Monday, 18 August 2008

Teilo Sant and Jack Dobbs

I learnt last week of the death of Jack Dobbs. I was blessed to know Jack when he began his retirement by studying for a doctorate on the history of the Religious Society of Friends at Mansfield College at the same time as I was training for the ministry. It was through Jack that I began to understand a little more of my own denomination's links with the Quaker tradition.
Jack worked with the Erik Routley on hymn tunes for Congregational Praise. As we students began to research Jack's work we would occasionally sing Thomas Binney's Eternal Light to the tune Jack had written for it called Teilo Sant - whenever I sing that hymn to other melodies it just doesn't feel the same. Jack also encouraged a hymn-writer amongst us and wrote music for his hymns.
Now reading the short obituary in the Guardian I realise that there was much, much more that I could have learnt from him. Sometimes education really is wasted on the young, I wish I had know then of his wide international involvement and commitment to music education. There are further obituaries here from the International Society for Music Education and from the Times.

"In 1956 Jack became director of the Malayan Teachers Training College, Wolverhampton - developing a lifelong connection with Malaysia and Malayan music. In 1960, he joined London University's Institute of Education, building his interest in Indian music and encouraging his students to look beyond the western classical tradition.

In 1967 he became director of music (and later deputy principal) at Dartington College of Arts, Devon. There he developed a music degree that focused on a practical understanding of Indian music and later the Indonesian gamelan - the first such course in the country. The course's sitar teacher was the great Imrat Khan, then on his first visit to the West.

Jack published many influential books on music in education (some with Roger Fiske) in the 1950s and 1960s, including a history of music written to accompany records made by Yehudi Menuhin, and The Slow Learner and Music (1966). In 1960 he chaired the newly formed British Society for Music Therapy, and that interest led to a pioneering music therapy programme at the Guildhall School of Music in 1967 and to his becoming a governor of the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Centre."

And here's the first verse of Eternal Light:

Eternal Light! eternal Light!
How pure that soul must be,
when, placed within thy searching sight,
it shrinks not, but with calm delight
can live, and look on thee.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

I also had the privilege to know Jack Dobbs as a student at Dartington in he early 1970s. He was a gentle, caring, reflective and inspiring man. I am sad to hear of his death, and of the circumstances of his wife Ruth's death. His memory will live on everywhere.
Trevor Jones