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Title: The Boy's Voice - A Book of Practical Information on The Training of Boys' - Voices For Church Choirs, &c.
Author: Curwen, John Spencer, 1847-1916
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: _CHORISTER BOYS_.

_Photographed by Mr George Hadley, Lincoln_.]




J. SPENCER CURWEN _Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music; President of
the Tonic Sol-fa College._

[Illustration: Decoration]




_Price Two Shillings and Sixpence._




The value of this little book, as the reader will soon discover, depends
less upon my own work than upon the large number of choirmasters whose
experience I have been fortunate enough, directly or indirectly, to lay
under contribution. The conditions of the choir-trainer's work vary, in
an endless way, according to his surroundings and opportunities. And it
is just when work becomes difficult that contrivances and hints are most
fruitfully evolved. Hence I have given in great detail the experiences
of many correspondents, and some of the most useful suggestions for
ordinary church choir work will be found to proceed from writers holding
no great appointment, but seeking quietly and unostentatiously to
produce good results from poor material.

In view of a second edition, I shall be pleased to receive letters from
readers who have further experiences to offer.

J. S. C.

_June_, 1891.


CHAPTER I.                                    PAGES
The Healthfulness of Singing                    1-5

Management of the Breath                        6-7

The Art of Managing Choir Boys                 8-11

Voice Training                                12-22

Information on Voice-Training, collected
by the Salisbury Diocesan Choral Association  23-26

Pronunciation in Singing                      27-28

Singing by Ear and by Note                    29-30

Flattening, and Singing out of Tune           31-39

On the Training of Boys' Voices               40-48

The Special Difficulties of Agricultural
Districts                                     49-58

Notes on the Practice of various Choirmasters
in Cathedrals, &c.                            59-68

Notes on the Practice of various Choirmasters
in Parish Churches                            69-74

Alto Boys                                     75-89

Schools for Choristers                        90-98

Concert Songs for Boys                       99-103

[Illustration: THE BOY'S VOICE.]



The boy's voice, though an immature organ of delicate structure, is
capable of much work, providing only that its mechanism be rightly used
and not forced. Some people are unnecessarily nervous about boys; as a
rule, under competent guidance, they will get nothing but good from
vocal work. A cathedral organist wrote to me the other day:--

"Our best solo boy, who has a splendid voice and who sings beautifully,
has been unwell, and the Dean and Chapter doctor (who has an idea that
every choir-boy should be as robust as a plough-boy) has just stated
that the boy is too feeble to remain in the choir. Notwithstanding my
remonstrances, the Dean and Chapter decided yesterday to uphold the
doctor. I tried his voice last week, and he sang with full, rich tone up
to the C above the stave, and that after he had been skating from 9 a.m.
to 5 p.m. I should have thought that a boy who could skate all day could
not be in such a 'feeble' state as represented by the medical man. Three
months ago a boy with a beautiful voice was sent away for the same
reason. So you see what uphill work it is for me."

It is to be hoped that fastidiousness of this sort is not common. The
_abuse_ of the voice may lead, of course, to serious results. In the
_New York Medical Record_ of March 21, 1885, p. 317, there is a case
recorded of the bursting of a blood vessel through too energetic
singing, but this is altogether abnormal, and beyond the scope of our
enquiry. The voice, properly used, will last as long as any other organ,
and it benefits by exercise. Mr. D. W. Rootham of Bristol, who now at
middle age has a strong constitution and a fine baritone voice, tells me
that as a boy at Cambridge he sang for seven years at five services
every Sunday. The thing seems incredible, and it is an extreme case,
though it shows what work the voice, properly managed, will do.

Singing, it should be remembered, promotes health. It does so indirectly
by causing cheerfulness, a genial flow of spirits, and the soothing of
the nerves. It does so directly by increasing the action of the lungs.
So far as these organs are concerned, singing is a more energetic form
of speech. As we sing we breathe deeply, bring more air into contact
with the lungs, and thus vitalise and purify the blood, giving stimulus
to the faculties of digestion and nutrition. A physiologist, in fact,
can trace the effects of singing from the lungs into the blood, from the
blood into the processes of nutrition, back again into the blood, into
the nerves, and finally into the brain, which of all organs is most
dependent upon healthful and well-oxygenated blood. Dr. Martin (organist
of St. Paul's Cathedral) has had many years' experience in training
choir-boys, and he tells me that he has never known a boy to injure his
voice, or lose it through singing. It is a question of method; if the
voice be used properly it will stand any amount of work. He has seen
boys disposed to consumption improve in health after joining the choir.
The medical man who declared that if there were more singing there would
be less coughing, expressed in a graphic way the healthful influence of
vocal practice. Parents and guardians need never hesitate to allow their
sons and charges to become choir-boys under proper choirmasters. They
may be sure that nothing but good can come of the exercise.

Two cautions only are needed. The first is, not to sing during a cold.
When a slight inflammation has attacked the larynx--that is, when a cold
has been taken--the vocal cords are thickened, and the act of
vocalisation causes them to rub together, which increases the
inflammation. If the cold is a bad one--that is, if the inflammation is
great--the singer will be compelled to rest, because the congestive
swelling of the vocal cords will be so great that they will be unable to
vibrate sufficiently to produce tone. But whether slight or great, the
cold demands rest. Otherwise permanent injury may be done to the voice.

The second caution relates to the preservation, not of the boy's voice,
but of the man's. There is no doubt that it is undesirable for a boy to
continue to sing after his voice has shown signs of "breaking." What are
the first signs of this change? Choirmasters notice that the middle
register becomes weak, without any diminution in the power and quality
of the upper notes, but that at the same time the thick register grows
stronger, and the boy can strike middle C with firmness. "The striking
of middle C," says Mr. G. Bernard Gilbert, "is usually sufficient to
decide the point." The tradition of teachers is in favour of rest at
this time, and a well-founded public impression counts for a good deal.
The fact is that during the time of change not only do the vocal cords
lengthen, but they are congested. An inflammatory action, like that
which takes place during a cold, is set up. Hence rest is desirable.
Nature herself also counsels rest because she reduces the musical value
of the voice at this time to a low ebb. It becomes husky and of
uncertain intonation. No doubt cases can be quoted of boys who have sung
on uninterruptedly and developed into good tenors or basses, but there
are cases equally strong in which the man's voice has completely failed
after such a course. Sir Morell Mackenzie is the only medical writer who
has advocated singing during change of voice, but not even his authority
can upset the weight of evidence on the other side.

Nevertheless, on the principle of "hear both sides" I quote the
following from a letter by Mr. E. H. Saxton, choirmaster of St. James's
church, at Buxton:--

"Upon the question of resting completely from singing during the period
of change of voice, I hold that one must be guided by the circumstances
of each individual case. I carefully watch each boy when I am expecting
the change to commence, and it usually shows itself by the upper thin
register giving way. If I cannot immediately spare the boy from the
treble part (and good leading boys are not plentiful), I caution him to
leave high notes alone, never to force them, and as soon as possible I
relegate him to the alto part, where he often remains useful to me for a
year or eighteen months. All the time he is singing the alto part I keep
watch over him, and forbid his singing as soon as there are indications
that the effort is in the slightest degree painful. Generally I find
this prohibition to be only necessary for notes above [Illustration:
middle f] Should a vacancy occur in the senior choir (if the boy shows
signs of his voice developing to either tenor or bass) I get him passed
from the junior to the senior choir, warning him, however, to be very
careful of his high notes, and never to force them. My general
experience leads me to the conclusion that it is a most arbitrary and
unnecessary rule to lay down that every boy should rest at this time. In
some cases it is necessary, no doubt, but my opinion is, after twenty
years' practical experience, that in a large number of cases it is
cruel, and about as much use with regard to the after-development of the
voice as it would be to prohibit speaking. Speaking practically--not
scientifically--I hold that the vocal organ is beneficially exercised
when singing is allowed in moderation, and within the restricted limits
which every choirmaster ought to know how to apply. I have experienced
boys who have never rested developing good voices, as well as those who
have rested. But I have no experience of boys who have never rested
developing bad voices, though I have of those who did rest. I have three
boys in one family in my mind now, one of whom had a good alto, the
other two good soprano voices. The alto and one soprano never rested,
and developed respectively a good tenor and bass. The other rested
(through removal to another town), and developed a very indifferent

In spite of this weighty and well-argued statement, my own opinion is
that the preponderance of evidence is in favour of rest. It is certainly
a new physiological doctrine for a short period of rest to injure or
prevent the development of any organ. In short, I cannot see how there
can be any disadvantage in a few months' rest, while from the other
point of view there can be no musical advantage in the use of an
unmusical instrument. As soon as the man's voice shows signs of
settlement its practice should gently begin.

[Illustration: Decoration]



Breathing in singing is a matter of the utmost importance. The breath is
the motive power, the primary force, to which the larynx and the
resonance chamber are but secondary. In speech we can manage with short
breathing and half-filled lungs, but in sustaining the sounds of song,
we need to breathe deeply, and to breathe in a right way. Manifestly the
act of breathing consists of two parts--(1) the drawing in, and (2) the
letting out of the breath. When we speak of modes of breathing, however,
we refer to the drawing in of the breath. There are three ways of doing
this. First, by lowering the diaphragm, and thus compelling the lungs to
enlarge and fill the vacant space created. Second, by extending the ribs
sideways, causing the lungs to expand laterally. Third, by drawing up
the collar-bone and shoulder blades, causing the upper part of the lungs
to expand. The third method is bad; the ideal breathing is a combination
of the first and second. Upon this athletes as well as singers are
agreed. This is the breathing which we practise unconsciously in sleep,
or in taking a long sniff at a flower. The musical results of bad
breathing are flattening and a hurrying of the time; hence the
importance of the matter. Practice may well begin with a few minutes
devoted to breathing exercises. Let the boys inhale a long breath
through the nose; hold it for a time, and then slowly exhale. Again let
them slowly inhale, hold, and exhale quickly, allowing the sides of the
chest to collapse. Again, let them, while holding the breath, press it
from the lower to the middle, and to the upper part of the chest, and
_vice versa_. During this exercise the body should be in the position of
"stand at ease." The spirometer, a useful but rather expensive little
instrument, measures accurately lung capacity. These breathing exercises
may be followed by practice in holding a single tone for a period just
short of exhaustion.

[Illustration: Decoration]



To some choirmasters the management of their boys is a perfectly easy
matter; to others it is a constant source of trouble. Everything depends
upon knack. Max O'Rell has some wise maxims on the subject which it may
be well to quote. "Face the boys," he says, "or you will be nowhere.
Always be lively. Never show your temper: to let the boys see that they
can ruffle you is to give them a victory. Allow no chatting. Never
over-praise clever boys; never snub dull ones. Never expect any thanks.
If a boy laughs at a mistake made by another boy, ask him for the answer
immediately, and he will be dumb. If you do not love boys, never become
a choir [school] master."

Discipline is preserved by giving the boys seats in the same relative
position at rehearsal and in church. There should be a double row of
desks in the practice room, provided with a shelf for books, just as in
the stalls. If the boys have to hold the books and music in their hands
they stoop, and the singing suffers. Each boy should have a copy of the
music, and it should bear his number, so that he is personally
responsible for its good keeping. Punctuality at rehearsal is important.
Let the choirmaster call for order at the exact time, and let the roll
be gone over at once. To be unpunctual, or not to register early
attendance, is to encourage laxity.

There is no doubt that the long services in many churches are trying to
the choir boys. In some churches the morning service lasts two hours and
a quarter. It is very hard even for an adult to keep his thoughts from
wandering, and his eyes from glancing over the congregation during all
this time. How much more hard is it, then, for a boy who is by nature a
fidget, and if healthy, brimming over with activity? Nevertheless boys
can be trained, if not to control their thoughts, at least to an outward
reverence and quietude in harmony with the service. Reproof, if it is
needed, is best administered in private. Boys should be paid, if only a
small sum; this gives the choirmaster a hold upon them, and enables him
to impose fines, if necessary. Payment can be increased for those who
take Tonic Sol-fa or other sight-singing certificates, which of course
increase their value as choristers. Let it be noted that the voices will
carry further if the boys hold up their heads. This caution is
especially needed when they are singing in the kneeling posture.

All that can be done to interest the boys in their work by encouraging
the social feeling, will be to the advantage of the choir. Their hearts
are easily won. An excursion, an evening party once a year are great
attractions. Mr. H. B. Roney, of Chicago, advocates a choir guild, and
in the choir-room he would have a library, games, puzzles, footballs,
bats and balls, Indian clubs, and dumb-bells. He would open and warm the
choir-room an hour before each service and rehearsal. To some extent he
would let the youngsters govern themselves, and says that the gravity
with which they will appoint a judge, a jury, sheriff, prisoner, and
witnesses to try a case of infraction of the choir rules, would bring a
smile to the face of a graven image. Prizes at Christmas are part of his
scheme; these should be awarded for such points as punctuality, progress
in music, reverential demeanour, and general excellence.

According to Mr. Sergison, organist of St. Peter's, Eaton Square,
London, the choirmaster will have power if he make himself beloved. He
should enter into the boys' way of looking at things, and remember that
they have deep feelings. The boys should be arranged in classes, each
higher class having higher pay, with sundry little privileges. Mr.
Sergison says that by putting the boys upon their honour, and treating
them well, he has always maintained strict discipline, and has never
yet had to resort to corporal punishment. The Rev. E. Husband, of
Folkestone, who is an enthusiastic choir-trainer, is strongly of opinion
that for vocal purposes working-class boys are better than the sons of
gentlemen. He finds that boys of a lower class have richer and fuller
voices than those above them in the social scale. I was myself present,
not long since, at a concert at Eton College, and although I was greatly
struck with the purity of the tone, its volume was thin and somewhat
shallow. One reason why working-class boys excel, probably, is that
plain food and outdoor life keep the body in the best condition, so that
the children of the poor, so long as they are well-nourished, are
healthier than the children of the rich. But the working-class boys have
also this advantage, that they begin life at four years of age in an
Infant School, where they sing every day, and receive systematic Tonic
Sol-fa teaching which is continued when they pass into the boys'
department. Boys who are trained under governesses and at private
preparatory schools often learn no singing at all. It is to be hoped
that the diffusion of musical knowledge will make these
class-comparisons, from a musical point of view, unnecessary. The
choir-boys of Christ Church, Oxford, are all the sons of professional
men, but then the choice is a wide one, as they come from all parts of
the country.

The precentor of a cathedral writes to me on an important branch of our
subject. I sincerely hope that his picture is not one that is generally

"My own experience would suggest that in connection with the training of
cathedral choristers the attention of cathedral organists might be very
advantageously drawn to the very great importance of efficiency in the
art of teaching--of imparting knowledge. The instruction given may be as
good as could well be desired, but the manner of imparting it just as
bad--such as would be condemned in any well-conducted Public Elementary
School. Uncontrolled temper, the cane, boxing of the ears, are matters
which go far to prove a teacher very seriously incompetent as a teacher.
A cathedral organist is specially exposed to the temptation to
hastiness and harshness, owing to the power he possesses. A parent
values the position of a chorister for his son, and the organist is
tempted soon to take advantage of the parent's unwillingness to withdraw
his son. In a parish choir, either voluntary or paid at a very low rate,
the exhibition of bad temper or discourtesy in manner is quickly
followed, in all probability, by the loss of the offended chorister.
Offensive manners on the part of the trainer quickly endanger the
existence of the choir. Not so in cathedrals, and the cathedral organist
knows this. 'I cannot think why that boy does not sing in tune; I have
boxed his ears;' said a cathedral organist once to me quite seriously.
This proves, I think, how blind even a highly-trained musician may be to
the need for any art in the mode of imparting instruction. I fear there
is a vulgar notion (only half defined, most probably) that irascibility
in the musical trainer is a mark of genius. I write from experience,
having been upwards of a quarter of a century in cathedrals, and a
considerable portion of that time precentor."

In conclusion, the custom of throwing a halo of sentiment round
choir-boys, and petting them, is much to be deprecated. It has become
the custom to write tales and songs about them, in which they are made
out to be little angels in disguise. All this is very foolish and
harmful. Choir-boys, as a rule, are no better and no worse than other
boys. They respond well to wise treatment, but need to be governed by
common sense, and to be taught their places. I am myself somewhat to
blame for illustrating this book with two pictures of choir boys. It is
really inconsistent.



                  { C2
                  { B1
    Small         { A1
                  { G1
    Upper Thin.   {E1
                 { {D1
    Lower Thin.  {B
                 { {F
    Upper Thick.  {E
                  { C
    Lower Thick.  { B_1
                  { A_1
                  { G_1

Before commencing to train a voice the choirmaster must make sure that
it is a voice worth training. He must take the boy alone, test his voice
by singing scales, and try especially his notes in the treble compass,
say, [Illustration: musical notation] He must test his ear by playing
phrases, and asking the boy to sing them. He must enquire into his
theoretical knowledge, if any, and ask if he has had a Tonic Sol-fa or
any other systematic training. The ear of the choirmaster must decide
upon the voice. It is said by some that boys' voices partake of one or
other of two qualities, the flute quality or the oboe quality. They
differ, no doubt, in _timbre_, but these two divisions are not clearly
marked. The diagram at the side gives the compass of the registers in
boy trebles and altos. The names are those invented by the late John
Curwen, and have the advantage of describing the physiological action
that goes on. Thus in the Thick Register, the vocal cords vibrate in
their whole thickness; in the Thin Register their thin edges alone
vibrate; and in the Small Register a small aperture only is made,
through which the sound comes. The registers are practically the same as
those of women's voices. They may be shown on the staff, thus:--

[Illustration: Lower Thick. Upper Thick. Lower Thin. Upper Thin. Small.

