Biography of Miss Estelle Caprenter
San Francisco, CA Biographies

To the brilliant genius and fine administrative ability of Miss Estelle Carpenter must be accredited the great development of public school music in San Francisco, California. As director of music in the public schools of this city, she has achieved distinction of national scope; she has created something of vast civic import, a field of musical endeavor unsurpassed in any city of the world, and which has advanced the musical appreciation and comprehension of San Franciscans more than any other factor in the history of the city.

From the days of her childhood, Miss Carpenter has grown to womanhood under the influence of music. It has been her inspiration and the guiding motive of her life. When very young, she found her first musical training, her first exaltation of spirit, in the symphony concerts conducted by Walter Damrosch in New York city. She took instruction in vocal and instrumental music. Having completed her high school, kindergarten training, normal and university courses, she continued her musical studies in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and Boston; with Theodore Thomas, the noted orchestra leader; D. Protheroe; William C. Stadtfeld, conductor of the Loring Club; Otto Miessner; William Piutti, pupil of Liszt; William L. Tomlins, the great choral conductor; Dr. H. J. Stewart, composer, conductor, and now organist of San Diego; Frederick Ripley; G. Stanley Hall; Osburne McConathy; Frederic Inness, the noted bandmaster; Frederick Chapman; Edward Birge; Paul Steindorf, beloved orchestra leader and bandmaster; and others. She is a graduate of William L. Tomlins, conductor of the famous Apollo Club in Chicago, also conductor at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and world known for his methods in training children in chorus singing and in public school instruction in music. The latter's influence had much to do with shaping the methods of Miss Carpenter in her subsequent work. She utilized all of her time seeking her musical education. Summer vacations and leaves of absence were always employed in enhancing her knowledge in various cities and schools and universities, studying under and listening to great conductors and teachers and attending concerts of the music of the masters.

Having finished her musical studies in the east, she began her work with experimental classes, composed of both pupils and teachers, in the San Francisco public schools. Her methods quickly drew the interested attention of the city, and on the strength of one particular demonstration before the superintendent and the board of education, she was elected as director of music in the Normal School of the city. Significantly, the vote was unanimous. In this capacity, she accomplished excellent results with student teachers, and the demonstration lessons in the schools. At the close of the City Normal School she was appointed director of music in all of the schools of the San Francisco school department. About the time she was appointed to her present position, she was also chosen by Dr. Frederic Burk, president of the San Francisco State Normal School and Teachers' College, as director of music in that institution, and in this important work she developed many of the modern methods which she has since used, in lecturing and in model lessons in conducting and by demonstrations, and in making programs and procedures for the training school. She was likewise offered the place of director of music in the San Jose State Normal School by Dr. Morris Dailey, the president, after giving courses in that institution for some months, and positions as director of music in different eastern metropolitan centers, but these she declined, believing that her work in San Francisco justified all of her time and was worthy of her efforts. Her Normal College work and her lectures at conventions, institutes, clubs, etc., as well as her work with the teachers of this city, have made her influence felt throughout the state.

It is appropriate to note at this point Miss Carpenter's own definition of her vocation. In the Sierra Educational News she wrote as follows:

"In music education in the public schools the purposes are, to give an insight into the abiding spiritual power of music; to awaken the enjoyment and understanding of the aesthetic in music; to perfect the adequate utterance of music; to give a medium of self expression through voice, body and instrument; to quicken the mental powers and cultivate the creative instinct; to control the emotions and motive power. This makes for ideals, right action, character building and citizenship, thus producing an appreciation for the relative values of life. This makes possible an interest and love for the best music of all people, and an intelligent appreciation of it by the masses."

The above concise statement may well be appended by the fact that her own work has been of important influence on the civic life of San Francisco and on the general social and cultural affairs of the community as well as the pupils in the schools.

Miss Carpenter is one of the foremost patrons of music in San Francisco and is beloved by pupils and citizens for her untiring efforts for music, and for her relief work for teachers of San Francisco after the fire, and has consistently been a profound student of music and has embraced every opportunity to learn at first hand the work of others in the profession, in order to acquire new ideas which she might introduce in her own curriculum. She has traveled widely, visiting the principal cities of the United States. She has studied in such universities as Northwestern, Columbia, Boston, and California. She has attended innumerable concerts and operas, and she has contacted with such eminent educators as Colonel T. Parker; G. Stanley Hall, president of Clark University; John Dewey; Kate Douglas Wiggin; Vincent O'Shea, noted educator; Arthur Foote; Horatio Parker; Frank McMurray; Dr. Frederic Burk; Dr. A. Winship; Frederic Inness, the well known bandmaster; Paul Steindorf; Woodrow Wilson; Calvin Coolidge; Luther Burbank; Thomas Edison; Dr. Elmer E. Brown; and Edwin Markham.

