Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » The Young Man and His Vocation (1925-26): Lesson 12: Art, Music, the Stage

The Young Man and His Vocation (1925-26): Lesson 12: Art, Music, the Stage

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 13, 2011

For background and links to chapters in this series, see here



There are quite a number of occupations, more or less inter-related, which have for their motive the entertainment of the public. These are closely related to art in some of its forms. Success in these activities depends on the degree of proficiency attained by the individual. In painting, the dauber in the show window may splash out pictures – one very fifteen minutes – which may be given as premiums with each dollar purchase. On the other hand the master may work for months or even years on one piece, but when he finishes he has a real work of art which may sell for many thousands of dollars. In music, we find everything from the jazz orchestra player, who may earn two or three dollars an evening, to the great soloist who may secure as much as $25,000 from a single concert. Those who call themselves actors may earn from twenty-five dollars to thousands of dollars a week. It is very difficult therefore to place all of these professional entertainers in one vocational group, so different are they in their accomplishments.

Importance of Art

Art enters intimately into every phase of life and should be a part of every vocation. In its professional aspects, it is usually divided into two classes: first, the fine arts, such as painting, drawing, architecture, sculpture, music, engraving, and poetry; and second, the useful arts, such as the operative and mechanical arts, industrial arts, agriculture, transportation, etc.

“Its domain,” says W.H. Williams, “embraces the whole range of man’s activities and industries. The realm of art contains the finest products of man’s skill, the best achievement of his hands, the highest offering of his intellect. All things, brought to a state of perfection by human labor, have reached that condition because of persistent effort in some one of the divisions of Art.

“A work of art is an expression of the worker’s thoughts. It is a copy made from the worker’s ideas. It is the result of the inspiration of his genius. The material wrought upon simply received the impression of the mental picture in the soul of the artist.

“Works of art which have been made by a master’s hand have great power in them. They appeal to one’s ideas of grace, harmony, and beauty; they arouse the finer senses of the beautiful; they create feelings of delight because of the perfection of their execution, and the truthful expression of the thought for which they stand as representation.”

Consider the refining influence on the town of Springville of such men as Cyrus Dallin and John Hafen. This spirit has carried over in the wonderful collection of paintings which is being made by the High School. This collection is in turn having its cultural effect on all the people of Springville, as well as on thousands of visitors each year.

Personal Qualities and Preparation

The worker in art, probably more than in any other field, must have a temperament suited to the work. Most any one may learn to draw or paint in some fashion, if he spends enough time; but one with natural ability will acquire skill in a fraction of the time necessary for one without talents int his direction. In addition to an artistic temperament, the prospective artist should have a love for the work amounting almost to a passion. Beauty of form and color should appeal strongly to him. He should have a vivid imagination and sufficient technical skill to carry out his ideas. Ability to work hard and willingness to sacrifice are necessary for success.

The preparation for work in art depends a great deal on the branch that is to be followed. A general education, including at least as much as the high school, is the first requisite. This should be followed by a number of years of study at an art school or in an art center. Becoming an artist is not a question of learning facts, but of developing ability to judge and to execute. Eminence cannot be attained in a short time; long years of persistent application are necessary in acquiring skill.

Opportunities in Art

The close relationship between art and the industries makes it possible for those who are prepared to do certain types of art work to find remunerative employment. some who are interested in art for art’s sake feel themselves above doing anything that flavors of the commercial. They will paint to express an idea of their imagination, but will not consent to illustrate a catalogue.

There are very good opportunities in the industries for designers as well as illustrators; both of these fields pay well for those who are competent. There has developed during the past few years considerable demand for teachers of art in the schools,. These usually receive higher wages than are paid to the teachers of ordinary subjects.

In the field of pure art, success comes but slowly. A person must be classed almost as a master before he receives great recognition. It is usually necessary for those who wish to follow art to spend considerable of their time doing work that pays; this does not leave them the time needed for the most rapid progress in pure art.


