George F. Root’s Normal Musical Institute, 1853–1885

Document Type


Publication Title

Journal of Research in Music Education

Publication Date



historical research, music teacher education, Normal Institute, Lowell Mason, George F. Root


George F. Root, Lowell Mason, and William B. Bradbury opened the New York Normal Musical Institute in April of 1853 in New York City. Each term lasted about three months and provided the first long-term preparation program for singing-school masters, church choir directors, private instructors, and school music teachers in the United States. Students at the institute studied pedagogy, voice culture, music theory, and choral literature and had the opportunity to take private lessons with prominent musicians and teachers. The Normal Musical Institute relocated to North Reading, Massachusetts, in 1856 and, in 1860, began meeting in various cities throughout the country. In 1872, the school became the National Normal Musical Institute and continued under this name until its final season in Elmira, New York, in 1885. This study was designed to examine the history of this institution in relation to its origin, details of operation, pedagogy and curriculum, prominent students and faculty, and influence on music education. Data included articles from music periodicals and newspapers, pamphlets and catalogs from the institution, biographies of prominent participants, and other primary and secondary sources.


This article was published in Journal of Research in Music Education, volume 60, issue 3, 267-293,