Frank Damrosch was a German-born American conductor, and director of the New York Institute of Musical Art. In this article, he bemoans the state of music education in America:
“Ninety-nine per cent of the music teachers in the United States are totally incompetent to teach music… Thousands of so-called music teachers are not in any way qualified to teach,” he continued, “because they have not been trained to teach, nor have they received even a rudimentary knowledge of music.”
“Many so-called music teachers have had only inferior instruction on the piano and have learned to play a few pieces after a fashion. Such persons start to teach for a livelihood on this slender foundation because it seems to them to be the easiest and pleasantest way to earn a living. The general ignorance of the public in matters musical makes it possible for such teacher to get employment…
“And this has a bad effect on society in general. It places society on a low plane of culture. It affects the music in the churches, and causes those who cater to the amusement of the public to provide an inferior class of music.”
Thirteen years later, the Institute of Musical Art became the Juilliard School of Music, still today one of the most prestigious performing arts conservatories.
MOST OF OUR MUSIC TEACHERS INCOMPETENT — FRANK DAMROSCH: Well Known Conductor Deplores the Condition of Musical Instruction in This Country and Tells Why It Is So Bad. (PDF)
From September 3, 1911