The actual technique of musical education in the public schools of San Francisco as formulated by Miss Carpenter consists among other features of the development of pure tone quality of voice, ear training, sight singing, rhythm, song interpretation, part singing, and chorus work. In the schools, the child learns proper vocal methods, tone relations and scales, major, minor and chromatic, time, rhythm, phrasing and interpretation, with sight singing in three or four parts, and above all, a vital interest and love for the best music. The efficacy of Miss Carpenter's system is shown by the excellent results in the schools in choruses, orchestra work in music appreciation, and in the tremendous massed choruses which the people of San Francisco are privileged to hear at Exposition auditorium during Music week, when eight and ten thousand pupils sing without rehearsal. The singing of the glee clubs and other choruses also demonstrates the value of her methods. She always appreciates the cooperation of the as sistants, music teachers and regular teachers. Teachers are also given courses by Miss Carpenter in the subjects above named, the classes being compulsory. She has insisted on proved capability among the music teachers of the city. Additional teachers were appointed until there were sixty certified music teachers, and about three hundred departmental music teachers. There are about forty musically gifted principals, who supervise the music, and twenty two music teachers in junior high schools, sixteen in senior high schools, three field assistants and two bandmasters.

Outdoor choruses of six to ten thousand children, led by Miss Carpenter, have been acclaimed by the citizens of San Francisco and visitors from our country and abroad. Prominent among the appearances of these choruses were those of the Portola celebration, and Admission Day celebration, where she led six thousand pupils; the Fleet celebration of ten thousand in Golden Gate Park; many smaller choruses in the Panama-Pacific Exposition; also the choruses for Tetrazzini, when she was given a golden plate by the city and when she was honored at Lottas fountain. During the period of the United States' participation in the World War, Miss Carpenter conducted choruses of from five to eight thousand voices for the Liberty Loan drives in the auditorium and on the city hall steps, and the children and school bands provided the music for numerous other patriotic meetings in the city. Another notable event was the San Francisco welcome to Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh at the civic center, when forty thousand pupils sang the Star Spangled Banner. At Armistice Day celebrations, Miss Carpenter directs six thousand people, and during Community Chest drives all school performances are also aided by the voices of school children. At the dedication of the Lincoln statue on Lincoln's birthday anniversary in the civic auditorium, presented to the city by the Grand Army of the Republic and the Lincoln School Association, six thousand voices sang war time songs directed by Miss Carpenter. During the Foreign Trade Exposition, Better Homes Week Exposition, Industrial Shows Exposition, school bands, choruses and orchestras contributed their services, and the high school, glee clubs, junior high school music, the orchestras and Junior Band, R. O. T. C. bands, the Music Week public school concert in the auditorium further indicate the tremendous extent of the training established in the schools by Miss Carpenter. During the desperate period following the great fire of April 18, 1906, Miss Carpenter's work entitles her to a place of honor in the history of the city. The chorus of graduating pupils gathered from around the bay on June 2d, and the four thousand which she led in Golden Gate Park on July 4, 1906, accompanied by a one hundred piece band, the singing street festivals during the period of reconstruction, the dedication of fifty seven schools, the choruses of the Portola festival and Admission Day festival of six thousand at Union square, the never to be forgotten chorus for the United States fleet in Golden Gate Park of ten thousand, accompanied by a one hundred piece band, where sixty thousand people as audience sat on the grass listening, and the sailors cheered each song with delight; the choruses in honor of Madam Tetrazzini, Madam Schumann-Heink and other noted people, the school choruses at the dedications of public buildings, parks and playgrounds, and the great choruses and the community singing during the great war, gave an inspiration and courage to the citizens of San Francisco.

Charles Woodman, music editor of the San Francisco Call Post, in an article for the musical Review on San Francisco Public School Music, stated in part: "One of the most impressive things I saw when I first came to San Francisco, was a chorus of six thousand children singing patriotic and folk songs under the leadership of Estelle Carpenter on a stand erected at the corner of Union square and Powell street. I had not seen so many children singing in this country, though it is common enough in England. It was alluring to watch them and hear the clearness with which they sang - the good intonation, attack and release, with beautiful shading and phrasing following the authoritative and inspiring direction of Miss Carpenter. I stayed with my wife and watched, spellbound, until the end, standing unrecognized and unknown. Since then I have had many opportunities to enjoy similar experiences. I have often heard ten thousand children at the Exposition Auditorium, coming together for their regular Music Week exercises, where they were singing under Miss Carpenter, without any massed rehearsal, to the delight of everyone who appreciates the spontaneity of youth with the beauty and brilliance of young voices that show the benefit of proper training in breathing, tone production and phrasing, which characterizes the children singing under Miss Carpenter's guidance. I shall never forget that first experience. I was naturally led to seek for an introduction and to learn something about her status and accomplishments, which seemed absolutely unique; for I had never seen such mastery displayed by any other young woman in conducting a children's chorus and in bringing out the joyous reaction to music of children in excellent vocal expression in response to her leadership singing, in fact, that delighted them and those who heard it."

