hill, School Music: Its Practice in the Class-Room (Waterloo, 1934), p. 37.
  18. Henry Francis Sefton, Three-Part Songs for the Use of the Pupils of the Public Schools of Canada (Toronto, 1868); Trowsdale, “A History of Public School Music in Ontario,” pp. 349-350, 357-58.
  19. WCBE Archives R-0500, Galt Public School Board, Minutes (1902-1912), Report of the Music Committee, Lindsay’s minority report, June 5, 1903, p. 64. See also WCBE Archives R-0500, Galt Public School Board, Minutes (1892-1901), Meeting of June 7, 1901, p. 379.
  20. James Johnson, the music supervisor in Hamilton from 1877 to 1917, wrote that music was “the handmaid of religion and by it we are enabled to harmonize our worship of our common Father and gracious God.” Quoted by Brown, “Public School Music in Hamilton,” pp. 48-49.
  21. Advertisement, Berlin News Record, August 28, 1913; WCBE Archives R-0503, Berlin Public School Board, Minute Book (1898-1908), Report of Special Committee, August 10, 1900, p. 142; WCBE Archives R-0503, Berlin Municipal Board of Education, Minute Book (1908-1915), Meeting of December 6, 1912, p. 207. Zoellner was also an organist at the New Jerusalem Church of Berlin (Gottlieb Liebbrandt, Little Paradise: The Saga of the German Canadians of Waterloo County, Ontario, 1800-1975, trans. by G. K. and M. G. Weissenborn [Kitchener, 1980], p. 141).
  22. Mrs. Ditchfield of Preston earned $300/year in 1927; throughout the 1920s a teacher in Preston could expect to make between $1000-1200/year. Mrs. Ditchfield, however, taught only one day a week (WCBE Archives R-0512, Preston Public School Board, Minutes [1917-1935], Meeting of December 6, 1927, p. 215 and passim). Similarly, John Adamson was paid $300/year by the Galt board in 1906 (WCBE Archives R-0500, Galt Public School Board, Minutes [1902-1912], Music Committee report, February 2, 1906, p. 206). In 1919 the Galt board offered J. L. Nicol an annual salary of $1,000; the minimum woman teacher's salary in that district was $800 at that time (WCBE Archives R-0500B, Galt Public School Board, Minutes [1912-1922], Meeting of June 6, 1919, p. 307).
  23. On high school music instruction province-wide, see the Reports of the Minister of Education, Province of Ontario; WCBE Archives R-0503, Galt Collegiate Institute Board, Minute Book (1918-1926), Meeting of September 8, 1921, p. 91.
  24. Macmillan, “Suggestions for a Course of Music Study for High Schools,” p. 189.
  25. Macmillan, “Suggestions for a Course of Music Study for High Schools,” p. 192.
  26. Kitchener-Waterloo Music Club Folder, Martha Edna Breithaupt Papers, Breithaupt Hewetson Clark Collection (hereafter BHC Collection), Doris Lewis Rare Book Room, University of Waterloo Library. Piano recital program, January 19, 1901, as well as Women’s Musical Society Folder and Ontario Ladies’ College Folder, Rosa Melvina Hewetson Clark Papers, BHC Collection. Jane Errington, “Ladies and Schoolmistresses: Educating Women in Early Nineteenth-Century Upper Canada,” Historical Studies in Education 6 (1994), p. 83; Arthur Loesser, Men, Women and Pianos: A Social History (New York, 1954), pp. 267-68; Craig H. Roell, The Piano in America, 1890-1940 (Chapel Hill, NC, 1989), pp. 15-16; B. Anne Wood, “The Hidden Curriculum of Ontario School Art, 1904-1940,” Ontario History 78 (1986), pp. 351-369. On local bands, see Kathryn Lamb, “Kitchener Ladies’ Band,” Waterloo Historical Society 63 (1975), pp. 4-10; John Mellor, Music in the Park: C. F. Thiele, Father of Canadian Band Music (Waterloo, 1988); E. H. Ronnenberg, “The Waterloo Band,” manuscript held in the Grace Schmidt Room, Kitchener Public Library (n.p., 1955); Douglas Shippey, “History of the Waterloo Musical Society, 1882-1963” (MM thesis, University of Western Ontario, 1984).
  27. L. J. Breithaupt Diaries (in translation), April 28, 1874, Record No. 2162, BHC Collection; Berlin Piano and Organ Co., Illustrated Catalogue of the Berlin Upright and Grand Pianofortes and Cabinet Organs (Berlin, n.d.), p. 23; advertisements in the Berlin News-Record, May 3, 1907, January 11 and October 30, 1913, and in the Kitchener Daily Record, April 22, 1921; Wayne Kelly, Downright Upright: A History of the Canadian Piano Industry (Toronto, 1991), p. 65.
  28. Earnings are based on the census districts of Waterloo North (including Berlin, Elmira, Waterloo, and the townships of Wellesley, Woolwich and the northern part of Waterloo township) and Waterloo South (which included Ayr, Galt, Hespeler, New Hamburg, Preston, and the townships of North Dumfries, Wilmot, and southern Waterloo). Dominion Bureau of Statistics, Fourth Census of Canada, 1901, Vol. 3: Manufactures (Ottawa, 1905), pp. 212-15, and Vol. 1: Population (Ottawa, 1902), p. 4. On the self-employed in nearby Brantford, see David G. Burley, A Particular Condition in Life: Self-Employment and Social Mobility in Victorian Brantford, Ontario (Kingston and Montreal, 1994).
  29. Heintzman and Co. advertisement, Berlin News-Record, January 3, 1907; advertisement reprinted in Kelly, Downright Upright, p. 15; Suzanne Morton, Ideal Surroundings: Domestic Life in a Working-Class Suburb in the 1920s (Toronto, 1995), pp. 45-46.
  30. Advertisement, Berlin News-Record, May 3, 1907; WCBE Archives R-0512, Preston Public School Board, Minutes (1917-1935), Meeting of November 11, 1930, p. 270.
  31. For example, Elizabeth Bloomfield, in Waterloo Township Through Two Centuries (Kitchener, 1995), writes that “[m]ost famillies had an organ in the parlour and would join in singsongs after the evening meal in winter” (p. 251). Frances Hoffman and Ryan Taylor take a similar view in their oral history collection, Much to Be Done: Private Life in Ontario from Victorian Diaries (Toronto, 1996): “A great many houses had a small piano. The ability to play it was a basic social accomplishment for young ladies. Many young men could also play. Playing and singing were great pleasures for performers and listeners. They may have had few additional opportunities to hear music, other than the organ on Sunday” (p. 209).
  32. Lawrence W. Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America (Cambridge, MA, 1988).