The Journey to Crane Begins

Transcription from an interview with Julia Crane by the editor of an earlier Normal School yearbook, date unknown:

JC: I was finishing the day in my vocal studio when the President of the Normal School Board called. The teacher of music in the school had resigned and he came to ask me if I would take the position. I answered promptly, “Oh no, I am doing a piece of work which is very enjoyable, which leaves me quite free to go and come as I like, and every year my class increases.”

[Mr. Watkins continued to try to persuade Miss Crane at length, indicating that she could do both since the position required only one period of class teaching per day and a few other minor commitments.]

To make a long story short, our discussion of the matter grew more interesting, and I finally told Mr. Watkins that one class period per day was not sufficient time in which to do the work in music that ought to be done in a Normal School, that the only thing that would tempt me to take the position would be the privilege of working out a plan which had been in my mind from the time I completed my Normal course. My Normal School instructors had made me very enthusiastic over Methods of Teaching, and I had realized that it ought to be thought possible to give similar instruction in Normal music classes. The thought had often been in my mind that with proper training, Normal graduates might be as well fitted to teach the music of the grades as they were to teach reading or history.

Mr. Watkins listened with great interest and finally said, “Miss Crane, if you will take this position, I promise you that I will do everything in my power to make it possible for you to work out your ideals.” The outcome of the matter was that I accepted the position at a salary of $300.00 per year and began work in September 1884.

One of my first steps was to read the Course of Study laid down by the authorities in charge of the State Normal Schools. Here I found a statement that all Normal students should be prepared to teach the music of the grades. I immediately wrote to Judge Andrew S. Draper, who was then State Superintendent of Education, and I told him what I had found, and asked him if that circular meant what it said. I was assured that the main aim of the music in Normal Schools was preparation for teaching the music of the grades. Then I wrote a letter, stating as clearly as I knew how to do, that for the accomplishment of the purpose, neither the time nor the money allotted by the state was adequate. I described the equipment necessary for a teacher to teach the music of the grades and the years of training necessary to acquire this preparation. Then I stated that I believed it was possible to so arrange a course of study in music that students entering with musical training might be fitted for teaching music, just as those who have studied reading and history learn in the Normal School the methods of teaching them. I then asked permission to do the work which I had outlined. The permission came and I started a piece of work, the results of which, as seen in the school today, I did not foresee even in my dreams.

[Miss Crane then goes on to talk about the new Principal Dr. E.H. Cook and how he rearranged the schedule to allow much more time for the music coursework. Again quoting from her comments:]

Meanwhile, some of my voice pupils entered the Normal classes in Sight Singing and Music Methods with the idea of fitting themselves for teaching music in the public schools. This was the beginning of the course which has developed into a Training School for Music Supervisors. This phase of the work began in 1886 and in 1888 were graduated the first “Special Music Teachers” ever sent out from any Normal Training School in the United States.  

(Julia E. Crane “History of the Institute,” The Yearbook, Potsdam Normal School, 1918, pg. 17) (pg.4)

The Journey to Crane Begins