Chest. Middle. Falsetto.]

I give below the staff another set of names which are sometimes used,
but different voice-trainers attach to these different meanings.

It is undesirable to tell the boys anything about the registers. The
spirit of voice-training at the present time is too analytical. The
theory of the registers is for the teacher, not for the pupil. Some
voice-trainers seem to think that it is their business to discover the
registers, but as far as tone goes it is their business to conceal them.
Trainers work better through possessing physiological knowledge, but the
end is a smooth and homogeneous voice, blended and well-built.

Roughly speaking, the boys to be rejected are those who through
carelessness, excitement, or confirmed habit, force up the thick
register while singing. And those to be accepted are the boys who have
sufficient reserve and care to turn into the fluty tone at the proper
place, whether the music be loud or soft, and whatever be the shape of
the melodic passage. The right use of the voice is most likely to come
from boys who, whatever their social status, are well brought up, and
have been taught to avoid screaming, coarse laughing and bawling, and if
possible to speak in a clear way.

Voice studies are of two kinds. First come those which promote the
building and setting of the voice. These are generally sung slowly. When
the voice is becoming settled exercises for agility may be introduced.
Of agility exercises most voice-training books contain plenty. There is
a good selection in Mr. Sinclair Dunn's "The Solo Singer's Vade Mecum"
(J. Curwen & Sons, price 1s.) and Sir John Stainer has written a set,
printed on a card, which is published by Mowbray, Oxford and London,
price 6d.

When the system of probationers is at work the voice-building exercises
will not be much needed. The little boys will insensibly fall into right
habits. They will learn to produce tone as they learnt to speak--by ear.
But when a new choir has to be formed, the building exercises are
necessary. And the first object of these is to make the boy feel the
thin register and strengthen it by use. For this purpose such phrases as
these, which leap into the thin register, and quit it by step are the

[Illustration: KEY =E=[b]. d1 t l s d1 t l s m1 r1 d1 t d1]

[Illustration: KEY =G=. s f m r f m r d l s f s m]

These exercises should be sung to several vowels, but especially to the
sound "koo," which will at first immensely amuse the boys, but will
afterwards be found to throw the tone forward towards the teeth in a way
that no other sound does.

Pure vowel tone goes with pure and resonant voice. The broad and pure
vowels of the Yorkshire dialect have, more than anything else, produced
the Yorkshire voices. Hence the choirmaster must make a determined
effort to cure provincialisms in so far as they prevent the issue of
pure vowel sounds from the mouth. The vowels should be sung in their
vocal order as recommended by Mr. Behnke, oo (as in _you_), o (as in
_owe_), ah (as in _Shah_), a (as _pay_), and ee (as in _see_). These may
be taken to slow scales, thus:--

[Illustration: oo-o-ah-a-ee oo-o-ah-a-ee, &c.]

Let the choirmaster watch carefully for impure sounds, and call upon
each boy to sing two measures by himself from time to time.

In singing the boy should stand upright and free. He must not lean or
bend his body. The mouth must be fairly opened, but not too wide. As the
voice ascends the mouth opens wider. The lips must lie lightly on the
teeth, and the tongue should lie at rest, just touching the front teeth.
If, for the sake of change during a long rehearsal, the boys sit, let it
be remembered that there are many ways of sitting, and that the upright
posture hinders the breath less than lolling and a crooked posture.
Rigidity is the enemy of all good singing. Let the whole body and vocal
apparatus be relaxed, and pure tone will result. "If I hear a boy
forcing up his voice," said Herr Eglinger, of Basel, to me, "I ask the
rest of the class to point him out, and they do it at once." This at
once cures the transgressor and sharpens the consciences of the other
boys. As to the vowel on which singers should be trained, there are
differences of opinion. Maurice Strakosch, the trainer of Patti,
Nilsson, &c., used "ha," which causes a slight breath to precede the
articulation. This, he said, gives the voice a natural start. It is
something like the "koo" of Mrs. Seiler. Learners he required to lower
their heads while singing, and to show the upper teeth, so as to keep
the lips out of the way of the tone. Mr. Barnicott, a successful
choirmaster at Taunton, uses "ka." But as in the actual singing of the
English language all the vowels are encountered in turn, it would seem
reasonable that they should all be included in the practice.

Mr. Walter Brooks, quoted elsewhere, lays stress upon long-sustained
notes in the scale of E flat, and up to G. These expand the lower part
of the lungs, and produce steady, firm tone. They should be sung both
loud and soft, the boys one by one and together. An admirable plan is to
keep boys on the alert listening for faults, asking those not singing,
"Whose fault is that?" Jealousy and conceit, says Mr. Brooks, are
avoided by giving a solo to three or four boys to sing in unison. Three
or four will blend better than two, and after proper rehearsal the tone
is so like one voice that people say, "What a beautiful voice that boy

As to balance of parts, the following table is given by Mr. H. B. Roney
of Chicago:--

    Sopranos    12    17    25    37    50
    Altos        4     5     7    11    14
    Tenors       4     5     8    11    14
    Basses       5     8    10    16    22
                --    --    --    --    --
                25    35    50    75   100

Mr. Stocks Hammond says that during voice exercise the boys should stand
perfectly erect, with mouth well open, the shoulders being thrown back.
After exercise in slowly inhaling and exhaling the breath, comes the
uniting of the registers. This is accomplished by singing up and down
the scales of C, D, and E to the syllable "ah." Each tone is taken with
decision, and is followed by a slight pause. The same scales are
afterwards sung to "oh" and "oo." This exercise should not last longer
that ten or fifteen minutes. Staccato scales to "ah!" "oh!" and
chromatic passages are introduced later.

Mr. G. Bernard Gilbert, F.C.O., of West Ham Parish Church, is an
exceptionally skilled trainer of boys' voices. He meets his boys
half-an-hour before each of the Sunday Services and "tunes them up," an
admirable plan, which cannot be too widely imitated. The first thing he
does in training boys is to teach them to attack and leave sounds with
precision, neatness, and proper register or quality of voice. He gives
chief attention to the sounds between [Illustration: here the author
expresses a range from the F above middle-C (or F4) to the C above
middle-C (C5) by inserting a staff] and first practises them. If beauty
of tone is to be obtained, it is of the utmost importance that these
sounds should be given in the thin register. Mr. Gilbert has cultivated
this register in his own voice, and is able to give the boys a pattern
in the right octave, which he thinks of great use. The change from upper
thick to lower thin takes place between E and F. The boys should intone
in the thin register. Flattening while intoning is almost entirely due
to boys using the thick register. Mr. Gilbert uses the vowels as
arranged by Mr. Behnke, oo-o-ah-ai-ee, practised first with a slight
breath between each, afterwards all in one breath, _piano_ and
_staccato_. Consonants preceding these vowels are of little value, as
they only disguise a wrong action of the glottis, without removing the
fault. He uses also sustained sounds, and short major or minor arpeggi,
and last of all scale passages. If due attention be given to the
intonation of the arpeggio, the scale should not be, as it too often is,
all out of tune. The arpeggio is its skeleton or framework. Mr. Gilbert
alternates this work with the singing of intervals and the practice of
time rhythms. He attaches great value to the vowel "e" in practising
sustained notes, scales or arpeggi, though other vowels must receive due
attention. "E" has the advantage of bringing the vocal cords very close
to together, thereby effecting a greater economy of the breath than is
possible with the other vowels. He has constantly succeeded in making
boys produce a pure and beautiful tone to this vowel, especially in that
part of the voice called the upper thin, when he could not do so with
the others. Of course "e" can be sung badly, and boys will sometimes
make a nasal squeak of it, but the correct placing of the tone is
quickly learnt if the teeth are kept nicely apart. Mr. Gilbert teaches
the boys when very young the mechanism which governs their voices above
[Illustration: high f] This is the "small" register. He is careful also
about pronunciation, recommends that boys should be paid, and that bad
behaviour, laziness, or irregularity, if they occur, should be punished
by fines. One of the most marked excellences of Mr. Gilbert's choir is
its chanting, and the elocutional phrasing of the words of the hymns.
The rigidity of the time is often broken with impressive effect in
order, by an elocutional pause, to throw into relief a prominent word or

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. T. H. Collinson, Mus.B., organist of St. Mary's Cathedral,
Edinburgh, has given me some interesting particulars of the training
which his excellent boys undergo. The process of selection is as
follows:--(1) Advertisement. (2) Trial of voice, and entry of
particulars of school, school standard, father's occupation, &c. (3)
Choice of most promising voices. (4) Inspection of homes, as to
overcrowding, &c. (5) Appointment of probationers. (6) Full appointment,
with religious service of admission by the Dean. The parents engage in
writing to retain the child in the choir school until his voice changes,
or to the average age of fourteen. The boys are taken at all ages from 9
to 12-1/2.

"Cultivation of tone, blending of registers, and accuracy of pitch are
specially studied, the principal means being as follows:--(1)
Mouth-opening (silently). (2) Breathing exercise. (3) Sustained notes
_piano_, each to full length of breath. (4) _Piano_ scales. (5) Simple
flexibility exercises, _e.g._, Sir J. Stainer's card of exercises,
published by Mowbray. (6) _Crescendo_ and _Diminuendo_. (7) Behnke's
resonance vowels, oo-o-ah. (8) Behnke's glottis-stroke exercises,
oo-o-ah-ai-ee. (9) No accompaniment, except a single note on the
pianoforte every three or four bars to test pitch. Where badly flat, a
scolding, and going back to try over again. (10) At early morning
practice no _forte_ singing is allowed, as a rule.

"By the above means, especially sustained notes and _piano_ scales,
flatness is easily avoided, and the registers blend perfectly. A curious
local peculiarity has to be specially treated in the junior boys. The
Scottish 'u' as in 'gude' (good), 'puir' (poor), 'nü' (new), is
identical with the French 'u' in 'tu' or 'Hugo,' and the little fellows
sing an amusing exercise like the following:--

    You should do two,

on every note of the scale, with special care to protrude the lips to a
round whistling shape for the 'oo.' Very oddly they sing a good 'oo' in
the falsetto register, and a certain solo boy used to sing Handel's 'How
beautiful are the feet' in its first two phrases in alternate Scotch and
English, the vinegary 'ü' in the first (low) phrase, and a fine round
'oo' in the higher phrase, where 'beautiful' begins on E flat.

"Raw candidates and ill-taught children generally come minus any
register at all above [Illustration: high d] and grin with surprise on
being taught to produce sweet upper notes by open-mouth _piano_ 'ah.'

"Colds and petty hoarseness, interfering with the upper notes, are
terribly common in this climate in the class of boys obtained for the
choir. A successful soloist at Friday rehearsal may be found incompetent
by Sunday, so that all solo work is carefully understudied. A few
minutes each day suffice for the purely technical voice exercises. The
services are many in number; three on Sunday, two on week-days, and
occasional extra services at special seasons. The number of boys is kept
up to say 30, and they are worked in divisions to minimise their duties.
The boys are educated free, and seniors receive payment. 'I think that
boys' voices are much like unto boys' legs--they need daily exercise if
they are to be worth anything.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. R. H. Saxton, of Buxton, writes:--"My choir boys are almost
exclusively drawn from the working class, and the majority of them use
the thick register for the speaking voice. I take them at nine years of
age, sometimes younger if they can read fairly well, and my first effort
is to suppress the thick register altogether in singing. If they were
encouraged to use it they would most certainly abuse it by carrying it
far beyond its proper range. Soft singing is the only effective plan I
know of for removing the tendency to use the thick register. This I
insist on in modulator voluntaries and time exercises. The time
exercises are always laa'd on or above [Illustration: middle A]. In
modulator work I at first avoid beginning in the lower keys where the
thick register would naturally be used. By thus constantly cultivating
the thin register, never allowing faulty intonation to pass unnoticed,
and always checking the natural tendency of boys to sing coarsely;
together with a free use of ear exercises, in which they are taught to
recognise tones by their mental effect, I succeed at last in getting
fairly good tone. It is, however, a work of time and difficulty, on
account of the daily surroundings of the boys, and the habitually coarse
way in which they are allowed to sing in school. To avoid flattening, I
believe the course I have indicated to be the best remedy, as eye, ear,
and voice are cultivated simultaneously.

"In training the thin register special care must be taken that the Upper
Thin is brought out at [Illustration: high d] and it is often better
that the C also should be taken in the Upper Thin. A strained Lower Thin
on C sharp or D will be sure to induce flattening, while if the Upper
Thin is properly used there is no difficulty whatever in using the high
D and E within reasonable limits as the reciting note in chanting. When
the music moves about stepwise in close proximity above and below the
breaks, we have another cause of flattening. As most of our country
choirs consist at the best of but partly-trained voices, composers and
choirmasters should bear this in mind. It must not be supposed that boys
are the sole cause of flattening. Far from it, they are too often the
victims of an untuneful tenor or bass.

"From the first moment a boy comes under my care he is encouraged to
take the Tonic Sol-fa certificates, and few leave the choir without
having passed the Intermediate. I am of course now speaking of those
boys who remain with us till they are no longer of use as boys."

       *       *       *       *       *

I append an extract from a letter by Mr. J. C. E. Taylor, master of the
Boys' National School at Penzance, and choirmaster of St. Mary's Church,
which is interesting as showing the extent to which singing by ear can
be carried:--

"The children here, as in most Cornish towns, are fond of music, and
have a quick ear. I pick my boys from a school of nearly 400. I choose
them by the way they _read_ in school. They are generally of Standard
V., and between ten and eleven years of age. If younger the Psalms
puzzle them. I try a new boy's voice at the choir practice. If he has a
sweet tone, and can reach F sharp, however faintly, I accept him, and
keep him on probation at the practices. About half-a-dozen are so kept,
and the best lad fills any vacancy occurring in the choir. I have no
trouble as regards discipline, as a fine, or the knowledge that their
places can be instantly filled by the probationers, keeps the choristers
well in their places. At the choir practices I begin with running up and
down the scales with their voices together, beginning soft, and allowing
the voices to increase as the scales ascend, and diminish on descending,
but holding on to the top-most notes whilst I play a chord or two on it.
Then with a nod of my head they descend. At times one note is given them
on which to _cres._ and _dim._, for breathing exercise. Not one lad
knows his notes except as to their rise and fall and values. They depend
on their ear entirely, even in the most difficult fugues."

At this church anthems and settings of the Canticles are sung every
Sunday evening. The men are voluntary; the head boys get from 30s. to
40s. a year, the solo boys receiving 3d. or 6d. as an encouragement
after rendering a solo or verse part.

       *       *       *       *       *

In spite of all that can be written on the subject of voice-training,
the art is one most difficult to communicate. Some teachers succeed;
others fail. A remarkable instance of this came under my notice lately.
The headmaster of a school asked me to pay his boys a visit in order, if
possible, to discover the reason of the great falling-off in their
singing. His previous singing-teacher had brought the boys to a high
pitch of excellence. When he left, the singing was placed under the
charge of an undermaster, who had for a year or more heard all the
singing lessons given by his predecessor, who used the same voice
exercises with the same boys in the same room. Surely, one would have
thought the results must be the same. But the singing had deteriorated;
flattening, and a lifeless manner had overcome the boys. The causes, so
far as I could discover, were first that the new teacher wanted the
magnetic, enthusiastic way of the old, and second, that he had not so
quick an ear for change of register, and allowed the lower mechanism of
the voice to be forced up higher than its proper limits.

       *       *       *       *       *

This chapter focuses a large amount of valuable experience, but amid the
many hints which are given, two ways of securing right tone stand out
with marked prominence. They are, soft singing, and the downward
practice of scales.

[Illustration: Decoration]



I am indebted to the Rev. W. Miles Barnes, rector of Monkton,
Dorchester, for the following information, recently obtained by him on
the subject of voice-training. It appears that for the information of
choir instructors (some 200 in number) in union with the Salisbury
Diocesan Choral Association, the advice of precentors and organists of
cathedrals was lately sought as to the best way of correcting a very
common fault in the singing of country choirs.

The following questions were proposed:

"(I.) It is a common practice in country choirs for boys and
tenors to force the lower register to sing notes which
should be taken in the higher or head register. The
notes thus forced are harsh and unmusical in tone, and
generally flat in pitch. How would you correct this
fault in boys?"

"(II.) What method is employed in ---- Cathedral for developing
and strengthening the higher (head) register in
boys' voices?"

The following are extracts from the replies:--

    Rev. F. J. HELMORE, Precentor of Canterbury.

I should recommend the practice of the first five notes of the scales of
A, B[b], B, and C, _piano_, taken rather slowly, and then of intervals
from G to D, G to E[b], G to E, A to E, &c. &c. After that I would try
them with the complete scales of E, F, F[#], and G, fast and _forte_,

[Illustration: musical notation]

If no improvement is perceptible, begin again. Practice is the main
thing, after a boy has got to understand his faults.

    Rev. W. MANN, M.A., Precentor of Bristol.

