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MENC: The National Association for Music Education

What about Astrology?

Author(s): Paul R. Farnsworth
Source: Music Educators Journal, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Sep., 1939), pp. 43-44
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. on behalf of MENC: The National Association for
Music Education
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All use subject to
that of
of the
Shakespearean songs,
I have
I have
in mind
in mind
a program
a program
of as fascinating as we do, and it certainly is valuable as a means
folk ballads of England and Scotland. There is no limit, in- of vitalizing the study not only for the purpose of unification of
deed, to the possibilities of this correlative procedure. the curriculum in a "curriculum-minded" period of educational
I have no idea whether this kind of correlation of vocal and investigation but also for the possibilities it offers for so many
literary study in the high school music departments haskinds beenof self-expression for the young persons enrolled in our
tried to any extent elsewhere, but I believe others would find it

Leland Stanford University, Palo Alto, California

DURING the past few years modern science has births.2

has been
been Our
was to
to ascertain
how significantly
how significantly
the musi- the musi-
carefully checking the claims of the palmists, cians'
palmists, the
the birthdays
phrenolo- differed
from those
from of those
New Yorkers
and New Yorker
gists and the physiognomists. And, while there and
there isand
is from
from a chance
a chance
occasionally distribution.
To be especially
To be noted
was thenoted was the
found a devotee who "hits the nail on the head" far more often concentration or absence of concentration of births under that
than chance would allow, it has been noted that he (or should we sign claimed by astrologers to be associated with musicianship.
say she?) achieves success by means other than those furnishedEach figure in the table labelled "Expectancies" indicates that
by the particular cult in question. Devious and numerous, indeed, as great a difference in this direction would occur this number
are the tricks at the disposal of the intelligent quack. of times in one hundred as a chance fluctuation from zero. The
But what about the astrologer with his horoscope and his x's indicate that in these particular comparisons the values were
claims that one is naturally musical if born under a proper sign identical. Each heading refers to the comparisons between the
of the zodiac? Little or nothing, it must be admitted, has been percentages in Key's or Grove's, and either those to be expected
done by the scientist to prove or disprove such a contention. Thisby chance or the percentages actually appearing in the Viennese
is surprising, as techniques are readily available for such a task.or New York City distributions. The minus sign (-) indicates
that the percentage appearing in Key's (or Grove's) book is
Indeed, the interest currently aroused by that sister pseudoscience,
smaller than that of the other distribution (chance, Viennese or
mind reading, is now spilling over into other rather esoteric fields
in such cascades that the time might well be considered ripe for New York).
a test of the astrologer's claims-at least as they refer to music. To satisfy most statisticians that a difference is significant and
Unfortunately, books on astrology are none too clearly written. not a chance affair, the expectancy should be in the region of
The authors do not come out squarely in saying just which is 0.1 or less. An examination of the three Key's columns indicates
the most "musical" sign and which the least "musical." Yet they that none of the figures is significant. In fact, all of the differ-
do agree fairly well in classifying Libra as the sign under which ences for the sign of Libra are in the "wrong" direction-i.e., a
prospective musicians are most apt to be born. Our task, then, smaller percentage of musicians was born here than is found in
would seem to be chiefly that of comparing in various ways the the chance or city distributions. It is true that in the Grove
birthdays of the musically great with those of more ordinary mortals. data there are two differences sufficiently large to be of interest
In this study, names of musicians were selected from two (both G.-Ch.). Yet these occur under the signs Aquarius and
sources. One thousand, four hundred and ninety-eight were Pisces for which the astrologers have made little musical claim!
chosen from Pierre Key's Musical Who's Who. This number
included all the names to be found there with the exception of
those of patrons and others whose musicianship might reasonably
be questioned. As the Key's names were all of recent origin and Sign Date Key's Grove's Chance Viennese N.Y.C.
had not withstood the test of time, the study was repeated on
Aries......... Mar. 21 to Apr. 19 9.2 9.6 8.2 9.0 8.3
3,257 names taken from Grove's Dictionary. Both sets were Taurus....... Apr. 20 to May 208.2 7.7 8.5 8.9 8.1
Gemini ....... May 21 to June 21 7.9 8.2 8.8 8.9 8.5
sorted according to the birthdays into piles labelled for the twelveCancer ....... June 22 to July 22 8.6 7.5 8.5 8.8 8.5

