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A History of Kentucky and Kentuckians, The Leaders and Representative Men in Commerce, Industry and Modern Activities. By E. Polk Johnson, Volume III. Illustrated. Publishers: The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago-New York, 1912.
Alma Steedman [photo] has become widely known for her splendid work in the conduct of the Steedman Academy of Music and Fine Arts at Third and Burnett avenues, in Louisville. She is a native daughter of the city, her parents being Dr. William C. and Anna (Thum) Steedman. The former, a native of Bagdad, Shelby county, Kentucky, died when his daughter Alma was a maiden of fifteen summers. It was the paternal grandfather of Miss Steedman, plantation owner and slaveholder, who named the town of Bagdad after perusing “Arabian Nights’ Entertainments.” Miss Steedman inherited her talent for music from her mother’s people, among whom were musical artists of exceptional ability. Her great-grandfather, Carl Funke, who was a graduate of Heidelberg University, was a naturalist and a ‘cellist and taught natural science in the university at Dresden, Germany. He came to Louisville in 1848 and at the solicitation of General William Preston, founded one of the first private schools in Louisville and was also the first director of the singing society that later became the Liederkrans Society.
Alma Steedman attended the schools of Louisville in the acquirement of an education and at a very early age received instruction in music from J. William Reiling, who had been an intimate friend of her father and who had become very fond of her as a wee girl. Mrs. Hal Lloyd, of La Grange, was also among her early teachers. She studied music in Philadelphia for two years and subsequently enjoyed the advantage of instruction under such splendid teachers as Mrs. J. Edwin Whitney and Mrs. Williston Hough, of New York, both of whom were Leschetizky students. Miss Steedman likewise received musical instruction under Percy Aldridge Grainger, the noted composer, and did lecture work under Ernest Hutchinson and Henry Levey, the latter one of the exponents of Arthur Friedheim, the celebrated German pianist. As above stated, Miss Steedman is most successfully conducting the Steedman Academy of Music and Fine Arts in Louisville.
Miss Steedman’s most successful method of musical instruction is one which she developed and which is indeed unique. Instead of first teaching pupils the tedious scales, she at once puts them to work on the great classics, and everything that can be taught a child about music is brought out in these compositions. Later, with a thorough understanding of music, her pupils are trained in the scales, which then do not prove tiresome but rather an interesting stage of musical development. Miss Steedman’s originality of method has been criticized by musicians of the old school, but its effectiveness has been amply proven by the numerous prodigies among her pupils. She has been particularly successful in directing ensemble work and has instructed many interesting groups playing all sorts of instruments. A director of pronounced ability, Miss Steedman at all times manifests a spirit of enthusiasm that is contagious and that is expressed by students in excellent rendition of musical gems.