Is probably the most universal method of expression. The savage in the wilderness has musical instruments, and he has learned to use his voice to express his emotions in song. Every grade of society up to the most cultured and learned has its music. People, practically without exception, enjoy hearing music even though they do not have ability to produce it themselves.

Music as a vocation must be confined to comparatively a few, although quite a number spend part of their time in this field. For example, a store clerk may play in a theatre orchestra during evenings, or a school teacher may give music lessons on Saturdays.

There is a constant demand for proficient music teachers, since the subject requires so much individual instruction. The compensation is usually good for those having ability. To make the greatest financial success in music, as in anything else, business ability is necessary many new ways of getting employment, such as making phonograph records and performing over the radio, are developing.

The refinement and real culture accompanying the rendering and hearing of good music makes it a desirable feature of every home. All should learn to appreciate music and should know something about it, although but few care to make it a life’s vocation.

Music is a jealous mistress; she demands the entire attention of those who would succeed by her charms. One famous musician said: “If I neglect to practice one day I know it; if I neglect it two or three days, everyone knows it.” The great singers of the world have to deny themselves all kinds of pleasures in order to keep themselves in proper condition. They must be very careful of their diet and must avoid excesses of every kind.

A good voice is not the only requirement of a great singer. A good head and ability to do almost an endless amount of hard work, amounting often to drudgery must accompany the musical talent.

Actors as a rule do not receive high wages although a few who have attained eminence receive very high salaries. The stage often appeals to young people because of the opportunity for travel, and because they can be almost constantly brought before the public. The fact that there is no chance for home life makes it very unattractive to many people who are more mature.

Acting is one of the oldest of the arts, and at times in the world’s history, it has been held in high repute as a profession. It affords wonderful opportunity for the expression of human nature and it may e used as a source of great uplift to mankind.


1. Give the best definition you can of art.
2. Discuss the relation of art to farming, to manufacturing, and to other vocations.
3. Discuss the development of art in some of the older nations.
4. Name as many Utah artists as you know.
5. What are some of the qualities necessary to become an artist?
6. What are some of the commercial opportunities in art?
7. Name a number of the greatest art galleries in America.
8. Why should everyone learn to appreciate music?
9. What radio stations can be heard in your vicinity?
10. Name the great actors you have seen perform.



  1. Some of those questions…wow. I can only imagine deafening silence and blank stares from my ward’s young men if they were asked to “Discuss the development of art in some of the older nations.” For that matter, I could probably expect the same from my Elders Quorum.

    I just came across this series of posts. I look forward to catching up. Thanks for posting these interesting bits of history.

    Comment by Andrew — September 13, 2011 @ 10:10 am

  2. Welcome to Keepa, Andrew. I would have trouble leading or taking part in that discussion, too — but if I were a young man considering art as a career, I think it would be helpful to help me discover whether I really did have an interest and ability, enough to sustain a career. If those questions bored me, or I didn’t have any idea what they meant, maybe it would be a cue that my real talent and interest didn’t lie in fine art, but perhaps in advertising, or drafting, or some other field. On the other hand, if someone in the class responded with real passion and enthusiasm, he might be on the right track!

    Anyway, I liked these lessons both for the quaint flavor of some of them, and for their evidence that the YMMIA was serious about helping the young men get launched into the right kind of life.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 13, 2011 @ 10:57 am

  3. It certainly would be helpful for those considering art as a career. When I posted my previous comment I was probably thinking more about how my friends and I would have reacted to such a lesson when we were young men. We were not the paragons of ambition, at least not realistic ambition. Give us a lesson on becoming a professional athlete and we probably would have ate it up, unwaveringly certain of our phenomenal athletic abilities (the numerous losses sustained by our ward basketball team notwithstanding). I should probably give my ward’s current young men (and Elders) the benefit of the doubt instead of projecting my youthful silliness onto them. :)

    Comment by Andrew — September 13, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.
TrackBack URI