History Justine Bayard Ward (1879-1975), the foundress of the original School of Liturgical Music at The Catholic University of America in 1929, developed her method to teach American Catholic school children the fundamentals of music which would enable them to sing the vast patrimony of musica sacra which is a part of the Roman Catholic Church’s tradition.
Ward developed the Method in response to a request from Reverend Thomas Edward Shields, Chair of the Department of Education at The Catholic University of America in 1909. Shields believed that from the earliest years, the child’s emotions must be developed to lead to the formation of worthy character. Writing in his journal, Catholic Educational Review, he once said,
“The real foundations of character are not to be found in the intellect, but in the emotions and the will properly enlightened through the intellect, and it is through music and art that the imagination and the emotions may be reached and effectively developed.”
Throughout its history, the Catholic Church has promoted the arts. Knowing man to be composed of both body and spirit, the Church understands man’s need for sensible, tangible things to relate body and spirit. In the Ward Method children are exposed to truth and beauty through music so they will respond to emotional stimulus of a higher order.
Regarding her collaboration with Shields, Ward wrote, "Together - he for the pedagogy and I for the music - we prepared a practical method of music for children in Catholic schools. From the start, this method was directed toward Gregorian chant.”
In the development of her method Ward also relied on the work of Reverend John B. Young, S.J. Young was choirmaster at the College of St. Francis Xavier in New York City. He had been trained in bel canto techniques and the principles of the Galin-Paris-Chevé method of music education.
In 1921 Ward traveled to Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight to study with Dom André Mocquereau. Mocquereau was a cellist who had entered the monastery of Saint Pierre de Solesmes and was given the task of working with Dom Joseph Pothier in the restoration of the chant. He developed the Free Musical Rhythm Theory of chant, which became known as the Solesmes Method. After studying with Mocquereau, Ward revised the rhythmic portion of her method.
In the mid 1980s Dr. Theodore Marier, a student of Dom Joseph Gajard and Ward returned the Ward Method to The Catholic University of America as the Justine Bayard Ward Professor and faculty adviser of the doctoral program in liturgical music and founding Director of the International Center for Ward Method Studies.