(1.) I think it almost impossible to remedy the evil you complain of
after the boys have been accustomed to sing upper notes from the chest
for some time--say one or two years. Our practice here is to secure boys
between the ages of 9 and 11, before they have been singing elsewhere,
or certainly before they have acquired any faulty tricks of forcing the

(2.) In training boys' voices never allow them to shout. If they
commence singing when young they may be taught by scale practice (always
singing quietly) to bridge over the break which exists between the chest
and head voice. This is an art, and requires experience.

(3.) Speaking generally, I should say that judicious scale practice is
the remedy likely to be of most service in the case specified, teaching
boys, by singing quietly, to glide the chest voice into the upper
register. I recommend the syllable "la" as generally best for the
purpose all through the scale. Boys should keep their tongues down, open
mouths well, sing not through teeth, &c. &c. I find that boys acquire
the cathedral style of singing (with the well-known flute or bell-like
tone) chiefly by example. In singing with boys who have already acquired
it the younger ones catch the style, just as birds are taught to sing by
trained songsters. The untrained rustic can never naturally produce this
tone, but much may be done by (1) careful scale practice; (2) strict
enforcement of a quiet easy style, and rigid prohibition of shouting, or
forcing the voice; (3) the occasional example of trained singers.

    Rev. C. HYLTON STEWART, Precentor of Chester.

The great thing is not to train boys _up_ through break in the voice,
but _down_ through it, and so to coach them that the break becomes
imperceptible. The top notes ought to be practised very softly until a
good round note is procured. This, however, can seldom be done out of a
cathedral, as it requires constant attention.

    Rev. W. E. DICKSON, Precentor of Ely.

In this Cathedral, and I suppose in every other, the boys have at least
one hour of daily practice under the most favourable circumstances of
quiet music-room and good pianoforte, and an able teacher. The two
orderly services follow with the regularity of a clock, and in these the
voices of the boys are balanced and supported by those of adult
singers--presumably, good vocalists.

I think you will agree that no practical rules, available by instructors
of village choirs, can be founded upon arrangements so far beyond their
reach. To describe any "Method" of developing voices under such
circumstances would be quite delusive.

A life-long experience in the training of parish choirs would lead me to
say that the best approach to true voice production is made when a lady
takes charge of the choir, and has the boys to practise at her own

To say that all instructors should use unwearied diligence and unfailing
patience and kindness in the attempt to get soft singing, is only to
repeat a very trite remark.

In schools, the mistake is often made of singing almost all the
exercises in the key of C, and commencing all scales with the syllable
"Do." In trying candidates for admission to the choir, we constantly
find that they have been accustomed to a scale of 13 notes only (one
octave) up and down. The scales should begin on all or any of the
notes--D[#], B[Symbol: natural], G[b], &c., and the peculiarities of the
intervals should be familiarly explained.

A pamphlet might be written. But there is no "Royal road."

    J. M. W. YOUNG, Esq., Organist of Lincoln.

The precentor has forwarded your note to me. In answer to your question
asking how to prevent the trebles in country choirs from forcing the
upper notes, I would suggest that when practising the choir, care should
be taken that the trebles are never allowed to sing even the _middle_
notes _loud_, only _mf_, and they should be frequently practised to sing
_piano_. If this be attended to, it will, in a great measure, prevent
the forcing of the voice on the higher notes, which should never be
practised otherwise than softly.

Country choirs nearly always sing twice as loud as they ought to do,
consequently the tone becomes harsh and grating, and they invariably
sing the upper notes out of tune.

I never allow the Cathedral choristers to practise in a loud tone of
voice, yet their voices are rich and mellow, and there is never any want
of power when it is required. Any tendency to force the voice is checked
at once. It will be found very useful to practise the trebles with the
diatonic scale at a moderately quick pace, taking care to sing it
_smoothly_ and _piano throughout_, first to "OO," next to "Oh," and
finally to "Ah."

[Illustration: Decoration]



It is impossible to emphasise too strongly the importance of clear
pronunciation in singing. The English, as a rule, pronounce
indistinctly. "We carry on our talk," says Mr. H. Deacon, "in mere
_smudges_ of sound," a graphic and true way of putting things. The
Scotch, Welsh, and Americans pronounce better than we do. Indistinctness
and bad dialect arise, roughly speaking, from two sources--impure vowels
and omitted consonants. The impure vowels are generally due to local
habits of speech, such as the London dialect, which makes a colourless
mixture of all the vowels. In some parts of Scotland also the vowels are
very impure. The voice-training exercises given elsewhere are several of
them directed towards the production of good vowel tone, but the danger
is lest the power gained in these should not be applied to the actual
words encountered in psalm, canticle, anthem, or hymn. A sentence
containing all the vowels may be chanted repeatedly on a monotone, but
after all the best exercise consists in constant watchfulness against
mispronunciation in the ordinary weekly practice.

Man, according to Mr. R. G. White, may be defined as a consonant-using
animal. He alone of all animals uses consonants. The cries of animals
and of infants are inarticulate. So is the speech of a drunken man, who
descends, vocally as well as in other ways, to the level of the beasts.
This idea has been expressed in another way, by saying that vowels
express the emotional side of speech, and consonants its intellectual
side. All these distinctions point to the great importance of a clear
enunciation of initial and final consonants, and a clear separation of
words. A well-known bishop said to a candidate for ordination, "Before
uttering a second word be sure that you have yourself heard the first."

It is of no use to give a list of common errors, because each part of
the country has its own bad points of dialect. The choirmaster should
take his standard of English from the best preacher and reader he has
the chance to hear, and endeavour to conform his boys to it.

But localisms are not the only faults. Boys are very apt to clip their
words in chanting, to omit the smaller parts of speech altogether, and
to invent new and meaningless sounds of their own. The most familiar
parts of the service need frequent and watchful rehearsal to prevent
this tendency. Chanting, as a rule, is much too fast, and the eagerness
of the boys must be restrained in this direction.

In those rare cases where pronunciation and elocutional phrasing reach a
high pitch of excellence, the music of the service makes a double appeal
to the heart. It bears not only the charm of sweet sounds, but the
eloquence of noble words.

[Illustration: Decoration]



Many choirmasters maintain that, considering the short musical life of
the choir-boy, it is not worth while to teach him to sing by note. The
quickness of boys' ears for music, they say, is astonishing, while their
memories are equally good. Between the two faculties--ear and memory--we
are told that all things necessary are supplied. The boys, it is said,
don't like theory, and it saves time and patience not to have to teach
it to them.

I am altogether at issue with this view. I believe theory can be made
interesting to boys, especially if the Tonic Sol-fa system is used, and
that if they are taught sight-singing the choirmaster saves himself a
vast amount of trouble. The after musical doings of the boys should also
be considered, and whether they become tenors and basses, or take to an
instrument, the power to read music will be a happiness through their
whole lives.

The leading anthems, services, and psalters are now published in the
Tonic Sol-fa notation, so that boys who have learnt to sing from the
letters at school may quickly be put to sing their parts in the church
choir. The late Alfred Stone, of Bristol, who used the Tonic Sol-fa
notation for his choir boys, found it a great time-saver. So quickly was
the service music got through at the weekly practice that there was
nearly an hour to spare for singing glees and getting up cantatas. Mr.
Stone arranged his boys in two grades. The upper grade all held a Tonic
Sol-fa certificate, and they received higher pay than the lower grade.
The result of this arrangement was that the lower boys got the upper
ones to teach them Tonic Sol-fa in their playtime, and thus saved the
choirmaster a great deal of trouble.

A serious disadvantage of the ordinary way of learning to sing from the
staff notation is that practice usually begins in, and is for several
months confined to key C. For boys' voices this is the most trying of
all the keys--the one most likely to lead to bad habits in the use of
the registers. The keys for boys to begin in are G and F, where you can
get a cadence upon the tonic in the thin register. A German choirmaster,
whose choir is greatly celebrated, has sent me a little book of
exercises which he uses, and I find that, as in most English
publications of a similar kind, there are pages of exercises in key C,
before any other key is attempted. In Tonic Sol-fa all keys are equally
available from the first.

I have had a wide experience of boys taught on all systems, both in this
country and abroad. I have been present, by the courtesy of
choirmasters, at rehearsals in all parts of the country. And I have
noticed that boys taught by ear, or taught the staff notation by the
fixed _do_, make mistakes which boys trained by Tonic Sol-fa and singing
from it, or applying their knowledge of it to the staff notation, could
not make. The class of mistake I refer to is that which confuses the
place of the semitones in the scale. A sight-singing manual which I
picked up the other day says that the whole matter of singing at sight
lies in knowing where the semitones come. And from one point of view
this is true, but to the Tonic Sol-faist the semitones always come in
the same places, _i.e_., between _me_ and _fah_, and between _te_ and
_doh_. He has only one scale to learn, and as to modulation, that is
accomplished for him by his notation, while the time marks, separating
and defining the beats or pulses of the music, make rhythm vividly

If choirmasters wish to save themselves trouble, and get confident
attack and good intonation from their boys, they should teach them the
Tonic Sol-fa notation, and let them sing from it always. The staff
notation they can easily learn later on.



The trainer of adult voices has constantly before him the problem of
making his pupils sing in tune. With boys this matter is less of a
trouble, for this reason. Many adults have fine voices which, if their
intonation can be improved, will do great things. Others have incurably
bad voices, but possessing the ambition and the means for studying
singing, they come under the hands of the professor. In the case of
boys, however, there is a preliminary process of selection by which the
teacher rejects at the outset any defective ears and voices. The trainer
of boys chooses his pupils; adult students of singing, as a rule, choose
their teacher.

Even, however, when a good set of boys has been chosen and trained,
every choirmaster is troubled from time to time by the evils which I
have named at the head of this paper.

What are their causes? Probably no cause is so fruitful as a misuse of
the registers of the voice, a straining upwards of the lower register
beyond its proper limits. This may be placed in the front as a perpetual
cause of bad intonation and loss of pitch. This straining is usually
accompanied with loud singing, but boys who have formed this bad habit
will not at once sustain the pitch if told to sing softly. Their voices,
under these circumstances, will at first prove weak and husky, and will
flatten as much with soft singing as they did with loud. A slow process
of voice training can alone set them right. But as boys' voices last so
short a time this treatment is not worth the trouble. Boys who have
fallen into thoroughly bad habits should therefore be dismissed, and a
fresh selection made.

Some choirmasters imagine that practice with the organ or the pianoforte
will cure flattening and uncertainty. This, however, is not the case.
Probably the effort to keep up the pitch which singers make when
unaccompanied keeps their minds and throats tense and active, while the
consciousness that the instrument is supporting them makes them
careless. An instrument reveals loss of pitch, but does not cure it. No
good choirmaster rehearses with the organ. A pianoforte, lightly
touched, is commonly used, but the teacher should frequently leave his
seat, and accustom the choir to go on alone.

It is a mistake to suppose that boys flatten because the music is too
high. This is very rarely the case. They are more likely to flatten
because it is too low. Boys attack high notes with greater ease than

Nervousness will cause a singer who has sung in perfect tune at home to
sing sharp or flat at a concert. But nervousness does not greatly
trouble boys.

Carelessness will sometimes cause these troubles. The way to cure this
is to increase the interest of the rehearsal, to make the boys feel
bright, happy, and comfortable.

To mark the breathing places is a good way of preventing flattening,
which is often caused by exhausted lungs.

Singing is a mental as well as a physical act, and unless the boy has a
clear conception in his mind of the sound of the note he wants, the
intonation will be uncertain. Here comes in the Tonic Sol-fa system with
its "Mental Effects," which give a recognisable character to each note
of the scale, and guide the voice and ear.

Bad voice production, throaty and rigid, must always go with flattening
and wavering pitch. The act of singing should be without effort; the
muscles of head, neck, and throat should be relaxed. A boy inclined to
these faults should be told to smile while singing. The tone will then
become natural.

But in spite of all these hints, flattening occurs from time to time in
the best trained choirs, and seems to defy the skill of the
choirmaster. All agree that a half empty church, a cold church, an
ill-ventilated church promotes flattening, and it may be added that
certain chants and tunes so hover about the region of the break that
they invite false intonation.

Mr. H. A. Donald, headmaster of the Upton Cross Board School, tells me
that he has not much flattening, but that when it comes it seems to be
beyond control. The discipline of his school is excellent, but on a
given day there will come, as it were, a mood over the boys which makes
it impossible for them, try as they will, to avoid sinking. Sometimes,
but not always, this will happen in warm weather. He has more than once
abandoned the singing lesson, and taken up some other study because of
it. One day recently the boys were most attentive, and their vexation
and disappointment with the flattening was evident. Another day it does
not trouble them in the least. This is a school where voice-training is
exceptionally well looked after.

Several correspondents have favoured me with experience on this point,
and I now proceed to quote their letters. Mr. W. W. Pearson, of Elmham,

"Ordinary flat singing is the result of want of practice and experience.
Chronic flat singing is incurable, as it is due to a defective ear. A
new lot of choir boys will be liable to sing flat, and to lower their
pitch at any time for the first year or so; but after they have been in
training for a considerable time, I never find that there is any
inclination to sing flat. The notes most liable to be sung flat are the
third and sixth of the scale, or any high note that requires courage and
increased effort. One of these, having been sung flat, is taken by the
singers as a new departure, and being used as a standard, the pitch is
lowered, and all succeeding notes are flat.

"When I first formed my present choir I was very much plagued with flat
singing, but I am seldom troubled in that way now, and I think the
reason is that a large proportion of the members have been under
training for a long time.

"I used to find flattening prevail more in muggy, damp, or cold
weather, and in heated rooms. I never allowed the choir to go on in this
way, but stopped them at once, making them begin again after singing the
scale of the key a few times. This, of course, refers to practice. In
church I used to play the organ louder when I heard the pitch going
down; or I would put on a powerful solo stop for the melody, and
slightly prolong the final note of a cadence, in order that when the
choir ceased singing they might hear the difference. When flattening
occurred in the concert room I used to stop the accompaniment, which is,
I think, about all that can be done under those circumstances. When the
choir have been hopelessly bad in a hot practice room I have cured them
by bringing them out into a cold room adjoining."

Mr. C. Hibberd, of Bemerton, Salisbury, writes:--

"To prevent flattening I give great attention to the posture, seeing
that the boys do not stand carelessly. A careless posture, I think,
betokens a careless mind. I am careful not to overtire the children.
They sit immediately one piece is finished, and stand immediately I
sound the first chord of the next piece. I always start the practice
with a few simple voice exercises. When training the choir of a place
far away in the country, I spent more time than usual in giving ear
exercises (dictation), as well as voice-training exercises. I pay great
attention to 'mental effect,' and endeavour to let each boy or girl have
a Tonic Sol-fa copy of the music. The syllables recall the mental effect
to the mind. There should be no uncertainty as to either time or tune,
and both words and notes should be attacked or struck with confidence. I
always practise scales downwards, and have as little to do with the
harmonium as possible at practice. Boy altos I rarely come across. I
tried them once, but found they aided in flattening. We have two men
altos here, who sing in a falsetto voice. The boys here have a name for
singing well in tune, and they are very willing to do anything to keep
up their character."

Mr. Walter Brooks, in a paper in the _Monthly Musical Record_, expresses
the opinion that the 3rd and 7th of the major scale are often sung
flat. To cure this, each boy must tune up separately, then all should be
tried together. Minor passages are often sung flat. Loss of pitch during
service may, he says, be remedied, not by loud organ stops, but by
playing the boys' part an octave higher. Sharp singing, which often
arises from naturally defective or badly-trained ears, is cured best by
checking those who can only sing loudly, and by insisting on _piano_
singing. To put on more organ power makes the loud sharp singing worse.

Herr Eglinger, of Basel, whose qualifications I have referred to
elsewhere, considers that flattening is generally due to fatigue. The
membranes which produce the voice are not yet strong, and they relax,
producing flattening. He works on the principle that children are
quickly tired, and quickly rested, and gives the singing in small doses.
Unfortunately, in church work the length of the dose is not a matter of
choice. He notices, what others have noticed, that when the voices are
divided into three parts, it is the middle part that flattens most; this
is because it plays about the break. To choirmasters whose boys flatten,
Herr Eglinger says:--

"Give rest; require a proper use of the registers; get sharp and exact
pronunciation, especially of the consonants; and keep up with a strong
hand the attention and interest of the choir."

I close this chapter by printing a short paper on the subject kindly
written for me by Mr. W. H. Richardson, formerly trainer of the
celebrated Swanley Orphans' Choir, which gave concerts in all parts of
the country. Mr. Richardson, while he was at Swanley, obtained results
of the most remarkable excellence. At Swanley there was no selection of
voices: all were made to sing, and all were individually trained, as
well as collectively. "My conviction," says Mr. Richardson, "is that
there are no more defective voices than there are eyes and ears." The
Rev. W. J. Weekes, late Precentor of Rochester Cathedral, said of the
Swanley boys:--

"The smaller boys were first tested--some thirty or forty little
fellows, some of them new arrivals. Here the tone, though of course not
strong, was pure and sweet, such as would have done credit to cathedral
boys after a couple of years' training, and they 'jumped' their
intervals most clearly, lighting as full and fairly on the correct note
as a bird does on a bough. Thence we moved into the larger schoolroom,
where were assembled some hundred older boys, and such a body of sound,
so full and pure, so free from throatiness, and so true in intonation as
these hundred throats emitted, I certainly never heard from boys' voices

In 1885 I took the late Signor Roberti, teacher of singing in the Normal
College at Turin, and an Italian composer of eminence, to hear the
Swanley boys, and he afterwards wrote to Mr. Richardson:--

"I do not exaggerate in any way by saying that I found there a true
perfection in tune and in rhythm, but above all, in what concerns the
pure and correct emission of voices, the careful and judicious training
of which confers much honour upon you, and I would be happy to see it
even partly imitated by the teachers of the so-called Land of Song."