signs of the zodiac. (The writers on astrology do not agree Leo .......... July 23 to Aug. 22 8.1 7.5
Virgo........ Aug. 23 to Sept. 238.3
among themselves on the exact durations of the several signs. Libra ........ Sept. 24 to Oct. 23 7.2 7.7 8.2 7.7 8.1
Scorpio....... Oct. 24 to Nov. 22 7.2 7.9 8.2 7.4 8.0
The variations are slight, however-a day or so at the most. Sagittarius... Nov. 23 to Dec. 21 8.1 8.2 7.9 7.5 8.1
Capricorn .... Dec. 22 to Jan. 20 9.9 8.9 8.2 7.8 8.5
The durations employed here appear to be accepted by a number Jan. 21 to Feb. 19 9.0 9.8 8.2 8.9 8.5
Aquarius .....
of astrologers and would seem to be as logical as any offered Pisces ........ Feb. 20 to Mar. 20 8.3 9.8 7.9 9.3 8.6

in the literature.)
This table is to be read as follows: 9.2 per cent of the musicians
There are several procedures we might conceivably follow. Itmentioned in Pierre Key's and 9.6 per cent of those in Grove's Dic-
would be possible, for example, to find the percentage of births were born under the sign of Aries. By chance alone 8.2 per
cent should have been born then. 9.0 per cent of the Viennese and
to be expected by chance under each of the signs and to compare
8.3 per cent of the New Yorkers were born under the same sign, etc.
these expectancies with the actual distributions of musicians'
birthdays. Or we might take population figures as the basis for EXPECTANCIES

comparisons. Unfortunately, these latter are difficult to obtain.

Key - Key - Key - G. - G. - G. -
In fact, population figures for the birth years covered by the Sign Ch. V. N.Y.C. Ch. V. N.Y.C.
names in the Pierre Key and Grove volumes do not exist. We, Aries .... ........ 8 38 10 0.2 12 0.5
therefore, have been forced to take more recent birth figures. Taurus........... -35 -16 46 - 6 - 0.8 -21
Gemini.......... -10 -8 -18 -12 -8 -27
There is no reason to suppose, however, that the relative distribu-Cancer........... 46 -38 46 -2 - 0 5 - 2
Leo.............. -27 46 -35 - 2 -16 - 4
tion of births over the parts of the year is very different now Virgo ............. -24 18 x -0.3 -27 - 4
Libra ............ -8 -24 -10 -16 x -21
from what it was many years ago. Be that as it may, we Scorpio........... - 8 -38 -14 -27 16 -42
contented ourselves with three sets of figures-the chance per- Sagittarius....... 38 18 x 27 8 42
Capricorn........ 2 0.5 4 8 1.4 21
centages of births, Viennese birth figures1 for the years 1925
Aquarius......... 14 46 24 0.05 4 0.5
Pisces............ 27 -8 -35 0.01 16 0.8
through 1934, and records of over three million New York City
1 Obtained from the Annual Epidemicological Reports of the League 2 Obtained from an article by R. Pintner and J. B. Mailer in the
of Nations. Journal of Genetic Psychology, volume 50, 1937, pp. 91-107.

September, Nineteen Thirty-nine Page 43

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All use subject to
All these
these figures,
notion the the With
thatthat With the theGrove's
Grove's Dictionary
the the
for Libra
for Libra
is is
astrological claims
facts. eight
eight andanda ahalf.
When thethe
correctionfor for
of sizeofofsize of
There isis yet
yet another
procedureby by zodiacal
undertaken, Libra
to seven
to seven
and aand
halfaorhalf or
which to show the accuracy of the astrological claims. There still
still slightly
below chance!
are twelve signs of the zodiac. If Libra is the most "musical" The The fatalistic
manmanis what
is what
he ishebecause
is because
of the
the magic
sign, then the birth percentage should be greatest here. But isquality of his birthday, that a musician is naturally musical
it? If we rank the order of the percentages by signs we find because he first started to breathe when the celestial bodies were
that for the Key's data Libra stands eleven and a half. A slight propitiously arranged for musicality to appear, does not receive
error is present here as the signs are not of equal duration in the slightest support from this study. But with human nature
terms of days. When they are corrected for this error we find what it is, many will continue to consult the astrologer. Yet is
Libra still at eleven and a half. Were it a chance matter it it too much to hope that the person who is thinking of the
should be at six and a half. We can only conclude from these possibility of musical study will visit the quack with his eyes
data that the astrologers played into extremely bad luck when open and that he will go to him primarily to obtain a hearty
they chose Libra. laugh and not vocational advice?