Miss Carpenter has received glowing tributes from others such as Charles Wakefield Cadman; Karl W. Gerkins, author and director of music at Oberlin University; Frederic Inness, great bandmaster; Madam Melba, famous opera star; Joseph Redding;. Luther Burbank; Thomas Edison; Edwin Markham; and many more.

Many musicians of note in the world today were pupils under Miss Carpenter in the San Francisco schools and received their inspirational love for music from her. Such artists as Mario Chamlee, the Metropolitan tenor; Myrtle Clair Donnelly, soprano of the San Francisco Opera Company; Florence Ringo of the Pacific Opera Company; Nathan Firestone, violinist; Audrey Farncroft of the San Francisco Light Opera; Radiana Pazmore, Paulina Talma, Merle Upton, singers; Charles Cooper, great American pianist; and Mary and Dorothy Pasmore of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, are but a few of many.

The additional features of importance created by Miss Carpenter in the San Francisco public school music teaching include that of music appreciation. The most beautiful and immortal songs have been discussed; phonographs and records were introduced and the popular music memory contest was started as a regular occurrence. At one test three thousand pupils participated, two theatres were necessary to accommodate them, and there were four hundred and seventy one winners and five wining teams. Forty thousand children prepared for these tests yearly. These tests were used as introduction for a regular course of music appreciation. This course includes exact instructions to teachers, a traveling library of three thousand records and pamphlets to permit pupils to record their own impressions, and one hundred phonographs for listening. Instrumental music has been introduced, and now high school and junior high school bands and orchestras are uniformly excellent, as are also many of the orchestras in the grade schools. Through Miss Carpenter's expert generalship and progressive attitude, the high school music became a compulsory subject, with music teachers for each high school. There are three thousand pupils taking music courses this year. Four periods of study each week are prescribed for each of the subjects, comprising harmony, sight singing, ear training, history of music and appreciation, orchestras, glee clubs, and bands. During the last year the board of education spent thirteen thousand dollars on band instruments alone.

The general features of Miss Carpenter's method are the uplift of the standard of music studied in the school by using only the first class material, and by the proper use of this material to encourage appreciation and performance of pupils. This material includes folk songs of different nations, classic music, and original compositions from living composers, and is adapted to the different stages of the child life. Miss Carpenter has based her instructions for the teachers upon sound principles of child study and pedagogy, and uses the state course of music and its manuals, in addition to supplementary books and wide use of octavos arranged for school use and selected by her, because of the beauty of the songs and their adaptation to the pupils' needs.

Musical study in the San Francisco schools begins with rote songs, rhythmic development and music appreciation in the first three grades, which is called the sensory period of a child's school life with the beginnings of technic ear training and sight singing. Music appreciation and music study are given through listening and activities, through singing and through creation expression. In the second, or associative period, comprising the fourth, fifth and sixth grades, ear training and sight singing and theory, music appreciation, song singing, interpretation, part singing, and vocal development are featured with allied activities and correlation with all subjects. Then, in the adolescents period, the seventh, eighth and ninth grades, in grade, elementary and junior high schools, the enjoyment of emotional moods is stressed through song singing, sight singing, music appreciation, vocal work, part singing, glee clubs, orchestras, and rhythms; from this study formal drills are given. In the senior and junior high schools, individual piano and instrumental instruction is given and encouraged. Miss Carpenter has made of her music teaching organization, an almost perfect mechanism; nothing is omitted, and if a pupil has either a bare trace of musical talent or enough amounting to genius it cannot escape complete development, so far as possible, under her marvelous system.