These facts are enough to prove the weight that attaches to Mr.
Richardson's utterances:--

"My experience has been that flattening will give the teacher very
little trouble after the pupils have been drilled with voice-training
exercises, but until the voices are built and strengthened, he will have
unpleasant surprises of all kinds. If he would have a reliable choir he
must begin, continue, and end with regular voice training based on an
undeniably good system. From the very outset the pupil should be taught
to fear flat singing as a demon. With my boys I was for ever laying down
the self-evident truth, 'People can endure your singing if it be
tuneful, even though all other points of excellence are low, but no one
can put up with your singing out of tune, except as martyrs.' The cause
of flattening is always lack of culture. In the choirs I have trained it
has ceased to trouble me after a few months. The habit of letting the
pitch drop fosters itself in a remarkable manner, until at last the ear
of the performer is perfectly satisfied with the production of a
monstrosity. In proof of this I would mention a case which has come
painfully under my own notice. A number of boys known to me have been in
the daily habit of singing the tune:--

[Illustration: key E[b].:d | m:f:r | d:-:m | s:-:l | s:-:s | d1:-:t |
l:-s | &c.]

and as they have only had a 'go as you please system' to hold them in,
they now commence flattening at once with a _crescendo_ which culminates
in the second line, and creates the effect:--

[Illustration::d | m:f:r |d:-:m |s:-:l | s:-:s | 1d1:-:t |l:-:s|| &c.]

The original quite gone, they quite satisfied! The cause of continued
flat singing is allowing the _bad habit_. I am not, of course, dealing
with exceptional cases of natural inaptitude. These are rare, and I say
this after having had some years of experience in testing individual
voices. I could now with very little difficulty name the few pupils I
had at Swanley who were naturally unable to sing tunefully, and I doubt
not that nearly all my old scholars could do the same. They were in
reality exceptions, numbering, during the whole of the time I was with
them, not more than half-a-dozen.

"There is one stage in the voice training where the teacher finds his
pupils (boys I am speaking of, my experience with adults not having been
so extensive) habitually _sharpen_. In my own neighbourhood a teacher
who has commenced to properly train his boys to sing, in a conversation
he had with me told me of this, to him, unexpected difficulty. To get
good intonation in part-singing, I found the singing of chords a great
help. The class should be divided rapidly, and one note of the chord
assigned to each section. Then it should be sung softly. This should be
repeated with other chords, and followed by easy phrases. Voices do not
at once blend, and until they do the singing should be never loud. I
look upon the earlier work as tentative--a feeling for the beauty of
perfection of pitch, tunefulness, and intonation. A practice to be
condemned is that of learning the parts of a tune separately, and then
bringing them together. There are, of course, places where it is
absolutely necessary to give special attention to exceptional passages,
but it is a mistake to teach each part as though it were an independent
tune--to give the direction, which I have often heard, 'Now sing your
part, and never mind what the others are doing,' or 'Don't you listen to
any other part.' This system is answerable for the most offending cases
of want of tunefulness, in which one part will sing on with the greatest
of satisfaction in a key a semitone from that in which the part above or
below is moving. The ear should be prepared by a symphony, or by
thinking of the key before a piece is commenced. My own practice has
been to wait after giving the key-note for the pupils to do this. I have
recently come across a method of allowing the pupils to find the tonic
of a song about to be sung, which in nine cases out of ten will make the
opening as 'restless' as the sea waves. The teacher strikes the C fork,
and the tonic being F, all the pupils sing C', B, A, G, F--doh. The C',
B, A, G, F is, I think, as likely to unsettle the ear as anything that
could be imagined. The teacher should give the key-note. He may teach
his pupils to use the fork if he will, but _not_ in a way so exquisitely
calculated to unsettle the ear when it should be strongly decided.

"With regard to Registers, I do not know whether the nomenclature I
employed with my Swanley choir will be commended by you, but as it was
successful I will describe it. The registers we called, perhaps
inelegantly, 'Top,' 'Middle,' and 'Bottom,' these terms being handier
than Upper Thin, Lower Thin, and Upper Thick. The earliest exercises
were in the Top Register--that is, the Upper Thin. Boys untrained are,
taken in bulk, unconscious of the Thin Register. Having got them to
sing, say C to koo, I have followed it by singing to the same syllable
the tune:--

[Illustration: KEY A[b] | m:m |f:f |s:--|m:--|| &c.]

('Now the day is over,'--_A. & M._), and the delight has been intense
when the pupils have thus discovered how clearly and sweetly they could
sing. When this is done great possibilities seem to open, and the pupil
is on the road to perfection. B[b] and E[b] I found most convenient for
change. The Small Register must have been used, as my lads sang up to
C2 with the greatest ease and finish, though one of our foremost
teachers, in a conference I had with him on the subject, said he would
stake his reputation that the small register was not employed by them.
It received no name in our practices after that authoritative statement,
and ever afterwards I was in dread of being called over the coals for
allowing the Top register to get too high.

"Boy altos can be made to sing without flattening, though they
invariably give more trouble than trebles on account of their
willingness to let the lower register overlap the one above--to force
upward. They should practise with the trebles such exercises as:--

[Illustration: KEY E[b] s f m r d]

so as to strengthen this part of the voice, which may be termed their
flattening field."



By W. H. RICHARDSON, Formerly Conductor of the Swanley Orphanage

[A] Mr. Richardson has responded to my request for hints with such
fulness and weight that I devote a separate chapter to his essay. In
writing, he has specially had in view the difficulties of choir trainers
in rural districts.

All that a writer on the training of voices can do is to lay down
general lines, and give comprehensive suggestions. The teacher, to make
any use of them must be indeed a _teacher_, not a mere mechanically
automatic individual of only sufficient calibre to take the directions
of a writer, and give them again. He should be both enthusiastic in his
work, and willing to spend his strength in patience if he would have a
choir of boys to sing _reliably_ well. It is of the greatest importance
that work should be set out on right lines, and that a thoughtfully
prepared scheme should be arranged before commencing. I would here give
my experience of two choirs I had at different times in agricultural
districts, and in one of them I was well satisfied with the progress we
made, while in the other my work was completely thrown away. The reason
for the failure in the second instance (which I foresaw from the outset)
will be gathered from the following account of our plan of campaign. The
choir was a village one which met for rehearsal once a week. The
organist attended and presided at a harmonium, and, _nolens volens_, I
had at the beginning of each practice to take the choir through the
whole of the next Sunday's services. The boys' voices were, at the
beginning of my connection, uncivilised, and at the end of
it--fortunately the question of ways and means not allowing the interval
to extend beyond a few months--were as barbarous as at the commencement.
There was absolutely no chance of making a name through these
youngsters; and as to voice culture! How could it be possible to attempt
it after labouring through such a programme as Canticles, Hymns, Psalms,
Kyrie, and Amens?

I determined never to take office again unless I could have my own way
in fixing the time-table of work. My success in the other case was owing
greatly to the fact that I had one night a week entirely devoted to
musical training and voice culture. This did not preclude us from
relieving the drudgery of work by the singing of songs and hymns, _but_
it allowed me the use of an unfettered judgment in the _choice_ of what
should be attempted. A teacher is heavily handicapped if after getting
his boys for the first time to sing in the upper thin register, he is to
follow his delicate work by singing half-a-dozen verses to a tune which
will in the very first verse undo all that he has done, simply because
its melodic progression encourages forcing. Experienced teachers will
appreciate what I say on this point. Take such a tune as:--

[Illustration: &c.

KEY E[b]. {|m:f |s:l |t:d1 |s:f || &c.]

--a tune which inevitably causes a wrong use of the registers by
inexperienced boys. The tunes selected should further the work of the
exercises, not undo it, and with diligence the teacher can find suitable
tunes and chants for this purpose. My advice to all teachers is that
before commencing work they should insist upon conditions that do not
preclude success, and that they should not spend their labour in
wearying drudgery with the full consciousness that to attain it is

One suggestion I would make is that the choirmaster, if he be not, as is
often the case in villages, also schoolmaster, would do well to enlist
the services of the school teachers in the village. It is not often
practicable to have more than one--or two at the most--meetings of a
choir during the week, and the length of the lesson must be, in
consequence, at least an hour. For voice training in the earlier stages
six lessons a week of fifteen minutes each are preferable to one of an
hour and a half, and therefore I would urge the _necessity_ of getting
hold of the sympathies of the school teacher, and putting him on right
lines to work out the choirmaster's ideas, if the offices be not united.

Voice work should be begun in the infant school. At Swanley it was my
practice to give, I believe, daily lessons in the Infant Department, and
the remarks made by visitors will bear out what I am about to say as to
the possibility of getting young children to sing, and sing like little
angels. I was always as pleased to exhibit my infants' vocal powers as
to show those of my more advanced boys, and success was, comparatively
speaking, more easily gained with them than with older boys, for
inasmuch as the difficulty of registers and breaks does not exist as
such with these tiny ones, and unless our plans be artificial or formed
of caprice, this is what should be expected.

In the infant school the teacher can take hold of the good that is
innate, and mould it; in the higher school he has to spend hours and
hours eradicating the bad habits which shouting and untamed license have
allowed to grow. By all means begin with the infants, and let their
songs and nursery rhymes be written so as to "give them a chance."

But I am asked to say something that may be helpful to the choirmaster
having to train the vocal organs of boys who are beyond infantile
methods. I will therefore suppose myself for the first time before an
ordinary country group of lads with all the vocal faults that now appear
indigenous to the locality. I should first get them to find the Upper
Thin Register, and my plan is to confine the work to this region
[Illustration: musical notation] and get the boys to sing "koo" to D,
E, or F, making my own "Exercises," which are suggested by present

[Illustration: Koo koo koo koo koo koo koo koo koo koo

KEY D[b]. d1 m1 m1 d1 m1 r1 d1 d1 r1 m1

Koo koo koo koo koo koo koo koo koo koo

KEY D. d1 r1 d1 l t d1 d1 t r1 d1

Koo koo koo koo koo koo koo koo koo

KEY E[b]. d1 r1 t d1 r1 d1 l s d1

Koo koo koo koo koo koo koo koo koo koo

KEY B[b]. s f m r d s m s s s]

As at this stage the boys know nothing of the diatonic scale, I let them
imitate. The exercises _may_ be played on a pianoforte, if the teacher
cannot sing them, though in the latter case it is preferable that he
should adopt the plan of selecting his best pupils for the models.

I once had to commence with some uncultured boys, and knowing the
difficulty of getting them to make a start, took with me a few of my own
trained lads, who sang the exercises first, after which I added one or
two of the beginners to them, and sympathetically they soon sang in the
proper register with the others. By continuing the process of addition
gradually I soon got the whole class to sing as I wished.

At this first lesson the proper production of "oo" (vowel) should be
obtained. I deal with the vowels as they arise, never observing a lack
of clearness and purity without endeavouring to correct it. The
foregoing exercises can next be used for teaching the intervals of the
diatonic scale, for instance:--

[Illustration: KEY F. {|d1:--| s:--|| s:--| d1:--||]

calling the notes by their names, doh soh. Here, again, the proper vowel
production must be sought for, and obtained. The difficulties will be
varied in this respect with the locality. Often I have met with
doh-_oo_. This, as well as ray-_ee_, and other faults that need not be
specified, can be corrected at once. The beautiful intonation we had at
Swanley I attribute in a large measure to the care bestowed on the
production of vowel sounds. There must be no division of opinion among
the singers as to how any particular vowel sound should be emitted. If
there be not unity in this respect the intonation suffers.

The earlier exercises should be sung in unison, a correct division into
1st, 2nd, and 3rd trebles being impossible until the boys have acquired
sufficient confidence to show _what_ they are naturally. I have for a
long time used with advantage the single chant form for exercises,
making them myself.

[Illustration: KEY F. {|d1:-|l:t |d1:-||d1:-|t:1 |s:t |d1:-||]

In order to avoid waste of time in learning exercises they should be
_short_, so that they can be caught up at once.

To get boys to sing in the register below (the Lower Thin) is the next
step, the exercises now being confined between [Illustration: musical
notation] and formed in the same way as those in the higher region. The
difficulty is greater in getting rough boys to use this part of the
vocal score correctly. The best way I have found to get them to
discover it, is to sing [Illustration: KEY F. s f m r d]--beginning at
C1, to koo. The notes are at first weak, and there is a tendency to
"squork," if I may so term it. These exercises must be sung softly at
first, and at this stage the schoolmaster can render valuable help if he
will get his boys to read from their lesson books in this register
instead of in the one below it.

I have to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to one of our best and most
painstaking teachers for giving me this hint. The reading will at first
be weak, and in a monotone, and there being no flexibility, the boys
will have difficulty in forming the usual cadence at the end of
sentences, but practice will soon strengthen the weakness, and make this
register as strong as the one below it. Between the one above and the
one below, this "middle" one is apt to be overlooked altogether, and I
have heard some fairly pleasing singing where it has not been recognised
at all.

The third register (Upper Thick) should now receive attention, and in
order to find it the pupils should cultivate it upwards with such
exercises as--

[Illustration: &c.

KEY A[b]. d_1 r_1 d_1 d_1 r_1 m_1 &c.

Koo koo koo koo koo koo]

Within the limits of a short paper, it is impossible to give more fully
all the needful directions for training the voices to cover up breaks,
and to change from one register to another.

Suitable tunes should now be selected, so that the aim of the exercises
may be extended. Remember that it is easiest to _leap_ from one register
to a higher, a stepwise ascent being an insidious snare. Koo and
afterwards laa such tunes as:--

[Illustration: KEY C.

{| s:m |d1:s |m1:-.r1|d1:s |l:l |s:d1 |s:f |m:-||

KEY E[b].

{|m:r |f:m |r:-|m:-||l:s |t:d1 |s:-|f:-||

{|m:r |f:m |r:-|l:-||d1:s |m:r |d:-|-:-||]

Many ready-made exercises are to be found in any chant book, which can
be used to strengthen the voice and build it. For voice exercise I like
a high reciting note at the beginning, D1, C1, E[b]1, as by this we
ensure getting the right register for the high notes, which will be a
matter of doubt for some time if the question of suitability of melody
be left out of calculation.

I strongly recommend the use of the time names. For some years I was
prejudiced against them, but after trying them, believe them to be of
the greatest value.

The teacher should give manual signs for his short exercises. Time is
wasted unnecessarily if the teacher has to turn and write on the board.
The objection to working through a book, only using prescribed
exercises, is chiefly this--no book writer can provide for all the
permutations and combinations that may arise during the actual work of
teaching; it is impossible for him to anticipate them. This does not in
the least detract from the value of the book, which must be the best
_general_ guide for by far the larger part of our teachers.

I have referred to the teaching of vowel sounds, and would say a word
about consonants. My practice has been to guard against giving undue
prominence to any individual letter, and to encourage always a _simple
unaffected utterance_ in singing. Rolling "r's" is very well, but to
precede the vowel with a sound not unlike the noise caused by springing
a police rattle is neither artistic nor pleasing. My custom was to first
let the pupils sing a vowel, say _aa_, and require it to be held on as
long as my hand was still. A sharp movement of the hand directed when
the consonant should appear, as _aa--t_, &c., the appearance and
disappearance being as close together as possible. It is a difficulty
with beginners to sing such words as "night," "bright," &c., holding on
the middle part, or vowel. I demonstrated that the singer has nothing
left to sing after having too soon disposed of the vowel. I also gave
exercises in prefixing a consonant to a vowel. Other points of detail
will arise, such as in the word "sing." The habit here is to make the
"ng" sound throughout the greater part of the durance of the singing of
the word. By analysing, and showing by copying the bad model, the
teacher will convince the pupil that "ng" held on is unpleasant. In
singing laa, laa, laa, &c., at first pupils lower and raise the jaw.
This should be at once stopped. But it is impossible to anticipate every
difficulty that will arise under this head. I have said enough to
indicate generally my method. I do not propose to enter into the
question of breathing. One thing I would say--do not try pupils by
requiring them to sing long notes at first, but do get them at the
beginning to "phrase" to your pattern. This will from the first get the
will to control the breath taking.

By all means introduce certificates. By the examination of individuals,
the teacher will get truer knowledge of his learners' powers, and will
be enabled to give advice of greater value because of its assured need.
Let the examination be in public--before the other pupils--and so help
to beget confidence in the pupil, without which success will be limited.
The teacher should never do anything to destroy the confidence of his
pupils, though I am bound to admit that I have not always been free from
irritability and impatience in my dealings with pupils. The work is
trying, the nerves of a teacher of singing are throughout highly
strung, and very little cause is necessary to upset his equilibrium. He
should therefore be ever on his guard to check any tendency to show

Never get a pupil to sing alone for the sake of showing his defects to
others. No one can _sing_ who does not possess a sense of his power to
do so. There should be encouraged an _abandon_ sort of manner. A
gentleman once said to me, "I see how you make your boys sing; you tell
them they can do it, and that makes them do it." The rigid watching of
the beat of the conductor should not be too closely insisted on. No
machine-like singing should satisfy, even though it be _correct_. The
correctness of a great painter's production is not everything, and
neither is it with the singer. There should an atmosphere of the liberty
of freedom.

