Instrumental music education was in its infancy during the first decades of the twentieth century. Hale A. VanderCook and Hubert E. Nutt founded the VanderCook College of Music, pioneering a curriculum and instructional methods for preparing the music teacher. VanderCook articulated the approach in monographs on musical expression and teaching the high school band, correspondence courses in cornet performance and conducting, and annotated musical compositions. His pupil, colleague and, eventually, "adopted son" Hubert E. Nutt (nicknamed "H.E.") amplified upon the method and was responsible for weaving the approach into a four-year college curriculum in undergraduate music teacher education, and a four-summer graduate curriculum that was taught at the VanderCook College of Music for much of the twentieth century.
H.E. Nutt was also very active with band camps and clinics throughout the United States, for which he created over 100 unpublished worksheet-type presentations ranging from one to several pages in length. The variety of topics in these worksheets includes in-depth coverage of conducting technique with a systematic approach for developing conducting mastery; extension of VanderCook's ideas on musical expression; principles for organization and classroom discipline; a process for vocal development; a process for string development; diagnostic tests to be used with the various instruments; a published set of articles dealing with high school student leadership; theory and arranging worksheets; music library organization; philosophical "thought questions" pertaining to a myriad of issues in music education; and discussions on various components of musical basics such as a "half-truth" series; musical values; a system of understanding musical scales; chordal exercises; fundamental ideas for mastering musical instruments. His work even includes a detailed system on baton twirling and dance band style drumming.
Of particular note is H.E.'s work in conducting. Known for the outstanding quality of his own ability to work with ensembles, he was dedicated to the process of teaching others to be conductors. Like VanderCook, Nutt provided a precise task analysis of the process of conducting, what he called "semiotics," the language and science of gestures. This included detailed instructions on the function of the director, how the director achieves results, meaning of motions, holding the baton, details of starting positions, and motions through various patterns, style and its relationship to pattern, volume, left hand work, starting notes, holds, cues, phrasings, metronome markings, facial expression, body posture, subdivided beats, score study, and stage routine and appearance. The denseness of his worksheets sometimes suggests a crib sheet for study - and in many respects that is what they were - concise, thorough, capturing the essential elements of a complex task in a simple yet thorough and relatively uncomplicated manner.
H.E.'s original worksheets, notebooks, and other papers now reside in the H.E. Nutt Archives at VanderCook College of Music.
- Adapted from "The H.A. VanderCook - H.E. Nutt Collaboration: Seventy - Five Years of Partnership in Music Teacher Education" by Roseanne K. Rosenthal, Presented at the 13th National Symposium for Research in Music Behavior, Montreal, Quebec, April 1999