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Sarah Glover's life in music

PUBLISHED: 11:29 01 June 2011

Sarah Glover inventor of Norwich Sol-fa, a system of musical notation designed to improve the standard of singing and simplify the reading of music.

Sarah Glover inventor of Norwich Sol-fa, a system of musical notation designed to improve the standard of singing and simplify the reading of music.

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Norwich born Sarah Anna Glover (1786-1867) dedicated her life to music education.

She was a pioneer teacher who revolutionised class music teaching. She was the first to teach music in English schools using doh, re, me, fah, soh, lah and te – in fact Glover invented the last syllable to replace the European si.

Glover invented a musical shorthand notation that was easy to read, understand and publish. In 1835. she wrote a book, Scheme for Rendering Psalmody Congregational, that outlined her method and gave careful advice to teachers.

Glover distributed song sheets for children to collect for a small fee and she invented the harmonicon, a unique musical instrument for class music teaching. This instrument was a form of glass glockenspiel that could easily be used to play tunes in the days before there was a piano in every school.

Glover created a music notation that could be read by the blind and, with her sisters, ran a charity school above Black Boys’ Yard in Norwich.

Glover taught in a number of early Norwich schools, trained teachers, and prepared all the materials for class teaching. Her work was known by other English music educators and her innovative Norwich Sol-fa approach still underpins school singing today.

Dr Jane Southcott is a music educator and historian who has studied the life of Sarah Glover for many years.

Dr Southcott is a teacher educator and researcher at Monash University, Victoria, Australia. She supervises research students and undertakes research into school music and its history.

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