Here is a quotation from an interview with Miss Carpenter. "San Francisco, the city that has stood the test of fire and arisen from the ashes to a glorious realization of accomplishment, to great enterprises, to buildings, to music, to art, is known for its distinction in its musical attainments, and public school music education in San Francisco has been one of the great foundations and means for its appreciation to music. It has been the very ground work for the cultivation of music for the masses and for the exceptionally gifted. The spiritualizing force of music to the inner life, is a necessity to education. Education, with its many instruments working harmoniously together, forms a great orchestra which sends glorious vibrations steadily into the lives of legions and arouses into action, molds into being, and decides the destiny of those who come within the circle of its beneficent influence; and music, its education, is the vital and uplifting instrument of the orchestra. The public school music of San Francisco has been the agent for the uplifting of thousands into a rarefied atmosphere of purified emotions, intellectual understanding and culture and enjoyment, and has achieved through its classroom procedure, school music programs, vocal and instrumental, through ear training, sight singing, rhythms, music appreciation and other branches, through exhibitions within the school, and the community, project a foremost place in musical and civic life of the city."

In the work of the National Education Association, Miss Carpenter has always been an interested cooperator. She has served as president, vice president and secretary of the music section, and a member of the educational council. She holds the honor of having been the first life member of the National Education Association in San Francisco, and was the second member from the Pacific coast. She has been secretary of the California Teachers' Association, music section, for five years, and served several times as president of that section. She has also been on the programs of the National Conference and the California Teachers' Association; the National Education Association; and the Federation of California Music Clubs. She has been a speaker for clubs, institutes, teacher and musical organizations and the Parent Teacher Association, and has written often on musical subjects and music appreciation for magazines and other publications. Miss Carpenter has likewise composed a number of songs for children. She belongs to most of the local musical clubs, and is chairman of public school music in the California Federation of Music Clubs, and at its convention in San Francisco, conducted the chorus of Junior Clubs and addressed the convention. She is chairman of the San Francisco Public School Music Teachers' Association, which she organized; and she is a member of the committee of public school music for the National Federation of Music Clubs.

Miss Carpenter is a founder of the San Francisco Opera Company, and started the Young People's symphony concerts in San Francisco. She is a member of the Spring Festival Committee, the Summer Symphony Association, the State Public School Music Conference, and is one of the strongest supporters of the San Francisco Symphony. She is a member of the San Francisco Parent Teacher Association, the Schubert's Memorial, sponsors five Junior Clubs of the California Federation of Music Clubs, and is a Daughter of the American Revolution and has been given five medals from the American Legion for her patriotic work.

New features are continually added to the music teaching department of the San Francisco schools. Radio programs are given for the purpose of interesting the public. Miss Carpenter, with a sympathetic attitude toward the unfortunate, arranged for groups from the junior and senior high schools to render musical selections for hospital patients, for the Relief Home, the Old People's Home, and the Children's Hospital. In cooperation with the California Federation of Music Clubs, through its presidents, Miss Carpenter has designated Public School Music Day in each June to honor public school music throughout the state, and has conducted a pilgrimage to the schools with officers. Young People's symphony concerts are given five times in the spring of each year, through a number of public spirited citizens who sponsor them, and Miss Carpenter is one of the founders. As chairman of the Public School Music Week committee, Miss Carpenter organized and directed one hundred concerts in the various schools, with the cooperation of the superintendent of schools, the board of education, the principals and the Music Civic Association, and at the auditorium a great concert of nine thousand pupils was directed by her, in the presence of Mayor James J. Roiph, Jr., and other notables, and in the spring of 1931 with Mayor Rossi present. Open house days, festivals, drills, recitals, operettas, light operas, and Christmas fetes under the stars in Union square, and many other manifestations are Miss Carpenter's signal achievements in her present position. Civic affairs are frequently augmented by musical organizations from the public schools. In fact, their uniform excellence has placed them in great demand and made musical and civic history in San Francisco.

Miss Carpenter's broad vision, spiritual insight, rare sympathetic understanding, human helpfulness, expert generalship, progressive attitude, energized endeavor, fearless promotion of school music, have made her nationally known. She has received praise for her conductory from thousands and many distinguished musical personages, such as Madam Melba, Madam Tetrazzini, Madam Schumann-Heink, Luther Burbank, Joseph Redding, Frederic Inness, Paul Steindorf and others. Her magnetic personality has given radiant happiness and power to all who have come under her leadership.

Edwin Markham said of her, "I wish to look again upon her face and feel the melody of her spirit."

When one remembers that San Francisco stricken down, rose again gloriously, one must also remember that it rose to the sound of the music of the children led by Estelle Carpenter's hand, and that her work in the San Francisco public schools has made more complete the destiny of thousands who can now enjoy and perform the best music. San Francisco reaping the benefit is a music loving city and center and is known for its tremendous musical audiences for opera seasons, symphony concerts and musical events.

The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931

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