At Swanley my work was lessened by the interest that all my colleagues
took in it. A moral force was constantly brought to bear on the boys,
which made them work with a will and a determination to excel. Their
success was the same in other departments of work, though not so
prominently placed. The music teacher who has in himself the power to
draw out the latent feeling of his pupils is the one who will best
succeed. I would draw my remarks to a close with this advice:--Make your
choir as large as possible. Take all who will come into it, and do not
go through the form of "trying" voices that have never tried themselves,
and of which you can form no opinion. For adults this is a necessity,
but for children it is better to get one or two per cent. of naturally
defective learners, rather than to turn away all but those showing
undoubtedly exceptional ability.



My object is to help those whose difficulties are greatest; who, so far
from being able to pick out boys of musical talent and fine voice, are
obliged to accept the material that offers, often of the poorest musical
description. The country boy is a more healthy animal than his brother
of the town, and there is no fault to be found with the natural volume
of his voice provided he can be taught to place his registers rightly,
to avoid straining the thick or chest register, to pronounce and phrase
properly. This is, however, what the Americans call "a large order."

I have been fortunate in collecting information from several
choirmasters in agricultural districts, who have conquered the
difficulties of this task. First, I quote Mr. W. Critchley, choirmaster
and schoolmaster at Hurst, near Reading:--

"The rural choir-boy differs somewhat from his brethren of the town in
the following particulars. As a rule, he is duller, and slower in his
perception; he is attentive and docile, but sluggish; he retains what he
is taught, and therefore, as far as mere knowledge and memory are
concerned, it 'pays' to take him in hand. His voice is strong, but
rough, and this undisciplined strength is the cause of most of the
trouble he gives. Moreover, he is exposed to the weather very largely,
and this causes him to be more influenced by atmospheric changes than
the town boy, and prevents, in a great measure, any great delicacy of
finish from being obtained. So it will be seen that the country
choir-boy requires special treatment in order to produce good results.
Sometimes, when a village lies compactly together, a large amount of
work can be got through similar to that which we find in towns, but
generally the rural district is wide and scattered, and only a limited
number of practices can be secured. Under these circumstances, I have
found the best course to pursue to be somewhat as follows:--First and
foremost, let the Tonic Sol-fa system be taught, it lightens the work of
the choirmaster in a wonderful degree, and the boys bring an
intelligence to their work which is unattainable by any other means. If
the system has not been taught in the day school of the parish, it
should be introduced at once; if that is not practicable, the choir-boys
should be taught at a second practice-night. This second practice is
required in any case, if anything better than mere 'scratch' singing be
aimed at. _All_ practices should be begun by voice exercises. On the
extra night a greater amount of time should be taken up with them, for
to a country choir-boy, who perhaps in the day is shouting to scare
birds, they are vital. The lower register of a country boy is, as a
rule, coarse, so it is important to get him to use his higher register
as soon as possible. Show him first of all that he has, as it were, _two
voices_, and point out that he is required, as Mr. Evans observes, to
use that voice which is most like a girl's. He will be apt for some time
to use this voice in the upper notes of the music only, and there will
be a disagreeable transition to the lower register when the music comes
down on G, or thereabouts. To conquer this, I use exercises which train
the upper register _downwards_, such as:--

[Illustration: KEYS A to F.

d m s m d r [(.d] [(.t]_1 [(.l]_1]

the object being to strengthen the upper register, and, except where the
music touches D or C, [Illustration: musical notation] to practically
'shelve' the lower thick register in the case of treble voices. In
training upwards I insist on easy singing, no straining. I don't mean
apathetic singing, for this is especially to be fought against in the
case of country boys, as there is naturally a want of 'go' about them. I
mean soft singing, but energetic. I tell the boys to sing like birds,
and they generally understand from this that they are to use the upper
register. I do not find much difficulty with them in the way of
flattening. Except in the case of the younger boys, I often hear them a
little sharp. The Tonic Sol-fa method trains their _ears_, and I get
them to listen, and blend their voices; above all, to get rid of apathy.
And if there should be a tendency with the younger boys to sing flat, I
generally find that the application of the old rules as to position,
loud singing, forcing the voice, faulty breathing, and inattention will
remedy the fault. If it occurs in church, a judicious use of a four-foot
stop on the organ often keeps up the pitch. I find, if the melody of a
chant or tune has a great many of the 'thirds' of the chords in it (I
mean as distinct from the fifth, root, &c.) it is often difficult,
especially on a foggy morning, to keep it in tune, _e.g_.:--

[Illustration: KEY G.

{| [(.m] |m:r |m:--|| [(.m] |r:d |r:r |m:--||



{| [(.m] |f:m |re:--|| [(.m] |r:d |t_1:r |d:--||



{| [(.m] |f:l |s:--|| [(.s] |d1:m |r:f |m:--||]

This is the case in a marked degree when the reciting tone comes about
the natural 'break' of the voice. The remedy for this I find to be
transition into another key, one which I judge to be more congenial to
the state of the boys' voices. Here is where the usefulness of the Tonic
Sol-fa system to an organist comes in. A lot of practice in mental
effects has a surprising result in ear training. Sometimes, however, we
get a clergyman who intones badly, and then it is quite a struggle to
keep in tune.

"There are a number of other little points which tell against correct
singing in a country choir; the generally thick enunciation, the
provincialism, the difficulty in getting open mouths. I do a lot of
reading by pattern, and pay attention to initial and final consonants.
Country boys neglect these more than town boys. I practise without organ
as much as I can. If an instrument is used, the piano is decidedly the
best. I find Gregorian singing has a strong tendency to injure purity of
tone and delicacy of expression. I do as little of it as possible.

"On the second choir practice night I spoke of, it is certainly good to
take up glee practice, or a simple cantata. It sustains the interest,
and makes the choir a bond of union in a country village."

       *       *       *       *       *

Not long ago I found myself by chance worshipping in a remote village in
East Somerset, Churchill by name. There was, in the parish church, a
choir of six boys and four probationers, who sang so slowly and sweetly,
not with the luscious fulness of some boys I have heard, but with such
uncommonly good style for agricultural boys, that I was much interested.
These small villages have, from the present point of view, one
advantage. The day schools are "mixed" (containing boys and girls), and
the teacher is a lady. Both these influences tend to the softening of
the boy's voice. Miss Demack, the school-and choir-mistress at
Churchill, has kindly written a few notes on the subject of her work, in
which she says:--

"I certainly think that the girls' voices soften the boys'. I admit
probationers at the early age of six if I find they have any voice, as I
think the earlier the better. When I took my boys in hand, I found scale
exercises very useful. I did not teach them any tunes until I had
somewhat altered their rough voices. Another help was this: I had a girl
with a particularly good voice, and made the boys imitate her as much as
possible. This I found answered remarkably well. The boys seemed to
adopt quite a different tone."

Miss Demack teaches singing in the school and choir by ear only, and
knows nothing of the Tonic Sol-fa system.

       *       *       *       *       *

I next give a short paper kindly sent me by Mr. George Parbery,
choirmaster of the parish church, and master of the National School at
Fordingbridge, Hants:--

"Dear Sir,--As choirmaster of the parish church here, and as one who
takes great interest in the subject of singing in schools, I am happy to
respond to your request, as we are essentially a rural district.

"I have occupied my position now nearly ten years, and am just beginning
to find the benefit of the Tonic Sol-fa movement amongst my adult
members of the choir, having now nine adults who have passed through the
school with a good practical knowledge of the Sol-fa notation.

"When I commenced work here (coming from north of England) I was struck
with the very disagreeable tone of the boys' and girls' voices. To say
they sang flat does not convey how flat they sang, nor does it convey
any idea of the tone, but the same may be heard any night at the
Salvation Army meetings here. The vicar of the parish told me also upon
my arrival here, that at a church in Bournemouth a former vicar used to
import all his boy voices outside of Hampshire. So that you will gather
that I had not a light task before me to produce a tone satisfactory to
myself or the inspector. But I may safely say I have for some years
satisfied myself, and last year our assistant-inspector spoke of the
very beautiful quality of the boys' voices. I can assure you that it is
only rarely that I find occasion to complain of the tone. The moment I
hear the objectionable tone produced, I immediately stop the singing,
even if in the middle of prayers. Mine is a boys' school, but I teach
the girls singing with the boys. Now as to how I produced the change:--

"1. I introduced the Tonic Sol-fa notation.

"2. I used to practise very frequently for a few minutes upon the
modulator, making abundant use of the upper--

[Illustration: KEY C. d1 r1 m1 f1]

"3. I prohibited all shouting on high notes.

"4. Particularly was I severe upon loud singing in lower notes, say,

[Illustration: KEY F. r d t_1 l_1 s_1]

"5. I established a degree of sound, and have it still, what is known
amongst my scholars as 'singing in a whisper'--_i.e._, to produce
singing as softly as possible. This idea I picked up in Cheshire from a
good Tonic Sol-faist.

"6. I have one or two favourite hymns, which I always pitch higher than
written, and thus compel the boys to use the upper registers. The boys
know I like these hymns, and I never fail to appreciate them to the boys
at the end of singing. I also have a favourite marching tune--I don't
know the name, but I believe it is often set to the hymn, 'When mothers
of Salem.' This tune is very lofty, and I believe the boys really enjoy
its loftiness, _but there must be no shouting_. When the boys displease
me, I tell them they drop their jaw too much, and they instantly know
what I mean.

"7. I have very little alto singing in school, for the reason that it
has a tendency to encourage loudness. In my choir I arrange for three or
four of the oldest boys to sing alto.

"In conclusion, I may say I am thoroughly proud of my boys' singing from
standard I. up to the top of the school, and I believe my success has
been chiefly from abundant use of the modulator for scale practice, and
never allowing loud singing. Proud as I am of my boys, the girls
certainly excel them, and ten years ago their tone was worse, if
possible, than the boys. I have no instrument in school, but
_occasionally_ use a violin."

       *       *       *       *       *

A correspondent from another agricultural county--I will not give his
name--favours me with some rules which he has used more or less for
thirty years. In one school taught by the writer, the inspector said he
could not distinguish the boys from the girls' voices--truly a high
compliment. My correspondent names a new hindrance to church music in
rural places, namely, the clergyman's daughter!--

"Practise the scales up and down to the words 'la' and 'ha,' the latter
for the purpose of separating the teeth. Commence at the key of C to
C1, then from D to D1, and so on upwards as high as the voices of the
boys can reach, never resting satisfied until they cover two octaves
firmly. In teaching new music, and, generally speaking, in accompanying
the boys, play the note they are singing and its octave above--on the
stopped diapason and flute if an organ, or the corresponding stops on a
harmonium. Let there be no other accompaniment, and on every occasion
the octave above the note sung. This is very particular. Check one voice
singing above another. Have no leaders. Stop or subdue all harsh voices,
and make them listen to, and try to copy the pure notes of the flute;
let the boys sing well within their strength. If you lack power,
increase the number of choristers, and subdue the voices. I always
choose smooth flowing chants, with the reciting note ranging from F to
C. I do not care to go higher than G above the line in anthems or
services, but have trained them to start on B[b], 'The Sisters of the
Sea,' by Jackson.

"I never trouble about altos, they are too difficult to get, and
indifferent and troublesome when obtained, but in verse parts of
services or anthems, one of the best boys will supply the deficiency,
and even take up the lead in a chorus.

"Choirs experience a difficulty which is not included in your list of
points. I have received £60 per annum as an organist, £50 and a house.
On another occasion I was offered the choir-mastership of a church
choral society of 60 members. At this time I was trainer and conductor
of a choral society of 100 voices with string and wind accompaniment,
the subject being _The Messiah_. Yet I was not considered competent at
the church at which I played to put a tune to a hymn, but had to submit
to the parson's daughter, who was qualified through taking three months'
lessons from a German. On one occasion this lady went ten times through
a hymn to please her father in trying to fit a four-lined tune of the
wrong metre to a six-lined hymn! I offered to go through an eleventh
time, but he never interfered again. I could give you many instances
where these ladies themselves are the great drawback of good church
singing, but on the other hand, I could mention cases where they never
come near a practice, or interfere from one year's end to the other."

       *       *       *       *       *

Knowing, as I do, the devoted way in which clergymen's daughters in many
rural places train the choir, I hesitate to endorse this charge. The
work needs to be done with tact and consideration. In the vast majority
of cases these ladies are a great help. I do not approve the plan of
playing the melody in octaves while it is being learnt, which my
correspondent advocates. I give his letter as a record of earnest work.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. W. W. Pearson, of Elmham, Dereham, Norfolk, writes to me as

"I have had, as you say, a great deal of experience in teaching singing,
especially in rural districts; but the neighbourhood I have lived in for
the last twenty years (Norfolk), is a very barren field for musical
culture--the worst in my experience. The voices of those who _do_ sing
in this county are, on an average, a minor third lower than those of
Yorkshire, North Wales, the west of England, and other places where I
have had experience. They are also, for the most part, _flabby_, wanting
in resonance and quality. Tenors are very scarce, and even the few who
can sing in the tenor register, have not got the true tenor quality.
This may be the effect of the low elevation above the sea-level, and
the damp humid atmosphere; or it may be partly due to _race_.

"The plan I adopt for getting boys to use their upper registers is a
very old-fashioned one; but it is very effective. It is to make them
sing the major diatonic scale, ascending and descending; beginning at a
low pitch, and gradually raising it by a semitone at a time."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. C. Hibberd, of Bemerton, near Salisbury, whom I quote also in the
chapter on "Flattening," dwells on the difficulties of the rural
choirmaster. He says:--

"I have rarely come across the soft fluty tone in the country. I once
met with a boy with it in the choir at Parkstone, near Bournemouth, and
another here at Bemerton, but in both cases the boys were above the
average of country boys, and the village was close to a larger town. In
both cases, also, the boys had good and careful practice over and above
the ordinary choir practices. At places farther in the country it seems
an impossibility to get the tone. With only a few boys to pick from, it
is a difficulty to find boys enough to fill up ordinary vacancies. With
a great deal of trouble and practice one can get a great part of the
roughness toned down, and, as a rule, that is all."

       *       *       *       *       *

Several of my correspondents, it will be noticed, speak with great
confidence of the use of the Tonic Sol-fa system in rural places. This
system, useful everywhere, certainly attains its greatest usefulness in
places where the task of the choirmaster reaches its highest degree of
difficulty. To those whose only acquaintance with Tonic Sol-fa is a
casual glance at a printed page of the new notation, it naturally seems
strange that the use of a musical shorthand can affect the whole
training of the boy. But behind the letters and punctuation marks, which
go to make up the Tonic Sol-fa notation, there lies the Tonic Sol-fa
method--a fixed and many-sided educational system, founded on the truest
principles of education, carrying on simultaneously the training of the
ear for tune and time, making progress sure because gradually
developing the intelligence along with the voice. With Tonic Sol-fa,
also, is associated a definite system of voice-training. Tonic Sol-fa
teachers are all more or less of educationists, and have caught by
observation or study the teacher's art. This is the cause of their

[Illustration: Decoration]



I SUMMARISE here information obtained, chiefly by observation and
conversation, from various trainers of boys' voices at cathedrals and
collegiate churches.


Some years ago I attended a practice of the boys, under the late Rev.
Thomas Helmore. It began with slow scales sung to a light pianoforte
accompaniment. These were followed by rapid runs, the key gradually
rising until the highest note touched was C above the treble staff. The
vocable used was "ah." After this came time exercises, solfeggios, the
pointing out of notes by the boys on and between the fingers of their
left hands, which represented the staff. Mr. Helmore declared that new
boys while singing nearly always (1) frown, or (2) hold their heads on
one side. He was strict about avoiding these faults. In going over the
psalms for the day, the boys sang mostly one by one, verse after verse.
This was a searching test for the boy who sang, while all the others
were actively criticising. The boys practised secular music by way of
change. Four of them were monitors, four fags, and two probationers. The
tone was refined and pure, Mr. Helmore himself being a good singer.


Here, owing to the size of the building, a tremendous volume of shrill
tone has to be cultivated, which in the practice room is sometimes
overwhelming. The practice I heard began with slow scales sung to "ah"
(pianoforte accompaniment) ranging over two octaves, C to C2; each key
between C to C1 was taken, and the scale sung ascending and descending.
This was loud singing, but not shouting. Then came agility exercises in
the form of chords, rapid scales, &c., sung still to "ah." This daily
"tuning-up" lasted ten minutes. Then (incidentally affording rest to the
boys) came a short lesson on theory. Boys were called up in turn to
write notes, signs, &c., on the blackboard. Practice now began. The boys
sing a new piece to words at once, never sol-faing. They seldom try a
piece more than three times before it is heard at the cathedral. They
sit during rehearsal, standing at the Gloria Patri. The boys have a
daily practice of an hour-and-a-half.


The refined style of the boys trained by Dr. Bridge is well known. The
abbey is small enough to allow the graces of singing to be cultivated.
In the music room there are two rows of desks facing the same way, so
that Dr. Bridge, sitting at his cottage piano, can cast a side glance
full upon the boys. Two practices are held daily; one from nine till ten
a.m. is spent in getting up the service music. The afternoon practice,
at the close of evensong, is chiefly devoted to theory. A card hanging
up on the wall shows exactly how the time of the afternoon practice is
apportioned between the study of intervals, and scales, chanting,
responses, manuscript exercises, the singing of Concone's solfeggios,
and the practice of secular music. The excellent phrasing and pure tone
are partly due to the practice of secular music, which gives elasticity
and gentleness to the boys' voices. No formal system of voice-training
is in use. The boys enter at from 9 to 10-1/2, not older. A new boy is
placed in the middle of the row of choristers, so as to excite his
imitative faculty to the utmost. Twenty boys is the full number, but
only twelve of these are full choristers, the others being nominally on
probation, a plan which serves to keep up the discipline.


