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Singing From the Same Song Sheet: Patriotism in the 1917 Classroom

Paul D. Turner
Massey University

https://dx.doi.org/10.32912/bulletin/21/5

Abstract

This article reviews how singing came to be used as part of the school experience in 1917 to foster a sense of patriotism, and to support New Zealand’s commitment to the First World War. To start, key curriculum initiatives that embedded singing in schools as part of the compulsory curriculum prior to the First World War are outlined. The main barrier to effective singing in schools was always the level of competence that teachers had in facilitating this activity. As the First World War progressed patriotic songs were made available for school use. Examples of this repertoire illustrate how the songs became more sophisticated and overtly patriotic. Political forces shaping the school experience such as the influence of the National Efficiency Board in encouraging displays of patriotism, particularly flag saluting ceremonies, are also highlighted.

As part of the increasing custom of patriotic displays, singing became an integral element, particularly the two national anthems of New Zealand: ‘God Save the King’; and ‘God Defend New Zealand’. The First World War provoked a wave of new compositions, both songs and instrumental works. There was a well-organised Society for the Encouragement of New Zealand Music and one of the aims of this organisation was to support the official introduction into public schools of songs composed by New Zealanders. There was increased patriotic zeal following the end of the First World War, but the incorporation of songs inspired by the war no longer had the same currency and they began to fall away from the repertoire.

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  • This article reviews how singing came to be used as part of the school experience in 1917 to foster a sense of patriotism, and to support New Zealand’s commitment to the First World War. To start, key curriculum initiatives that embedded singing in schools as part of the compulsory curriculum prior to the First World War are outlined. The main barrier to effective singing in schools was always the level of competence that teachers had in facilitating this activity. As the First World War progressed patriotic songs were made available for school use. Examples of this repertoire illustrate how the songs became more sophisticated and overtly patriotic. Political forces shaping the school experience such as the influence of the National Efficiency Board in encouraging displays of patriotism, particularly flag saluting ceremonies, are also highlighted. As part of the increasing custom of patriotic displays, singing became an integral element, particularly the two national anthems of New Zealand: ‘God Save the King’; and ‘God Defend New Zealand’. The First World War provoked a wave of new compositions, both songs and instrumental works. There was a well-organised Society for the Encouragement of New Zealand Music and one of the aims of this organisation was to support the official introduction into public schools of songs composed by New Zealanders. There was increased patriotic zeal following the end of the First World War, but the incorporation of songs inspired by the war no longer had the same currency and they began to fall away from the repertoire.
  • Singing From the Same Song Sheet: Patriotism in the 1917 Classroom
  • This article reviews how singing came to be used as part of the school experience in 1917 to foster a sense of patriotism, and to support New Zealand’s commitment to the First World War. To start, key curriculum initiatives that embedded singing in schools as part of the compulsory curriculum prior to the First World War are outlined. The main barrier to effective singing in schools was always the level of competence that teachers had in facilitating this activity. As the First World War progressed patriotic songs were made available for school use. Examples of this repertoire illustrate how the songs became more sophisticated and overtly patriotic. Political forces shaping the school experience such as the influence of the National Efficiency Board in encouraging displays of patriotism, particularly flag saluting ceremonies, are also highlighted. As part of the increasing custom of patriotic displays, singing became an integral element, particularly the two national anthems of New Zealand: ‘God Save the King’; and ‘God Defend New Zealand’. The First World War provoked a wave of new compositions, both songs and instrumental works. There was a well-organised Society for the Encouragement of New Zealand Music and one of the aims of this organisation was to support the official introduction into public schools of songs composed by New Zealanders. There was increased patriotic zeal following the end of the First World War, but the incorporation of songs inspired by the war no longer had the same currency and they began to fall away from the repertoire.
  • Last updated on: 19 Jan 2021 | File Size: 1.6 MB

Citation

Turner, Paul. 2020. Singing from the same song sheet: patriotism in the 1917 classroom. Bulletin of the Auckland Museum. 21: 27–32. https://dx.doi.org/10.32912/bulletin/21/5

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