Tomlins, William Laurence



One of the greatest cultivators of children's voices in America today. Was born in London, England. He was a very delicate child and his education, begun in the public schools, had to be interrupted on account of his health. When he was nine he entered a church choir and some time after entered the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied harmony with Dr. Macfarren. He became church organist at sixteen, and when only seventeen directed a performance of Handel's Messiah with full orchestra, chorus and soloists. He was on the board of managers of the London Tonic Sol-fa College when he was only twentytwo. He came to America in 1870 and for five years lived in New York, then came to Chicago, where he was director of the Apollo Club until 1898, and during his leadership of this body enlarged the club from a male chorus of about sixty voices to a thoroughly efficient mixed chorus of about four hundred. Under his constant direction this organization developed and enlarged until it is considered one of the most efficient musical organizations of its kind in America. About 1883, Mr. Tomlins began his work with the children of Chicago, whom he trained in classes that met once a week. Deeply interested in true education, Mr. Tomlins set about training them in chorus work by organizing first one class, then many classes at the settlements. In these he not only taught the children to sing with accuracy and expression, but he also awakened inthem higher ideals and an enlarged outlook on life. He led the great children's choruses at the Columbian Exposition in 1893, and has since been engaged in training school children and public school teachers. From 1898 to 1902 he gave lecture lessons throughout the United States, and in 1903 he organized the National Training School for School Music Teachers. During the year 1903 and 1904 the Chicago Board of Education appointed him instructor of eight hundred grade teachers in the city public schools. His success has been due to his love of the work and of the children and to his earnest and winning personality. Mr. Tomlins is an efficient chorus leader and for years has trained the May Festival choruses. From 1887 to 1888 he led the Arion Musical Club of Milwaukee, which he also had charge of for a time after the Columbian Exposition.