There are twelve boys here. They come, with a fair knowledge of music,
at about nine years of age, and receive from Dr. Steggall, or his
assistants, three lessons of about two hours each every week. On Sunday,
at the close of the morning service, there is a rehearsal with the men
of the music for the afternoon, and for the morning of the following
Sunday. The boys' practices are held in the choir-room, where Dr.
Steggall, seated at a venerable Broadwood grand, coaches his little men,
with care and neatness. On Saturdays, when half their lesson is done,
the boys walk across to the chapel, and go through the Sunday's music
with the organ. A pupil mounts to the instrument, while Dr. Steggall,
book in hand, paces the aisle, or retires towards the communion table,
constantly interrupting the singing to correct faults, or improve
delivery. Meanwhile, the organ is played quite softly, that the voices
may stand out clearly. Constant care is taken to prevent clipping of
words in the most familiar parts of the service.


Dr. E. J. Hopkins, himself an ex-choir-boy of the Chapel Royal, realises
here his ideal of "quality, not quantity." He lays stress on the fact
that he takes his boys at eight years of age. For a year or more,
however, they are probationers. They do not wear surplices, although
they sit close to the choir. They undergo daily drill in musical theory
and voice-training, but in church they have no responsibility, and do
little more than listen. When, however, the voice of one of the elder
boys breaks, a probationer takes his place, and is much better for the
training. The practices occupy an hour-and-a-half every afternoon. They
are held in the little choir vestry, near the organ, where there is a
cottage pianoforte, flanked by a couple of long music desks, at which
the boys stand as they sing. They are taught in groups, according to the
stage they have reached, and spend the lesson time in practising scales,
voice exercises, pieces of music, and studying notation. The voices are
practised up to A. On Saturdays there is a rehearsal in the church,
with the organ and the men of the choir.


The choir here, directed by the venerable organist, Mr. J. W. M. Young,
is noted for its chanting, which all choirmasters ought to hear. Mr.
Young has made a special study of the Psalms, and changes speed and
force frequently with the change of attitude in the psalmist. The
recitation is delivered at the pace of ordinary speech, with
elocutionary pauses as needed; it is sung neither faster nor slower than
the cadence. Hence the whole effect is reverent and impressive. Mr.
Young's published Psalter and Chants (Novello) should be studied, but
the great excellence of his work can only be appreciated by a visit to
Lincoln. All compilers of Psalters make rules, but Mr. Young carries
them out. Mr. Young, who was a choir-boy at Durham more than fifty years
ago, under Henshaw, tells me that it was no uncommon thing in his day
for the boys to have three practices--8.30 to 10, 11 to 12, and 6 to 8.
This in addition to the two daily services. The elder boys had to attend
all; the younger were excused the evening practice. As far as I know, we
have no such severe training now. Mr. Young likes to get his boys at
eight; for two years, although they wear surplices, they do not sing.
The sixteen boys receive free education, and board, pocket-money, and a
present of £10 when their voices break. The younger boys are called
"choristers," and wear surplices. The four senior boys are called
"Burgersh-chanters," and wear black cassocks of a peculiar shape. In the
town they are familiarly known as "black boys." The choristers attend a
day-school with other boys who speak the Lincolnshire dialect; in this
they suffer, for, as Mr. Young says, purity of vowels and beauty of tone
go together. One of his maxims is, "use the lips as little as possible
in singing; do all you can with the tongue. If you use the lips, then
use them rapidly." The boys practise an hour-and-a-half each day. Mr.
Young puts a high finish on all his work. Mozart's "Ave Verum" was
sung on the day of my visit with infinite refinement. At one point the
boys took a portamento--a grace which very few choirmasters would
attempt with boys.


_Photographed by Mr. George Hadley, Lincoln._]


The boys rehearse in a small but lofty room. There is a double row of
desks and seats down each side, facing each other. Dr. C. H. Lloyd sits
at a small pianoforte, placed across one end of the seats, thus
commanding all the boys with his eye. The "tuning-up" exercises lasted
ten minutes, and began with this exercise to "ah":--

[Illustration: KEY C. {|d1:t.l|s.f:m.r|d:r.m|f.s:l.t|d1:-|-:-||]

This exercise, begun in C, was carried up gradually to B[b] above. It
was sung first with a _dim._ going down, and a _cres._ going up, and
then the opposite. Then came an ascending, followed by a descending
scale, similarly varied in key and expression. The next exercise was--

[Illustration: KEY C. {|d.m:r.m |d.m:r.m |d.m:r.m |d:--||]

which was transposed gradually upwards, being sung to "ah." Next a
triplet exercise--

[Illustration: KEY F. d t_1 d r d r to d1 r1 d1 t d1 t]

At the higher part the second trebles sang a third below. Then followed
the chromatic scale, up and down. Dr. Lloyd is not troubled much with
flattening; when it occurs the men are more likely to cause it than the
boys. They habitually sing the Litany, which lasts fifteen minutes,
unaccompanied, and if they flatten at all, it is not more than a
semitone. There is an unaccompanied service once a week. I noticed that
breathing-places were marked in the anthems, and notes likely to give
trouble were marked with a circle. Dr. Lloyd was by no means tied to the
pianoforte during rehearsal, and frequently left his seat, and paced up
and down, beating time while the singing went on. Theoretical questions
on the pieces in hand were addressed to individual boys. These boys are
the sons of professional men, and come from all parts of the country.
There are now three undergraduates at Christ Church, who have been
choir-boys. In the choir, on the day of my visit, was a boy of
seventeen, who had sung for nine years; his voice had not yet begun to
go. The curious custom is observed here of dividing the Psalms (between
Decani and Cantoris) at the colon, instead of at the verse. It requires
great readiness, and for those Psalms which are written in parallelisms,
it is most effective.


The boys here are divided into ten choristers and fourteen probationers.
The choristers are on the foundation, and receive a stipend; the
probationers get their schooling only. The choristers wear trencher caps
and gowns; the probationers flannel caps, bearing the arms of the
cathedral. The boys are nearly all from the city; there is no
boarding-school. The lower floor of the choir-school is used for the
ordinary instruction, which is conducted by Mr. Plant, an alto in the
cathedral choir, and the upper floor is used as a music-room. Here the
boys receive four or five lessons a week from Dr. Longhurst, and the
probationers have also a lesson by themselves. All the choristers learn
the violin; this has been the practice for many years. When, at
festivals, there is a band in the cathedral, the strings are made up
largely from old choristers, most of whom go into business in the city.
A system of rotation is adopted; thus, although there are twenty-four
boys, not more than fourteen sing at any one service, the rest are at
work at their ordinary lessons. A considerable drainage of boys takes
place to the King's School, the leading grammar school in Canterbury.
The choristers often leave to enter this school when their voices are in
their prime.

Dr. Longhurst takes the boys very young; as soon after seven as
possible. In choosing a boy, he requires both voice and ear to be good.
Sometimes a boy excels in the one direction and not in the other; he can
sing sweetly, but cannot imitate notes struck at random on the
pianoforte, or else he has a poor voice and a good ear. But both
endowments are necessary for a chorister. Dr. Longhurst, who was himself
a boy at Canterbury, had a compass at that time of two-and-a-half
octaves. As his voice changed he passed from first to second treble,
then sang alto for seven years, and at last settled to tenor. He does
not regard boy altos as desirable in cathedrals, but in parish churches,
where no adult male altos are to be had, they are, no doubt, in place.
Dr. Longhurst tells me that as a result of forty-eight years'
experience, he can tell by the look of a boy whether he will make a
chorister. There is something about the brows and eyes, and general
contour of the face which guides him. He is never mistaken. Some time
since a clergyman with whom Dr. Longhurst happened to be staying,
ridiculed the idea that the musical capability of boys can be judged by
their looks. He took Dr. Longhurst into the village school, and invited
him to pick out the boys of the choir as they sat among others at their
lessons. This Dr. Longhurst did quite correctly. He has no knowledge of
phrenology, and the faculty has come to him simply as the result of long

On the day of my visit I heard the boys practise in their lofty
music-room. Dr. Longhurst sat at the grand pianoforte, and the boys were
grouped in fours or fives round four music-stands, on which the large
folio voice parts, in type or MS., were placed. These desks stood on
either side of the piano, so that the boys looked towards Dr.
Longhurst. Not many voice exercises are used, nor is there any talk
about the registers. Pure tone is required, and the boys have not "to
reason why." Six or seven of the youngest boys took no part in the
practice of the service music. When the elder boys had done, the younger
came forward and sang some solfeggio exercises. As a help in keeping
time the boys clapped their hands sometimes at the first of the bar, and
beat the pulses of the music. In the single voice parts, with long
rests, this is a help. The boys do not sing any secular music. At one
time they did, but now, with the schooling, the ordinary practices, and
the violin lessons, there is no time. Flattening does not often occur.
As a rule, when they intone on G, the G remains to the end. The practice
of singing the service unaccompanied on Fridays all the year round, and
on Wednesdays in addition during Lent, must have a bracing effect on the
choir. I was myself present on a Wednesday in Lent, and could detect no
falling in pitch. The boys at Canterbury do not appear to receive much
formal voice-training, and I attribute the excellent quality of their
singing to two facts. First, Dr. Longhurst has evidently a knack of
discerning a promising voice; and second, having established a tradition
of good singing, the boys, entering at an early age, insensibly fall
into it.


I have gathered from Mr. A. R. Gaul, Mus.B., of Birmingham, some
particulars of the work of Dr. Buck, organist of Norwich Cathedral, who
was known forty or fifty years ago all over the country as a trainer of
boys' voices. Mr. Gaul was a boy at Norwich under Dr. Buck, and
underwent the Spartan training which produced such notable results. "No
chest voice above F or G" was his rule, and the flute-like voice, which
goes by so many names, and is yet so unmistakable when heard, was
developed in all the choristers. Dr. Buck had an endless number of
contrivances for teaching his boys right ways. Each of them carried
about him a pocket looking-glass, and at practice was taught to hold it
in his hand, and watch his mouth as he sang. One finger on top of the
other was the gauge for opening the mouth transversely, while nuts were
held in the cheeks to secure its proper longitudinal opening. To look at
the boys during this exercise, one might think they had the face-ache!
However, no joking over these matters was allowed; there was a penny
fine for forgetting the looking-glass once, and a twopenny fine for
forgetting it a second time. To prevent the use of too much breath in
singing, Dr. Buck would take a piece of tissue paper, the size of a
postage stamp, hang it by a fine thread in front of the mouth, and make
the boys sing to it without blowing it away. Tongue-drill consisted in
regular motions of the unruly member, until the boys were able to make
it lie flat down at the bottom of the mouth, and raise it to the upper
teeth as required. It was a daily plan to practise certain passages with
the lips entirely closed, this was done to prevent the objectionable
quality of voice resulting from any stoppage of the nasal organs. There
was no sol-faing; various words were used at scale-practice, chosen to
develop the vowels, while a code of troublesome words and endings of
words was drawn up, and repeated daily by the boys in the
speaking-voice, so as to secure clear enunciation. I have more than once
seen and heard it stated that Dr. Buck used to make his boys sing
through the nose, with closed mouth, in order to get the higher
register, but Mr. Gaul does not remember this. Dr. Haydn Keeton informs
me that they had boy-altos at Norwich in Dr. Buck's time, so that he
must have had more boys than usual to train.


A conversation with Mr. C. L. South, the organist and choirmaster, shows
him to be a careful and able worker. The boys, who are boarded in the
choir school, come from various parts. They are received at from 8 to 11
years; not over 11 unless the boy is very good and forward in music. The
boys are chosen for their voices, but given two boys of equal voices,
the one who knows most music would be selected. The music practice is an
hour a day for five days of the week, under Mr. South himself. "I
recognise," he says, "two registers in boys' voices, chest and head, and
with careful practice you can get the voices so even that you can hardly
tell where one ends and the other begins. The great thing, I believe, is
to make the boys sing softly, and to get their register even
throughout." Mr. South adds that the imitative power of boys is so
strong that the younger ones fall into the habits of the elder ones, and
thus make formal teaching about the registers less necessary. For vocal
practice he uses Stainer's and Concone's Exercises, also solos like
"Jesus, Saviour, I am Thine," and "Let the Saviour's outstretched arm"
(both from Bach's _Passion_), as well as Handel's "Rejoice greatly,"
besides florid choruses from the _Messiah_. These are more interesting
than formal studies, and they bring out the same points of breathing,
phrasing, pronunciation, and expression. He sometimes introduces a song
of this kind into the service as an anthem. On one occasion, when
thirteen boys had sung one of the Bach songs in unison, a member of the
congregation asked the name of the soloist. The voices were so perfectly
blended that they sounded like one. The full number of boys is eighteen,
of whom two at least sing solos. Mr. South does not use nor like boy
altos. The service music is selected on eclectic principles, and covers
the ground from Gibbons to Villiers Stanford. The boys sometimes give
concerts, performing such cantatas as Smart's _King Rene's Daughter_,
and Mendelssohn's "Two-part Songs."

[Illustration: Decoration]



In the course of journeys and interviews extending over many years I
have gathered much experience from choirmasters, and have watched and
noted their plans. Here follow some of the results of this work. The
churches described are some of them small, and but little known. This
fact, however, does not affect the value of the experience. The highest
degree of credit is due to the choirmaster who obtains good results from
poor materials, and this book is especially intended to help those who
have to make the best of ordinary opportunities.


This church has long been noted for its music, which is sung in
cathedral style. There are about thirty boys, whose voices, even up to
A, are round and clear, and throughout are big, true, and rich. Notable
features of the style of the choir under Dr. Creser, are the long _dim_.
cadences in responses, and the independence which enables the singers to
go on without the organ, if the expression suggests it. At the rehearsal
in the parochial room Dr. Creser sits at the grand piano with the boys
in their cantoris and decani places on each side of him just as in
church. The boys rehearse five days a week after evensong, and the
juniors have an additional practice. After Saturday evensong there is a
full practice with the men. All the boys are trebles. Yorkshire is about
the only district in England which produces adult male altos. The boys
are chiefly promoted from district churches. They live at their homes,
and receive a free education--the seniors in the Leeds middle-class
school, and the juniors in the parish church school. There is also a
small salary paid quarterly, and when a boy leaves he receives from £15
to £25 if an ordinary chorister, and £50 if a good solo boy. Fines are
imposed by the precentor for misbehaviour or mischievous tricks in
church or precincts, but not for mistakes in singing. Dr. Creser teaches
sight-singing on the lines of Curwen's "How to Read Music." The boys use
the old notation, but have learnt it through Tonic Sol-fa, using the
course entitled "Crotchets and Quavers." Occasionally the whole
rehearsal consists of sol-faing. In every difficulty as to key
relationship the Sol-fa makes matters clear. Dr. Creser was first led to
use Tonic Sol-fa by noticing how easy it made the minor mode. The junior
boys are always taught by Dr. Creser. Until the voices settle he would
on no account delegate them to an assistant. The two chief rules of
voice-training are to forbid forcing the chest register above
[Illustration: a music staff with a treble clef and a whole note "E" on
the first line.] and to begin scales at the top. Flattening takes place
occasionally, but it is nearly always the fault of the congregation, who
drag the pitch down. The arrangement of the music-library here is a
model of order.


Here, under the direction of Mr. de Manby Sergison, a very fine Anglican
service is maintained. There are twenty boys, and a few probationers.
The boys have an hour's practice every day, and sing the Psalms and a
hymn at the daily choral service. Formerly a choir boarding-school was
kept up, but this was abolished, being found to be too expensive. Now
the boys are selected from schools in and near the parish, and Mr.
Sergison finds the ordinary London boy equal to all the demands of the
church. When the choir-school was given up he was able within a month to
prepare an entirely new set of boys, so proficient that the congregation
scarcely noticed a difference. The vocal practice of the boys includes
"Concone's Exercises," and their phrasing in the service music is very
good. The full choir sings on Sundays and Saints' Days, and their
rehearsal takes place once a week in the church, Mr. Sergison being at
the organ. In the chapter on the management of choir-boys I have quoted
some wise remarks by Mr. Sergison, which explain his success as a


This is a Training College for schoolmasters, which has long been noted
for its musical services. Mr. Owen Breden, the present organist and
choirmaster, is the successor of Dr. Hullah, Mr. May, and the Rev. F.
Helmore. The choir-boys, who number 26, only sing on Sundays. They are
drawn from the practicing school, which contains 800 boys. They enter
the choir at nine years of age, and there are always six or eight
probationers, who attend the practices and are ready to fill vacancies.
Thus a good style of singing is maintained. People say to Mr. Breden,
"There is no telling one voice from another, your boys are so much
alike." At the bi-weekly practice with Mr. Breden the boys have
voice-training. They sing to _la_ and sol-fa syllables scales gradually
rising. They are not trained above G, but if a boy has a good G he can
always go higher. The boys can all read from the Sol-fa modulator, and
Mr. Breden gives them ear-tests. The alto part is taken entirely by boys
at St. Mark's. The choir-boys, past and present, perform an operetta in
costume every Christmas. Anthems like Macfarren's "The Lord is my
Shepherd," Bennett's "God is a Spirit," Goss's "O Saviour of the world,"
&c., are sung unaccompanied. In fact, whenever the organ part merely
duplicates the voices, they take the opportunity at St. Mark's to enjoy
the pure chording of human voices.


