Sarah Anna Glover

1786–1867

An image of NRO, PD 499/4 Parish registers of St Mary in the Marsh, Norwich, showing the baptism of Sarah Glover. 18 November 1786

NRO, PD 499/4 Parish registers of St Mary in the Marsh, Norwich, showing the baptism of Sarah Glover. 18 November 1786

Sarah Ann Glover was baptised on 13 November 1786 in St Mary in the Marsh, Norwich the parish church for the Cathedral Close. Her father Edward was the incumbent of St Lawrence Church in Norwich.

She received music lessons from the organist of Norwich Cathedral at the age of six. Whilst running a Sunday school with her sister she began formulating her simplified notation system. By 1827, Glover had drawn up a complete method and was using it as part of her teaching in a girls’ school of her own founding in Black Boy Yard, Colegate Street, Norwich. Her pupils learned to sing learning by means of sol-fa notes pointed out on a chart, her ‘Norwich sol-fa ladder’.

In 1835 her system was published by Jarrold & Sons of Norwich.

Scheme for rendering psalmody congregational, comprising a key to the sol-fa notation of music, and directions for instructing a school.

In 1841 a copy of Glover’s Scheme was lent to John Curwen. He adopted, even modified, several of her devices as the basis of what became known as tonic sol-fa, but without seeking her permission.

She died of a stroke at Malvern on 20 October 1867 and was buried at Hereford, where she had retired only a few years earlier to live with her sister Christiana.

Sarah also invented the harmonicon, an instrument designed to help her teach her Sol-fa system. Four of these are held by the Norfolk Museums Service.

Find out more: You can see original documents about Sarah Anna Glover at the Norfolk Record Office here.

An image of NRO, PD 321/68 Wramplingham parish deposit, fragment of music in tonic sol-fa late 18th century.

NRO, PD 321/68 Wramplingham parish deposit, fragment of music in tonic sol-fa late 18th century.

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