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Eagle Regalia Co 298 Broadway New York (union bug) 1
Music Memory contests were held in elementary schools and high schools around the country. They began in a private home in New Jersey as a game to play with children in the 1910’s. This was introduced to the city’s supervisor of music which was then tried in local schools. It not only introduced young minds to classical music but also fostered cooperation between parents, teachers, churches, orchestras, choirs, newspapers, radio stations, and more to promote it. School clubs were formed to study for and win these competitions. By 1921, this had spread to over 500 cities around the United States. The general methods for carrying out the Music Memory contests were similar across the country, with content being selected in the fall for participants to learn and the number of pieces and thus difficulty of the contest increasing with each grade. The upper grades were responsible for knowing all content from each level. Each location was able to make their own selections of the content, which is where these contests varied.
Students studied some at school by listening to compositions and discussing composers. During the earlier years of the contest, radios would play the composer’s music as well, allowing students to study at home. At the end of the studying and listening period, students would be tested on random segments of the musical pieces, and students needed to know both the composer and song from that. High scorers from each school went to a city-wide competition followed by a statewide competition. 1932 competitors that were able to get every question correct were given buttons as a prize. While there are still some Music Memory Contests around today, it is not at the national level it was in the first half of the 1900’s and by the 1950’s funding for the contests became an issue.