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My 2015 Role Model – Julia Ettie Crane

I have always believed strongly in the power of a great role model to provide some guidance as we navigate our academic, musical, social, and career paths of life.  When I was a little girl, I had like, a million, for everything.  I had the role model for how I wanted to dress when I grew up (Brenda from church, who always looked incredibly professional with the most perfect hair and posture), I had multiple teacher role models (Mrs. Hughes, my amazing music teacher in elementary school, Ms. Heath, the strict 2nd grade teacher who inspired my love of reading, and so many others on my road to music education), and so many more in my life.  As I come to this point of my life (almost finishing my PhD), I have been in search for a role model in my field, and I haven’t quite found the ideal role model just yet.  So I looked into the music teacher educators of the past.  I thought I would share with you a bit about one of my greatest role models in Music Education, Julia Ettie Crane.  She inspires me & I hope you will find inspiration from her too!

julia ettie crane

Julia Ettie Crane (1855 – 1923), a determined and dedicated music educator, is best known as the founder of the Crane Normal Institute of Music (now known as the Crane School of Music).[1] Frustrated with the lack of teacher training for music teachers, Crane sought out a pedagogically sound solution to this void in American education and was active in publishing multiple editions of her Music Teacher’s Manual as well as gaining expertise through summer training programs, and eventually founded the Crane School of Music.[2]

Concerned with the failure to teach both technique and musicality, Crane wrote the Music Teacher’s Manual.  This manual encourages the students at the State Normal School at Potsdam to surpass personal preferences regarding technique versus artistry and to consider the “child’s tastes, his various states of mind and body as he passes from infancy to manhood…” to decide these methods.[3]  Crane noticed early on the tendency for younger siblings of families who sing would develop a keen sense of hearing.  This realization sparked an interest in providing a better music education so that parents might provide a “home atmosphere in which music has its place.”[4]  Crane wanted to teach students from first to second grade exclusively by rote using games, dancing, marching, songs, and experiential learning.[5]  This was the time for students to learn a wide variety of songs at the appropriate level of difficulty.  Crane warned the future music teacher against choosing works that he or she might prefer, but to select music based upon student preferences and abilities.  Musical technique (including note-reading) must be taught once students are between 8 and 12 years old according to Crane’s method.  Additionally, Crane felt that to ignore the need for music literacy was to set the child up for future humiliation upon high school and college studies.  The Music Teacher’s Manual included a wide variety of detailed lesson plans for all levels of students, examinations, and instructions on how to evaluate musicians.[6]

music teachers manual pic

Recognizing the need for an authentic classroom setting, Crane created a model classroom in which all of her students practiced music teaching.[7]  This classroom gave students the balance between musicianship and educational pedagogy which she sought.  Crane’s beliefs on Music Education are still prevalent today.  In a time when music supervisors could not seem to come to an agreement about whether to teach music by rote or by note-reading, Julia Ettie Crane desired a compromise of the two.  Crane saw the need to develop listening skills in younger musicians and regularly discussed the neglect of the development of the senses.  She was incredibly future-minded and realized the inability to control the period of infancy, but believed that by educating children today, we would have parents in the future who would teach music to their children at home so that the future for music in the United States might be brighter.

Works Cited:

Crane, Julia E. Music Teacher’s Manual, 7th ed. Potsdam: Elliot Fay & Sons, 1918.

Mark, Michael L., and Charles L. Gary, A History of American Music Education. Lanham:            Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc., 2007.

Women of Courage, Ten North Country Pioneers in Profile. “Julia Ettie Crane.”  Accessed           October 5, 2014,

[1] Michael L. Mark and Charles L. Gary, A History of American Music Education (Lanham MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2007), 217.

[2] “Julia Ettie Crane,” Women of Courage, Ten North Country Pioneers in Profile, accessed October 5, 2014,

[3] Julia E. Crane, Music Teacher’s Manual, 7th ed. (Potsdam: Elliot Fay & Sons, 1918), 4.

[4] Crane, 5.

[5] Mark and Gary, 218.

[6] Crane.

[7] Mark and Gary, 217.

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