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Why people went to early singing schools

Noted without comment:

The singing-school’s enormous popularity during the 18th century was obviously due to more than a great love for music or for learning. Here was a rare chance for approved social intercourse between boys and girls. No doubt the youngsters welcomed the break in routine provided by the chance to learn to read music, but they also used the singing-school as a place where they could make new friends, exchange notes, flirt, walk home together after lessons, and, in general, enjoy themselves. As an example of what went on, one might cite a letter, written in an unguarded moment, from a Yale undergraduate to his friend Simeon Baldwin (later a distinguished New Haven attorney) in 1782:

“…at present I have no Inclination for anything, for I am almost sick of the World & were it not for the Hopes of going to singing-meeting tonight & indulging myself a little in some of the carnal Delights of the Flesh, such as kissing, squeezing &c. &c. I should willingly leave it now, before 10 o’clock & exchange it for a better.”

It is easy to see that many marriages must have grown out of singing-meetings, and the old tune-books show plenty of handwritten evidence of incipient love-affairs of long ago.

from “The American Tradition of Church Song,” by Irving Lowens, in Music and Musicians in Early America (New York: Norton, 1964), pp. 282-283.