Apprecaton in in
High School
Harrison Park Junior High School, Grand Rapids, Michigan

may be
be defined
defined as
as that
that force
force in we must include
in music
music include work
work for
for all
all types
types of
of children,
education which seeks to arouse in the child a love of illiterate as
as well
well as
as the
the student
student with
with considerable
music, and to make that love deeper and wider.1 ground; likewise
likewise that
that the
the interests
interests ofof adolescents
It is our objective in the music appreciation work in the gen-
eral music classes in junior high school, to give the child such
A wide range of subjects should be covered in an endeavor to
musical experience as will function in life's situations and to all
reach pro-classes. The subject may be approached from the view-
vide him with as rich a cultural environment as is possible. pointHe
of repertoire, not chronologically presented, using a greatly
should develop an admiration for good music and the ability diversifiedto study of periods, styles and grades of music; or there
discriminate, in order to point the way to a life of greater joy having program interest; and some instructors
may be music
and beauty through the love of music. may wish to use the project method. Whatever the method, the
Music appreciation in the schools is still in the experimental final aim remains the same: to increase the putting-in process
stage. No definite conclusion has been reached as to justuntil what the child has an understanding love for, and knowledge of,
does fall within the scope of that term, or what methods or familiar
mate-and worth while music. In some circumstances it may
rials should be used. However, it is logical to suggest that the be desirable to have all the classes, irrespective of grade, follow-
appeal involved must be as varied as possible and that the ing the same general topic organization, then the following
repertoire should include much really great music. For thesemester change to something new and interesting. No topic
junior high school "selections should be chosen with the pleasure
should be dwelt upon until all spontaneity is lost. In other situa-
end in view, but never losing sight of the fact that intellectual,
tions one aspect of music appreciation work may be chosen and
aesthetic and emotional factors enter into enjoyment and appre-
carried through a semester. There is no need for a definite topic
for each grade each semester unless it fits into some school
ciation more lastingly than the purely recreational ones. Definite
focus of attention and interest is as strict a requirement in the
music appreciation lesson as in that of any other well taught The appreciation lesson should be something far more than a
subject."2 mere passive experience. It should be a process of noticing and
Among the methods which have been suggested by educators selecting. Children should be encouraged to take an active part
is that of correlation and integration. These approaches have and feel free to voice their likes frankly and freely. We must
made considerable progress in the general educational program not destroy their individual response, but build upon it and cor-
because they have real value when used in a manner to strengthenrect it. "Adolescent boys and girls do not respond to academic
the appreciation and understanding of music. Correlations shouldinstruction that calls for elaborate analysis of compositions or
not be forced. There naturally exists a close relationship be- much attention to facts upon music."' Any facts that are offered
tween music and other arts, history, geography, and life in gen-
should be presented from the viewpoint of a better appreciation
eral; all of which contribute towarding "making music a normalrather than from that of pure information.
part of sane and beautiful living,"3 but care should be taken to "Whenever we present a new composition either for listening
protect music, an art experience which has something of value or performance, we do well to capitalize all the life-giving asso-
to give to the human race, from becoming the handmaiden of ciations naturally connected with it. This does not mean giving
other subjects of the curriculum. a great deal of information about it. But it does mean
In planning work for the junior high school, consideration showing that it rose out of a certain circumstance, that it is the
should again be given to the problem of the children being expression of a certain mood, and that works of art in other
shifted from one class to another at the beginning of the semester
fields-pictorial art and literature, for instance-have affinities
and often having no classification as to grade; to the fact that with it."5
1 Mursell, James L., and Glenn, Mabelle. The Psychology of Music Teaching Music appreciation cannot function as a thing apart from the
(New York: Silver Burdett Company, 1931), chap. V, p. 106.
2 Pitts, Lilla Belle. Music Integration in the Junior High School (Boston: 'Beattie, McConathy, and Morgan. Music in the Junior High School (Silver
C. C. Birchard & Co., 1935), p. 33. Burdett Company, 1930), p. 65.
3 Morgan, Russell. "Modern Trends in School Music" M.E.N.C. Tearbook, 6 Mursell, James L., and Glenn, Mabelle. The Psychology of Music Teaching
1937, p. 44. (New York: Silver Burdett Company, 1931), chap. V, p. 110.

Page 44 Music Educators Journal

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