The Universal Teacher, by J. E. Maddy and T. P. Giddings (1923)

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Journal of Research in Music Education

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music education history, instrumental music education, Joseph E. Maddy, Thaddeus P. Giddings, methods


The Universal Teacher for Orchestra and Band Instruments (UT), a class method by Joseph E. Maddy and Thaddeus P. Giddings published by the Conn Musical Instrument Company in 1923, was the subject of this study. Research questions focused on (1) details surrounding the writing and publishing of the UT; (2) philosophical, psychological, and pedagogical principles behind the method; (3) the influence of the UT on class teaching and subsequent books; and (4) implications of this research for modern practice. Maddy and Giddings wrote the UT from 1920 to 1922 while teaching summer methods courses together at Chautauqua, New York, and at the University of Southern California. The authors designed the book to appeal to children by applying the song method from elementary vocal music to instrumental instruction. This pedagogy differed from previous instrumental methods in that instructional material consisted entirely of melodies rather than scales and exercises. The UT also employed a detailed, systematic series of procedures intended to maximize the use of class time, hold students accountable for their progress, and allow independent learning with as little teacher intervention as possible.


This article was published in Journal of Research in Music Education,Volume 58, No. 4, pp. 384-410, January 2011,