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Whitener Singing School, 1909

In February 1909, J. N. Hamby (mustachioed man at far right) held a singing school at the Madison County community of Whitener (near Hindsville). Singing school teachers such as Hamby traveled to rural communities and held singing school in the local school or church house. The fee to attend was usually the purchase of a songbook.

During a singing school, attendees learned to sing songs--mostly gospel songs--by ear, and also to read music using a system of geometric shapes representing notes on the scale. School was held over the course of a few weeks, typically on Saturday and Sunday. Singing schools offered a time for socializing as well as a time for "making a joyful noise," and were popular in the Ozarks from the mid-1800s into the 1930s.

Elsie Vaughan Collection (S-96-1-159)

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