Alexander, Birdie (1870–1960)


By: Lelle Swann

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: October 15, 2020


Birdie Alexander, music teacher, was born in Lincoln County, Tennessee, on March 24, 1870. She was the daughter of George Washington and Mary Jane (Shores) Alexander. The family moved to Texas where she was educated in Forney and at Mary Nash College in Sherman. She then attended Ward Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee, where she majored in piano and voice, and graduated with honors in 1891.

After her family moved to Dallas she began teaching in the public schools where she became supervisor of music in 1900. In Dallas she is credited with having laid the foundation for the system of music education in the public schools. She established the teaching of singing in all grades and was the first to form citywide choral groups for public performance. Under her direction the first operetta was performed at Turner Hall on May 24 and 25, 1901, to raise funds for the children's department of the Dallas Public Library. She produced and directed the music festival in May 1912 at the coliseum and the first cantatas given by the schools. In 1910 she organized the Dallas High School Orchestra which continued to function with annual concerts. In the same year she inaugurated music appreciation lessons in the schools with the purchase of the first record player and recordings with funds subscribed by interested citizens. She instituted folk-dancing classes to teach rhythm in the lower grades.

Miss Alexander was a charter member of the first board of directors of the Music Supervisors' National Conference, and as chairman of the MSNC was responsible for the formation of the music department of the Texas State Teachers Association. In the summers of 1908, 1909, and 1910 she organized and taught courses in music education at the University of Texas. She also taught on the summer faculty at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. In 1912 she edited Songs We Like to Sing. Because of her health she moved to El Paso in 1913, and there until her death she taught piano and was a leader in musical activities. In 1941 the Texas Music Teachers' Association made her a life member "in recognition of her distinguished contribution to American music." She died in El Paso on August 2, 1960.

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Dallas Morning News, May 16, 1966.

Categories:
  • Education
  • Educators
  • Music and Drama
  • Music
  • Women
Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era
  • Great Depression
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • World War II
Places:
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas
  • North Texas
  • Southwest Texas
  • El Paso

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Lelle Swann, “Alexander, Birdie,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 08, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/alexander-birdie.

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1976
October 15, 2020

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