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1843: New way to learn singing tried

A Public Singing Class has lately been formed here on Hulhah’s system, under the superintendence of Mr Gitlin, who gives a lesson every Thursday evening1 at the Talbot Inn. The progress which the pupils have already made is very satisfactory.

Mr Young, the ‘Wizard of the North’, gave two performances at the Talbot last week, which were very thinly attended. The performances, however, gave great satisfaction.

From Brighton Gazette, 18 May 1843

John Pyke Hullah

Notes: John Pyke Hullah (27 June 1812 – 21 February 1884) was an English composer and teacher of music, whose promotion of vocal training is associated with the singing-class movement.

This was a mid-19th century social phenomenon in the United Kingdom which sought to teach sight-singing to children at primary school age, and which ultimately resulted in the formation of a large number of church choirs and choral societies.

Hullah was born at Worcester. He was a pupil of William Horsley from 1829, and entered the Royal Academy of Music in 1833.

He wrote an opera to words by Dickens, The Village Coquettes, produced in 1836; The Barbers of Bassora in 1837; and The Outpost in 1838, the last two at Covent Garden.

From 1839, when he went to Paris to investigate various systems of teaching music to large masses of people, he identified himself with Wilhem's system of the fixed 'do', in contrast to the moveable 'do' of the Tonic sol-fa. His adaptation of Wilhem's system was taught with enormous success from 1840 to 1860. His first-ever lesson was given at the Battersea College for training teachers (now University St Mark and St John Plymouth), in 1840, at the instigation of educationalist and college Principal James Kay Shuttleworth.

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.


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