My friend, Herr Th. Krause, the organist and choirmaster of this church,
allowed me to attend a rehearsal of the eighty boys and twenty men who
form his fine choir. The large number of boys is explained by the fact
that nearly half of them are altos. The motet of the Lutheran church is
invariably unaccompanied. It closely resembles in form our anthem, but
the German Protestants look upon the _a capella_ style, which continues
the tradition of the Sistine Chapel at Rome, as the purest and highest
in church music. On no account would they use the organ to accompany a
motet. This gives rise to elaborate compositions, often like
Mendelssohn's "Judge me, O God," in eight parts. By treating the boys
and men as separate choirs, each in four parts, and getting responses
between them, a variety of tone colour, which is almost orchestral, is
obtained; and when both choirs unite in solid eight-part harmony, the
result is imposing. As the Germans are usually not sight-singers, the
labour involved in learning these motets is immense. The higher register
of the boys is well trained. They sing up to B flat without effort, and
with purest tone. The same may be said of the Dom Choir, for which
Mendelssohn wrote his motets. At my last visit to Leipzig, I carried an
introduction to Dr. Rust, trainer of the Thomas Church choir, but I was
there just after Whitsuntide, when the yearly shifting of classes had
just taken place, and Dr. Rust, who wished me to hear his boys at their
best, asked me not to come to a rehearsal. Speaking generally, the
voices of German boys are thinner than those of English boys, more like
fifes than flutes.


The choirmaster here, Mr. F. J. Knapp, is also master of the parish day
school. Here he insists on quiet singing, and stops coarseness directly.
The boys are taught on the Tonic Sol-fa system, which, says Mr. Knapp,
has alone enabled him to produce his results. Some time ago at St.
Stephens, Walworth, he was called upon to produce a choir in a week, and
he did this, by nightly rehearsals, to the satisfaction of everyone.
Complete oratorios, with band, were frequently given by this choir of
sol-faists. At St. Clement Danes he had to produce a choir in five days,
and here again he succeeded by the use of Tonic Sol-fa. "Our
choir-boys," he says, "can now sing at sight almost anything I put
before them. We never have more than two or three practices (one only,
full) for the most difficult anthems we do. There is an anthem every
Sunday, a choral communion once a month, offertory sentences on
alternate Sundays, cantatas and oratorios at Festivals." Mr. Knapp
adopts the useful plan of "tuning-up" his boys before the morning
service. Flattening, when it occurs, is due, he considers, to damp
weather, a cold church, &c. But he is rarely troubled with it. The boys'
voice exercises are taken at the harmonium, first slow notes to
"koo-ah," or to "oo-ay-ah-ee," or to a sentence containing consonants.
This exercise is done both ascending and descending, but especially
descending. He also uses the chromatic scale from B flat up to
F:--[Illustration: A music staff with a treble clef on the left. Two
quarter notes: B flat below the staff and F on the top line.] He tells
the boys nothing about the registers, but watches constantly against


This (Protestant) choir of men and boys is well-known in Germany, and
not only sings at Salzungen, but occasionally makes tours, and gives
concerts. Herr Mühlfeld, the trainer, tells me that he takes the boys
from 11 years of age upwards, and that before entering the choir they
have a fair knowledge of notes, and can sing at sight. The voices are
examined on entry, low ones being put to sing alto, and high ones being
put to sing soprano. The boys have two lessons of an hour each per week,
in which they practise exercises, _choräle_, school songs, and church
music. Flattening, according to Herr Mühlfeld, is due to (1) bad ear,
(2) imperfect training, (3) fatigue of the voice. The boys are taught to
listen to each note that they sing, and to make it blend with the
instrument or the leading voice. In order to do this they must sing
softly, and thus hear their neighbours' voices. The 3rd, 6th, 7th, and
8th tones of the scale are, says Herr Mühlfeld, often sung flat, and
exercises should be specially given to secure the intonation of these
sounds. The boys must also learn the intervals, and whenever they appear
to be tired a pause must be made.


This is not a church, but a boys' school, from which a good many
choristers are drawn, and where excellent results have been obtained.
The boys have often won prizes in choral competitions. Mr. H. A. Donald,
the headmaster, tells me that he examines the voices of the boys one by
one in his own room, once a year. Those who can take G and A
[Illustration: musical notation] sweetly and easily are put down as
first trebles. Those who can go below C [Illustration: musical notation]
are altos. The rest are second trebles. He finds that after a year a
boy's voice will often have changed--a treble become an alto, or vice
versa. In modulator practice, and as far as possible in pieces of music,
he keeps the trebles above [Illustration: musical notation]. Below this
they get coarse. He never gives on the modulator an ascending passage
which begins below this G. One may leap up, and come down by step, but
not ascend by step. He uses Mr. Proudman's "Voice-training Exercises"
(J. Curwen & Sons) for first trebles, and his contralto exercises for
contraltos. Coarseness he checks at once, and he silences boys whose
voices are breaking.

[Illustration: Decoration]



How is the alto part, in a church choir consisting of males, to be sung?
In our cathedrals this part has been given, ever since the Restoration,
to adult men, generally with bass voices singing in their "thin"
register. For this voice our composers of the English cathedral school
wrote, carrying the part much lower than they would have done if they
had been writing for women or boy-singers. For this voice, also, Handel
wrote, and the listener at the Handel Festival cannot but feel the
strength and resonance which the large number of men altos give to the
harmony when the range of the part is low. The voice of the man alto,
however, was never common, and is becoming less common than it was. It
occupies a curious position, never having been recognised as a solo
voice. I have heard of an exceptionally good man alto at Birmingham who
was accustomed to sing songs at concerts, but this is an isolated case.
The voice seems to have been generally confined to choral music.

This voice is entirely an English institution, unknown on the continent.
Historians say that after the Restoration, when it was very difficult to
obtain choir-boys, adult men learned to sing alto, and even low treble
parts, in falsetto, in order to make harmony possible.

Let us concede at once that for music of the old cathedral school this
voice is in place. The churches are, however, getting more and more
eclectic, and are singing music from oratorios, cantatas, and masses
that was composed for women altos, and is far too high in compass for
men. We may admit that because the alto part lies so much upon the break
into the thick or chest register of boys, it is very difficult to get
them to sing it well. The dilemma is that in parish churches, especially
in country places, the adult male alto is not to be had, and the choice
is between boy altos, and no altos at all.

There is no doubt, moreover, that the trouble of voice-management in boy
altos can be conquered by watchfulness and care. At the present time
there are, as the information I have collected shows, a number of very
good cathedral and church choirs in which the alto part is being
sustained by boys.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following is from Mr. James Taylor, organist and choirmaster of New
College, Oxford:--

"New College, Oxford, _Dec._ 13, 1890.

"Dear Sir,--In reply to your letter, I can confidently recommend boy
altos in parish or other choirs, provided they are carefully trained. We
have introduced them into this choir for more than two years, and the
experiment has fully come up to my expectations. We still retain two men
altos in our choir, which now consists of the following:--Fourteen
trebles, four boy altos, two men altos, four tenors, and four basses. I
find boy altos very effective in _modern_ church music, such as
Mendelssohn's anthems, &c., where the alto part is written much higher
than is the case in the old cathedral music.

"Yours very truly,


Dr. Garrett, organist of St. John's College, Cambridge, writes:--

"5, Park Side, Cambridge, _Dec._ 12, 1890.

"Dear Mr. Curwen,--I have had boy altos only in my choir for some years.
I introduced them of necessity in the first instance. The stipend of a
lay clerk was too small to attract any other than a local candidate, and
no suitable man was to be found. If I could have really first-class
adult altos in my choir I should not think of using boys' voices. At the
same time there are some advantages on the side of boys' voices.

"I. Unless the adult alto voice is really pure and good, and its
possessor a skilled singer, it is too often unbearable.

"II. Under the most favourable conditions it is very rare, according to
my experience, to find an alto voice retaining its best qualities after
middle age.

"III. The alto voice is undoubtedly becoming rare.

"On the other side you have to consider:--

"I. The limitation of choice in music, as there is a good deal of
'cathedral music' in which the alto part is beyond the range of any
boy's voice.

"II. A certain lack of _brightness_ in the upper part of such trios as
those in 'By the waters of Babylon' (Boyce) 'The wilderness' (Goss), and
many like movements.

"As regards the break question, the advantage, in my experience, is
wholly on the boys' side. A well-trained boy will sing such a solo as 'O
thou that tellest,' or such a passage as the following without letting
his break be felt at all:

[Illustration: For Thou hast been my hope, hast been my hope.]

This passage,[B] which is from the anthem, 'Hear my crying,' by Weldon,
I have heard sung by an adult alto, who broke badly between E flat and
F. The effect was funny beyond description. In fact, if a boys' break is
about C or D (3rd space or 4th line), and he [Illustration: musical
notation] is never allowed to practise above that, there will be no
question of break arising. My alto boys can get a good round G, and five
out of the six can go up without break to C. [Illustration: musical
notation] The advantage of this in chanting the Psalms is obvious. What
can an adult alto be expected to do in a case where the reciting note is
close to his break? These are considerations which may fairly be taken
into account even when the decision is to be made between _possible_
courses; when there _is_ a choice. In many cases there is none. It must
be (as you say) boy alto, or no alto. I am quite sure that careful
training is all that is needed to make boy altos most efficient members
of a choir. Or rather, I ought to say that careful selection and
training are both needed. To take a young boy as an alto because he
happens to have three or four raucous notes from, say, B flat to E flat
[Illustration: musical notation] while he has a bad break between E flat
[Illustration: musical notation] and F is, of course, to court failure.
I prefer taking a boy whose break lies higher, and training his voice
downwards. If, as a probationer, he can get a fairly good round B
natural [Illustration: musical notation] or B flat; lower notes can
certainly be produced as he grows older.]

"Yours very truly,


[B] I have transposed the passage from the alto clef.--J. S. C.

       *       *       *       *       *

A remark may be interposed here that from a physiological point of view
we must expect voices of different pitch in boys, just as in girls,
women, and men. Boys differ in height, size, and in the pitch of the
speaking voice, which is a sure guide to the pitch of the singing voice.
There is thus no physiological ground for supposing all boys to be

       *       *       *       *       *

The following letter is from the Rev. W. E. Dickson, Precentor of Ely:--

"The College, Ely, _October 30th_, 1890.

"_Dear Sir_,--I have much pleasure in replying to your note. If I
resolved to do so in a few words I should be obliged to say that seldom
indeed do I hear boy altos sing with sweet voices and true intonation,
either in my own country, or in those foreign countries in which I am in
the habit of taking my holidays.

"But I should like to be allowed to explain that, in my opinion, the
coarseness (at any rate) of boy-altos in English choirs is due to
mismanagement by the choirmaster. His usual plan is to turn over to the
alto part boys who are losing their upper notes by the natural failure
of their soprano voices. This saves trouble, for such boys probably
read music well enough, and they are simply told to 'sing alto,' and are
left to do so without further training, until they can croak out no more
ugly noises. Surely this is quite a mistake. Am I not right in
maintaining that a perfect choir should consist of



well balanced as to numbers, and all singing with pure natural quality?
If I am, then it follows that the second trebles should be precisely
equal to the firsts in number and strength, and should include boys of
various ages, as carefully selected and as assiduously trained as the
others. I cannot but think--and, indeed, I perfectly well know--that
where this has been done by a skilful teacher, whose heart is in his
work, boy altos have been made to sing with sweetness and accuracy.

"You will probably agree with me--though this is quite by the way--that
secular music should be largely used by such a teacher. The part-songs
of Mendelssohn, for instance, should be trolled out by the two sets of
boys, who may even interchange their parts at practice with the best
results. But of course this is said only in reference to choirs of a
high class.

"I do not deny that even the best teaching and the best management will
not secure quite the same _timbre_ which you get in choirs with falsetti
in the alto part. A certain silvery sweetness is obtained from these
voices to which our English ears have become accustomed, and which we
should miss if boys, however well-trained, took their places. In the
Preces, Versicles, Litany, &c., of the English Choral Service, we should
be conscious of a loss. In cathedrals, too, the complete shelving of
some or even many compositions, favourites by long association, if not
by intrinsic merit, would be inevitable. But I am unable to doubt for a
moment that when the change had been made, and time had been given for
the new order of things, under a thoroughly competent musician, we
should not regret it.

"At Ely we have ten men in daily attendance; fourteen on Sundays. We
keep twenty boys in training. If this vocal body were thus

    10 FIRST TREBLES    5 TENORS (6 on Sunday)

    10 SECOND TREBLES    5 BASSES (8 on Sunday)

we should certainly be stronger and healthier in tone and quality than
we are now, with a disproportionate number of trebles, thus:--

    20 TREBLES     3 [4] TENORS

    3 [4] ALTOS     4 [6] BASSES

As to rustic choirs in village churches, I fear the case is hopeless,
and I myself should be glad to see editions of well-known hymn-tunes and
chants in three parts only--treble, tenor, and bass. Handel wrote some
truly grand choruses in three parts in his 'Chandos Anthems.' But his
tenor part is not for every-day voices!

"Believe me, truly yours,


       *       *       *       *       *

The following, from Dr. Haydn Keeton, organist of Peterborough
Cathedral, is against boy altos:--

"Thorpe Road, Peterborough, _December 12th, 1890_.

"Dear Sir,--I have had about eighteen years' experience with alto boys,
and although I have had some exceedingly good ones, one or two as good
as it is possible, I think, to have, yet I must say that, in my opinion,
it is a bad system to substitute boys for men, especially in cathedral
music. The reason why the change was made here was that about the year
1872 three of our men altos were failing, and I happened to have three
boys with good low voices, who took alto well. In consenting to this
change I had no idea of its being a permanent one, but owing to the
agricultural depression our Chapter have been quite prevented doing what
they would like to do with the choir. The general effect of the change
has been this--that I have been always weak in trebles. We are limited
to Peterborough for our choristers, and, as a rule, there is not one boy
in a hundred who knows even his notes when he enters the choir. It
takes from eighteen months to two years for a boy to learn his work, and
it is not until a boy is at least twelve that one can turn him into an
alto. The result is that four of my senior boys have to be turned into
altos, and I am left with a preponderance of young, inexperienced boys
as trebles. At the present time I have twelve trebles, eight of whom are
quite young.

"In addition, see what extra work is involved in teaching the boys to
sing alto. Some boys do not take to alto very easily, and the extra work
given to the altos means that quantity taken from the trebles. I am
unable, in consequence, to give the necessary time to the elementary
work that one ought to give. We can only get one hour's practice in the
day, owing to the boys going to school.

"Then, again, as to tone. The tone of a choir with men altos, if they
are at all fairly good, is so much superior to one with boy altos. In
cathedral music so many anthems and services have trios for A.T.B. There
is not one boy in a thousand who can sing the trio in 'O where shall
wisdom' (Boyce) with a tenor and bass effectively. And how many there
are similar to that!

"I do not see how boys could work at all in ordinary parish choirs, for
here there are not the opportunities of teaching boys to read well at
sight. It is only by daily practice that one can make anything of boys.

"Yours faithfully,

Dr. Frank Bates, organist of Norwich Cathedral, has favoured me with a
copy of a paper on the boy's voice, in which he says:--

"The compass of a boy's voice when properly developed is from

[Illustration: C to A B[b] or C]

The chest or lower register extends from

[Illustration: C to C or D]

The head or upper register extends from

[Illustration: C or D to B[b] or C]

No fixed compass can possibly be given to the different registers, as
the older a boy becomes the lower the change occurs; the head register
often being used as low down as A."

[Illustration: musical notation]

In a letter to me Dr. Bates says:--

"I quite think that, for ordinary parish church services, the effect of
boy altos, if properly taught, is all that one can desire."

In reply to my remark that the break comes in so awkwardly for boy
altos, Dr. Bates says:--

"I fail to understand the reason you quote for the non-usage of boy
altos. There is no change whatever in a boy's voice, _in its normal
state_, until [Illustration: musical notation] is reached. If the change
is made lower down all the brilliancy is taken out of a boy's voice. As
a boy gets older he uses the upper register much lower down. I have
known boys at the age of eighteen with lovely top notes but very poor
chest register. In such cases, when a boy's top register commences at
[Illustration: G] I can quite understand the difficulty."

There is evidently some conflict of nomenclature here, as the limits of
the registers as given by Dr. Bates differ considerably from those which
are usual. I am glad to learn that Dr. Bates is writing a book on "The
Voices of Boys," which will no doubt clear up the subject. In the paper
before me he recommends practice of the scales to such syllables as La,
Fa, Ta, Pa, in order to bring the tone well to the front of the mouth,
and reinforce it by means of the soft upper palate. He recommends the
teacher to train the boys to use the upper register by making them sing
over and over again, _very softly_, the following notes:--

[Illustration: Chest Head Ah....]

Here again the transition seems to me to be taken much too high.

