The Music Program at Madison Lutheran School

Music was an important part of the educational program at Madison Lutheran.


In the Classrooms

Many hymns were memorized and became part of morning devotion. Some teachers did not play piano so classroom students or upper-class students were enlisted. When I was in Mrs. Franks's fourth grade class, Ruth Stolper would often play the hymns. In later grades, when class members who were taking piano lessons were skilled enough, they would play. In seventh grade Mr. Stolper would have us put the hymn numbers on the board in Roman numerals. I think the first hymn that many of us were able to play was 158 in the old blue hymnal (TLH), Glory Be To Jesus — CLVIII.

In first or second grade, Miss Gudren Madsen (later Moldstad) was our music teacher. I remember two of the songs that had hand motions with them!

Oh see my new shoes
Oh see my new shoes
They're made of fine leather
For all kinds of weather
Oh see my new shoes
Oh see my new shows
Oh you push the damper in
And you pull the damper out
And the smoke goes up the chimney just the same
Just the same
Just the same
And the smoke goes up the chimney just the same!


Other music opportunities emerged in Mrs. Frank's fourth grade. There was a weekly radio broadcast on the public radio station, WHA ("the oldest station in the nation"), that became our music class. Journeys in Music Land featuring Edgar B. Gordon was part of The Wisconsin School of the Air. We participated in the 1953-54 year program, on Wednesdays from 1:30-2:00, using the Children's Songbook which cost 25 cents, that contained the listed songs:

O God, Our Help in Ages Past
Sing Your Way Home (in two parts)
Swiss Hiking Song
Pray (From "Der Freischutz")
The Spanish Guitar
If With All Your Hearts
Santa Lucia (in two parts)
Joshua Fit De Battle
Twelve Days of Christmas
Silent Night
Here We Come A-Caroling
Deck the Halls
Comes the Spring Springtime
Away for Rio (in two parts)
Sweet and Low (in two parts)
My Heart Ever Faithful (with descant)
O Maeteli
The Gondoliers (in two parts)
Ho La!
Billie Magee Magaw
The Little Shepherdess
On, Wisconsin
The Hungry Frog (in two parts)
Summer Skies
The Big Corral (chorus in two parts)



Mr. Stolper came into our classroom and taught us how to play the Tonette. Andy Heinecke still had his "Certificate of Promotion" signed by Mr. Stolper.

"The Tonette debuted in 1938 and within a few months it had won the endorsement of America's leading music educators. Designed as a pre-band instrument, the Tonette was unbreakable, chromatic, and tunable. Originally priced at only $1.00, it created a new appreciation and enthusiasm for music that swept the country. The Tonette's pleasant flute-like tone immediately caught the imagination of leading radio and motion picture entertainers of the day, who used it for special novelty effects. By 1941 over half of the grammar schools in the United States had adopted the Tonette as standard equipment. The little Tonette even served in World War II where the armed services found it to be an entertaining way for idle troops to pass the time. Still used by many schools today, the Tonette has a long history of introducing whole families to the joys of music." (from, which is no longer a working URL).


The Madison Lutheran School Band

Fourth grade tonette was a prelude to 5th grade band, moving up to the MLS band from sixth to eighth grade. The band was directed by Mr. Lother Stolper. The band room was in the left front corner room on the second floor. The bigger instruments were kept in a closet and rented or loaned to students. Mr. Stolper taught private lessons. Two of us remember his asking if we wanted to change instruments (Gloria Blindheim to baritone saxaphone and Judy Maginnis to oboe). When Mr. Stolper left for Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1963, the school hired some University of Wisconsin students to give lessons and conduct the band. The MLS band experience prepared many students to continue playing their instruments when they moved on to the public high schools in Madison. Here are some band pictures:


The Madison Lutheran School Choir

There are many memories of the MLS choir. My earliest memory was from a Christmas service at the old Immanuel Lutheran Church on Jenifer Street before I was old enough to be in the choir, which was for students in grades 5-8. I listened to them, thought they sounded beautiful, and knew I wanted to be in choir when I was old enough.

The choir rehearsed twice a week in Mr. Stolper's classroom. Those not in choir went to a study hall in another classroom. Mr. Stolper arranged much of the choir music himself and ran copies off on a spirit duplicator. Choir arrangements were typically in three parts - first, second, and third voice. We sang for Sunday services in each of the seven Synodical Conference churches, for the school's Christmas service, for the joint Good Friday service in the Strand theater on the Capitol Square, for some funerals, and for the May night programs at Turner Hall.

Many former choir members went on to sing in church, high school, college, and community choirs, and recall their MLS choir days with fondness.

After Mr. Stolper left Madison, Mr. Fred Bartel, the last MLS principal, became the choir director. A recording of the MLS choir was made under Mr. Bartel using many arrangements by Arthur Stellhorn and Hugo Gehrke, who were teachers in Milwaukee. The record contained the following hymns, shared below with the permission of Mr. Bartel in mp3 files.

  • Comfort Comfort Ye My People (2:21)
  • Oh Come Oh Come Emanuel (1:57)
  • Come Hither Ye Children (2:49)
  • Let Us All With Gladsome Voice (1:12)
  • Jesus I Will Ponder Now (1:28)
  • Christ the Life of All the Living (1:35)
  • Out of the Depths (1:02)
  • Jesus Lamb of Calvary (1:38)
  • Glory Be to Jesus (1:23)
  • What God Ordains is Always Good, (4:02)
  • Lord Jesus Who Our Souls Do Save (1:29)
  • Almighty God Thy Word is Cast (1:36)
  • Abide With Me (1:53)
  • The Sun Arises Now (2:12)
  • I'll Think Upon Thy Mercy(2:07)
  • Jesus Thy Blood Blood and Righteousness (1:41)
  • Praise God From Whom All Blessing Flow (organ) (1:18)
  • Here are some choir pictures: