As a primary-age student in 1944-50 at Christ King grade school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I learned music from the Ward Method taught skillfully by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. The solfege was internalized and never left me even through decades of neglect. Reflecting on this powerful experience in my life led me to the desire to research just what this Ward Method was, who was its author, and what was its history.
The journey has been exhilarating. I have talked with retired teachers of the Ward Method who unanimously feel that those were the “glory years of school music.” Indeed, the students were so musically empowered that they ended up being the conductors of their own choirs and the teacher could rest in the observation of a job well done.
There is much in the Ward Method, even in its latest revision of 1981, that would make usage in the public schools of today impractical if not impossible. But the underlying educational philosophy is substantial. Anyone interested in the musical development of the child might benefit from understanding how Justine Ward went about accomplishing this in the Catholic schools