210 THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD
given by the teacher and the musical performances a long patient
course of the exercises which serve to give flexibility to the finger-
joints and to the tendons, to render automatic the co-ordination
of special muscular movements, and to strengthen by repeated use
of the organ the muscles of the hand.
The pianist will therefore have to make himself by his
own efforts, and will have succeeded in doing so in the pro-
portion in which his natural genius would induce him to
persist in his exercises. Nevertheless the pianist would never
have created himself by practice alone, without the guidance of the
One might say that the same thing happens in every branch
of education; a man's value depends not on what masters he has
had, but on what he has done.
One of the difficulties met with in teaching our method to
mistresses of the old style is that of hindering them from interfering
when the child is worried for a long time about some mistake and
is making repeated attempts to put it right. Then the old-time
mistresses are seized with pity, and nothing can prevent them from
coming to the child's assistance. When one prevents this inter-
ference, they speak pityingly of the small pupil; but very soon the
latter shows in his smiling countenance the joy of having overcome
Normal children repeat these exercises many times more or
less, according to the individual; some are tired of them after five
Ľor six times, but others go on for more than twenty times displacing
and rearranging the pieces without ever losing their keen expression
On one occasion, after I had counted sixteen exercises done by
a. little girl of four, I had a hymn sung to her in order to distract
her attention; but she continued, unperturbed, to displace, mix up
and replace the cylinders.
An intelligent mistress might carry on interesting studies in
individual psychology, and up to a certain point, measure the
times of resistance of the attention to different stimuli.