Viewing page 16 of 24

[[image - drawing of a quintet singing]]

Music at Birney School

Music has always played an important role in the curriculum of Birney School. It has inspired and discovered young talent through many activities, some of which include assembly programs, graduation exercises, rhythmical activities, recordings, and recitals. Through these varied activities many children have developed in voice and in instrumental ability.

These school programs have been prompted under fine leadership in 1928 of Mr. Edward Syphax, a teacher of the fifth grade at that time who prepared pupils for music assemblies and graduation exercises. His excellent leadership produced many outstanding programs. In 1930 Mr. Walter Brown was pianist and choral leader of assembly music and eighth grade graduation exercises. His leadership also proved successful and worthwhile. In 1934, Mrs. Helen D. Norville, a teacher of the eighth grade, assisted by Mrs. Helen Martin of the Music Department of the Public Schools, Divisions 10-13, had charge of graduation exercises and choral groups. Through her splendid leadership and effort, pupils received inspiration to develop their varied musical abilities. Many outstanding programs were presented.

In 1946 Mr. John A. Hall, a teacher of the fifth grade organized a Glee Club consisting of more than a hundred voices. These children's voices were tested and organized either as soprano or alto. This group has had several annual activities since its inception. The Birney Glee Club has performed each Christmas both here and at schools throughout the city; namely, Franklin School, Anthony Bowen and Giddings; it has rendered fine recitals since 1947. It has served the community through programs given at the neighborhood churches. Now arduously preparing for this year's activities with the splendid cooperation of the principal and teachers, this group is constantly trying to improve itself culturally through challenging and varied activities in the field of music.

It is believed that music can express a deep appreciation and respect for the contributions of others regardless of race, color, or creed. The American way of life can be exemplified through this medium, and as a developer of this democratic ideal, Birney School has and always will encourage its use.

J.A. Hall
Interview with Mrs. H. D. Norville.

[[line]]

dren to the Howard University Dental Clinic, while other half-day teachers took groups to the different pediatric clinics at nearby hospitals to arrange for minor operations pupils needed.

The individual teacher at Birney has tried in the classroom to further this health program by sending letters to parents informing them of their children's defects by insisting upon good health habits for each child, by providing a social studies program, in some cases, that emphasizes the importance of health and nutrition.

The school has also tried to improve the mental health of its pupils, through the development of knowledges of good leisure time activity, through sharing activities through sharing organized sports, and through the encouragement of proper recreational activities.

M. E. Freeman

Page 16  
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact transcribe@si.edu.