The University of St. Thomas



September 2010 : Volume 8 : No. 1


With the office-cleaning binge that I’ve been undertaking for the past month, my goal has simply been to expunge my campus workspace from the clutter that academics seem to accumulate.  Along with dated and duplicate textbooks, obsolete files, and stacks of journals, I was pleased with myself recently for finally being able to dispense with fifteen-year-old doctoral dissertation notes, drafts, data and other papers.  I know that many of you know the feeling.    

Items that I have difficulty removing however, include early twentieth-century elementary music texts, mid-century instrumental method books, shape note books from the century before last, and publications by a few of my mentors. Included in this latter set, are the works of the late Dr. Edgar M. Turrentine, professor of music education and director of graduate studies in the School of Music at the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Turrentine, who passed away in 1990, followed a historical path in research, and was a music educator who decided it was okay to also be a scholar.  Amongst his numerous articles on brass development and pedagogy and important translations of historic documents, sitting on my shelf is his 1968 Wm. C. Brown publication, Introduction to Advanced Study in Music Education that he co-authored with Neal Glenn. I continue to refer my graduate students to this excellent book that combines discourses on music and other arts by various authors ranging from Plato to Jaques-Dalcroze, with instruction on research methodologies and techniques. After more than forty years since its publication, the book is still an excellent read, and a worthy study for today’s scholars.

Also within my Turrentine holdings is the article, “Historical Research in Music Education” (Bulletin of the Council of Research in Music Education, Summer 1973), which has aided countless music education historians over several decades, and continues to serve as an excellent guide to the literature. Additionally, through Bonnie Turrentine, I have copies of two unpublished drafts of “’Singing Schools’ in St. Anthony,” and “Music in the Early Schools of Minnesota,” both of which, judging by the paper and type, were written in the late 1960s shortly after the Turrentines moved to Minneapolis from Appleton, Wisconsin. According to a note left by Turrentine, these writings were the bases of “a series of Historical Vignettes presented by Dr. Turrentine who serves as Research Chairman for the MMEA.”  Both of these articles are testaments to Turrentine’s belief that new information, including elements of a geographic region, are best learned by getting to know the information’s past.

These written documents remind me that Dr. Turrentine’s scholarship led to strong teaching.  He had a keen ability to combine his knowledge of general and music history, music education pedagogy, research techniques and “real life” in each of his courses.  These last two elements were especially evident in his graduate bibliography course, taught before the advent of the Internet, and are among the chief memories held by several generations of his former students. Mike Hiatt, Director of Professional Development & Research at the Perpich Center for Arts Education in Minnesota recalls:

"This was an excellent class with a great deal of practical application to research.  Virtually the whole class was devoted to an ongoing scavenger hunt for research sources.  On the first class meeting, Dr. Turrentine handed out the final, which had 10 – 11 questions that we had to answer by gathering the appropriate research materials.  Every week's lecture gave us clues to answer the questions. You did not want to miss that class, believe me.  Ed had so much fun watching us stew over finding the source materials. I will not forget that class, ever!”

I agree with Mr. Hiatt, and join him in using these recollections to challenge my own teaching and research, and to encourage myself to engage my students in connecting the past with the present and future, and to connect research and scholarship with daily life. 

I invite our readers to recollect memories of their own mentors, and join me in dedicating this issue of RIME as a memorial to the life and work of Dr. Edgar M. Turrentine. 

Bruce Gleason, Editor

Bruce Gleason, Editor

Associate Professor, Graduate Programs in Music Education, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota

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