Mr. Frank Sharp, of Dundee, trainer of the celebrated children's choir,
which has sung the treble and alto parts, both solos and choruses, of
_Messiah, St. Paul_, and many cantatas, writes to me:--

"In part-singing where there are boy trebles, the adult male alto voice
has its charms. The contrast in quality between the open tone of the
boys' voices and the condensed, sometimes squeaky sweetness of the man
alto does not affect the blending, and helps the distinctness of parts.
Considering the growing scarcity of this latter voice, why not use boy
altos? They can be made as effective as ordinary women altos, but they
are as short-lived and need more attention than the boy trebles. Their
chief drawback is a tendency to produce tone without the least attention
to quality or effect save that of noise. Nevertheless, there is nothing
to hinder boy altos doing all that is necessary, or, indeed, all that
can be done by the adult male alto. I have trained boys to sing alto in
_Messiah_, _St. Paul_, and equally trying music, during the past twenty
years, and anyone else who keeps the girl's alto voice before him as a
model can do the same. The boy alto voice may be said to have a husk and
a kernel: the one strident, harsh, and overpowering; the other sweet,
and, with use, rich and round. The average healthy boy, with his
exuberant love of noise, will naturally give the husk, but the skilful
voice-trainer will only accept the kernel, evolved from right register,
good _timbre_, and proper production. Seeing and hearing a process in
voice-training is, however, more satisfactory than much writing and the
reading thereof."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. W. W. Pearson, master of a village school in Norfolk, who is
well-known by his excellent part-songs, writes to me:--

"I succeed very well in getting boys to sing alto because I always use a
large number of exercises in two parts, making each division of the
class in turn take the lower part. I do not choose boys for altos on
account of age. That, in my opinion, has nothing to do with it. I choose
them by quality of voice. There is no break in the voice of the natural
alto between]--[Illustration: G and C] I find altos out generally when
they are novices, by hearing them trying to sing with the others, and
dropping down an octave in high passages."

       *       *       *       *       *

The following interesting notes are by Mr. W. Critchley, organist,
choirmaster, and schoolmaster in the village of Hurst, near Reading:--

"I do not choose the elder boys as altos, as I find that treble boys, as
a rule, are at their very best just before the change of voice. And
moreover, when that change begins, the voice is so uncertain in its
intonation that if the boy were put to sing alto he would be certain to
drag the others down. At present I have one or two boys with round,
mellow voices, who are very effective. Unfortunately, most of the alto
parts in hymn-tunes and chants hover about the place where the break in
the voice occurs, and it requires a lot of practice to conquer the
difficulty. As a rule, I get the alto boys to sing in the lower
register. It is very seldom they get a note which they cannot take in
this register, so I train it up a little, thus--

[Illustration: KEYS B to F[#].

d_1 t_2 l_2 t_2 d_1 r_1 m_1]

I do not see any other way of getting over the uncertainty in the boy
alto voice. It is merely a matter of time and trouble."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. J. C. E. Taylor, choirmaster of St. Mary's, Penzance, and
head-master of the National School, says:--

"I have had one or two pure alto voices, and these are the best, but
very rare. Good voices of trebles unable to take [Illustration: musical
notation] (D) have often become fair alto voices, and my present solo
alto boy is one of these. The trios in the anthems are taken by boy
alto, tenor, and bass. These alto boys are practised from lower G to
C--[Illustration: musical notation] up and down, minding their _p's_ and
_f's_. My trebles, as a rule, last until fifteen years of age, and altos
until sixteen, and even seventeen."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. A. Isaac, choirmaster of a church in Liverpool, says:--

"For the last twenty years I have been continuously engaged with male
voice choirs in connection with churches too poor to pay for adult help,
and, as you may readily guess, I have never yet had the good fortune to
secure, for any length, the services of gentlemen who could sing
falsetto effectively. I have had, therefore, to rely solely upon my boys
for the alto part. At the present time my choir, which is allowed to be
up to the mark amongst local Liverpool churches, is made up of 22 boys
(18 treble and 4 alto) paid, and 14 adults (5 tenors and 9 basses)
voluntary. There is, I find, no royal road to the alto part. My course
is as follows. I obtain my boys as soon as they are eleven, by which age
they have been made fairly familiar at my school with the old notation
on the movable _do_ plan. Theoretical instruction is continued side by
side with special voice-training exercises. Occasionally I meet with a
boy who has a true mezzo-soprano voice, and he is a treasure, but in the
main my selections are boys with treble voices. As soon as a treble
shows signs of voice breaking, I let him down into the alto part. The
transition is not very difficult, for by this time the boy has become a
fairly good Sol-faist and reader. I have but to adapt the voice-training
exercises to him in company with his fellows, and I have no reason to
regret the issue. I take my boys always together, with two-part

Mr. Stocks Hammond, organist and choirmaster of St. Barnabas, Bradford,
in a published paper on "Boys' Voices," says:--

"During many years of choir training, I have experienced very great
difficulty in supplying the alto parts with _good_ men's falsetto voices
(especially in voluntary choirs), and I have therefore been compelled to
have that part sung by boys, and experience leads me to prefer the boys'
voices to men's, unless, indeed, they are real alto voices, which are
seldom to be met with. I have never yet had any great difficulty in
finding boys' voices capable of sustaining that part, and can always
fill up any gaps that occur by the following means. Whenever I find a
treble begins to experience a difficulty in singing the upper notes, and
that in order to sing them he must strain his voice, immediately he is
put to sing alto, which he is in most cases able to do for one or two
years, and during that time he is thus retained as a useful member of
the choir; for otherwise he would very soon have been lost to it
entirely, for nothing hastens so much the breaking of the voice as the
habit of unduly straining it."

Mr. T. H. Collinson, Mus.B., organist of St. Mary's Cathedral,
Edinburgh, writes to me:--

"Boy altos are a fraud and a deception, as a rule, though occasionally
one meets with a natural contralto at an early age. Even then he can
generally be worked up to treble by gentle treatment, developing the
middle and falsetto registers."

       *       *       *       *       *

In order to get to the bottom of this subject, I invited correspondence
in the _Musical Standard_ (until recently the organ of the College of
Organists), and several interesting letters were the result. Mr. R. T.
Gibbons, F.C.O., organist of the Grocers' Company's Schools, where
excellent performances of operettas are given, wrote:--

"As soon as a boy's voice reaches only E[b] he is drafted into the
altos, and that preserves his voice much longer."

To this statement Mr. Fred. Cambridge, organist of Croydon Parish
Church, took exception. He said:--

"I do not wish to appear to dogmatise, but I should say 'as soon as a
boy's voice reaches only E[b],' it is quite time he left off singing
altogether, _i.e._, if his voice has previously been a treble. I know it
is the custom in some choirs to make a boy sing alto as soon as his
voice begins to break. In my opinion, such a course is utterly wrong. It
is not only injurious to the boy's voice, but very unpleasant for those
who have to listen to it.

"In a school of 500 boys, there ought to be no difficulty in finding
sufficient natural altos, without having to rely on broken-voiced

"In my own choir I frequently admit altos at 10 or 11 years of age, with
the result that I get five or six years' work out of them, and the
latter part of their time they are available for alto solos.

"I think (and I speak from upwards of 30 years' experience) that if Mr.
Gibbons will try this plan, he will find it much more satisfactory than
drafting his trebles into the altos as soon as their voices begin to

"I do not enter into the question of men _versus_ boy altos, because it
is my experience that in a voluntary choir, especially in the country, a
really _good_ adult alto is such a _rara avis_, that one is obliged to
rely on boys, and if they are carefully chosen and trained, they are, I
think, quite satisfactory. The only place when one misses the man alto
voice is in anthems with a verse for A.T.B., such as 'Rejoice in the
Lord' (Purcell), 'The Wilderness' (Goss), &c."

Mr. C. E. Juleff, organist of Bodmin Parish Church, wrote:--

"Allow me to say that I have found men altos infinitely preferable to
those of boys. In short, one good man alto I have experienced to be
equal to half-a-dozen boy altos as regards tone; and in respect to
phrasing and reading I have found men altos decidedly superior. The two
gentlemen altos who were in my choir at SS. Michael and All Angels,
Exeter, were acknowledged by London organists to be 'second to none' in
the provinces."

       *       *       *       *       *

On the other hand, Mr. Thomas Ely, F.C.O., of St. John's College,
Leatherhead, gave a warm testimony to boy altos:--

"I may say that in my choir at this College I have four or five very
good boy altos. One is exceptionally good, possessing a natural alto
voice of remarkable richness and beauty. In our services and anthems he
takes the solo alto parts, and in my opinion he is far superior to a man
alto, except in such anthems as Wesley's 'Ascribe unto the Lord'
(expressly written for choirs possessing men altos), in which he cannot
take some of the lower notes. The compass of his voice is from F to

       *       *       *       *       *

In these letters and experiences there are evidently two underlying
ideas. First, that the boy alto has a naturally low voice; second, that
the boy alto is a broken-down soprano. For both these notions there is
some physical foundation, because there is no doubt that the lower notes
of boys of 12 to 14 are rounder and fuller than those of boys of 9 to
12. Herr Eglinger, of Basel, to whose mastery of the subject in theory
and practice I can testify, from personal intercourse, distinctly
recognises this. He says:--

"It is only when boys and girls approach the period of change, say a
year or two before the voice begins to break, that a clear chest-voice,
corresponding to that of women, is perceptible. In boys at this stage,
the head-voice rapidly declines in volume and height; and what there is
of middle register is not much, nor of great service much longer. On the
other hand, the chest-tones acquire a resonance, and in boys a certain
gruffness, which, mixed with other voices, imparts a peculiar charm to
the chorus."

Thus although here and there a boy may be found with a naturally low
voice from the first, the majority of altos will be obtained from older
boys, who are approaching the period of change. It is, however, of much
importance to watch these boys, and stop their singing when their voice
really gives way, because it then becomes uncertain in its intonation,
and is apt to spoil the tuning of the choir.

       *       *       *       *       *

The idea that boys must not use the thick or chest register is also a
mistake. It is the straining of this register, which produces a hard,
rattling sound, that is objectionable. Boy altos have as much right to
use the chest register, in its proper place and with proper reserve of
power, as women altos.

[Illustration: Decoration]



Music is now recognised as one of the professions, taking its place by
the side of Law, Medicine, and Divinity. Parents who have boys to start
in life look for avenues of entrance to these various occupations. And
there can be no doubt that to be a chorister-boy is one of the very best
ways of serving an apprenticeship to music. Hear what the late Sir
George Macfarren says on the subject:--

"A cathedral choir is the best cradle for a musician our country
affords. I say this from the conviction, many times confirmed, that, as
an average, by very far the best practical musicians, those I mean whose
musical readiness gives them the air of having music as an instinct or
of second nature, those who are ever prompt with their talent to produce
or to perform without preparation at the requirement of the moment;
those whose ears are quick, whose wits are sharp, and whose utmost
ability is ever at their fingers' ends--are they who have passed their
art infancy in one of our ecclesiastical arenas for constant practice.
The very early habit of hearing and performing music stimulates the
musical sense, and gives musical tendency to all the youthfully supple
faculties which bear upon the use of this sense. The habit in almost
first childhood of associating sight with sound, written characters with
uttered notes, the office of the eye with that of the ear or of the
voice, which is the ear's agent, does more in favourable cases to
develop some of the best essentials in an artist, than can be
accomplished by the unremitting study of after life. I say this
feelingly: I had not the advantage to which I refer, but I observe its
influence upon the majority of others whose talent claims my best

These words put the case with emphasis and truth. A list of former choir
boys in the musical profession, if it could be compiled, would afford
further evidence in this matter. Among composers the list would include
Arthur Sullivan, Alfred Cellier, John Stainer, and Alfred Gaul; among
singers, Edward Lloyd and Joseph Maas, while the ranks of the teaching
profession are largely recruited from this source. "Literature," says
Mr. Herkomer, "does not help art much. Art is learnt by doing." You
cannot become a musician by reading the matter up, or listening to
lectures. Musicianship is imparted more after the style of a moral than
of an intellectual power--like good breeding rather than like

A striking proof of the fact that the chorister boy gravitates easily
into the musical profession, and makes his mark there, is afforded by
the history of Rochester Cathedral boys. These include the late Mr.
Joseph Maas, the tenor singer, and the following organists of
cathedrals, all of whom are living:--Dr. Armes (Durham), Dr. Crow
(Ripon), Dr. Bridge (Westminster), Dr. J. C. Bridge (Chester), and Mr.
Wood (Exeter).

These facts make parents anxious for information as to how to get their
sons into church and cathedral choirs. Enquiries of this kind are
constantly reaching me. I have therefore thought it well to add to the
completeness of this work by collecting information from all available
sources, and I have to express my thanks to the Rev. Precentors who have
so readily responded to my circular of appeal.

The result is in some respects disappointing. Choir _boarding_ schools
are not numerous, and are not increasing in number. The agricultural
depression has reduced the revenues of cathedrals and colleges, and they
are likely in the future to seek out cheaper rather than more expensive
modes of working. A few town churches which place music in the front,
have started boarding schools, but, as a rule, the choristers live in
their homes. I have no desire for these boarding schools in the
abstract. I question if the boys get more musical education by living
together than they do by coming for it day by day. But the boarding
school affords the only opportunity for parents who do not live in a
cathedral town to get their boys educated as choristers. The day schools
suit the townspeople well enough, and here and there a boy from a
distance may board with relatives or friends and get into the choir, but
this is exceptional.

I now give the results of my enquiries.


WORCESTER CATHEDRAL CHOIR SCHOOL.--A preparatory school for the sons of
professional men. Boys admitted as probationers nine to eleven, on
passing examination. The ten choristers and eight probationers are
lodged, boarded, and taught together at the Choir School. Charge £26 per
annum for probationers, and £16 for choristers, plus 7s. 6d. a quarter
for washing. Pianoforte lessons 15s. per quarter. Boys can compete, when
their voices break, for a scholarship at the Cathedral Grammar School.
Several have done this with success. Apply Rev. H. H. Woodward, M.A.,

WESTMINSTER ABBEY CHOIR HOUSE.--Candidates must produce certificate of
baptism and be at least eight years of age. Expected to possess good
voice, moderate knowledge of rudiments, to be able to read and write
fairly, and to pass medical examination. All boys taught vocal music,
and facilities given for learning instruments. Master of choir house
responsible for their general education, which includes English
subjects, French, German, and drawing. Parents must supply clothing, and
usual appointments, school books, pocket money, travelling expenses, and
medical attendance. All other fees paid by the Chapter.

EXETER CATHEDRAL CHOIR SCHOOL.--Fourteen choristers are boarded and
educated for £10 a year, and provided with a suit of clothes each year.
There are always two probationers in the school from eight to ten years
of age paying £35 exclusive of usual extras. Vacancies in choristers
usually filled by probationers, but no pledge given. Possible grants to
deserving choristers when they leave; school fees sometimes paid for
six months or so after the voice has failed. Head master and experienced

ALL SAINTS, MARGARET STREET, LONDON, W.--Twelve choir boys and two
accepted boys waiting for vacancies live in west wing of vicarage under
care of one of the clergy, who gives them lessons each morning, a
certificated master taking them in the evenings. Afternoon, cricket and
football in Regent's Park. Whole holiday Saturdays, and those who live
near enough can go home. Vacations--a week in January and at Easter, and
34 days in August and September. Each boy separate cubicle in dormitory.
Boys have meals in dining hall with clergy (but at separate table). Each
boy pays £12 in first year, £8 in second year, and nothing afterwards.
Gratuity of £10 when voice breaks. Probationers pay £5 per quarter, and
do everything except sing in church. No boy received unless parents wish
him to be brought up in Church of England. Correct ear and brilliant
voice count more at examination than knowledge of music. Apply Vicar.

CHAPEL ROYAL, ST. JAMES'S PALACE.--The ten choristers reside with
Master, who is a priest of the Chapel Royal. Free board and education
and greater part of clothing. Grant of from £30 to £40 on leaving choir
if conduct good. Latin, French, Mathematics, and usual English subjects.

OXFORD, MAGDALENE COLLEGE SCHOOL.--Sixteen choristers, board and
education free. Admitted by open competition. The school is not confined
to choristers; it contains at present 70 boys, many of whom pass on to
the University.

OXFORD, NEW COLLEGE.--Eight senior and eight junior choristers take part
in the services. These all receive free education at the College School,
but provide their own books. They are prepared for Oxford Local
Examinations, the College paying fees. Twelve choristers are boarded in
the School House with the master. These are arranged in two divisions
according to musical ability. The first division boarded free, the
second division pays about 6s. a week for the 40 weeks of the school
year. Some fees paid to senior boys and boys of special value as
soloists. Choristers whose parents reside in Oxford receive from 10s. to
£5 a year according to merit and seniority. Gratuity or apprentice fee
not exceeding £40 occasionally given.

FROME, SOMERSET.--St. John Baptist College. Founded by late Rev. W. J.
E. Bennett 36 years ago. Number of boys usually 15; maintained, clothed,
and educated on payment of 7s. a week under twelve, and 8s. above. No
regular holidays. Boys not allowed to leave till they have made their
first communion.

LINCOLN MINSTER.--Boys boarded and educated at Northgate Schools at
expense of Chapter. English subjects, French, Latin, German, Drawing,
Shorthand, Chemistry. All school books found. Parents pay travelling,
clothing, and washing only. Small allowance of pocket-money. Four weeks'
holiday in the year.

admitted as boarders or day pupils from eight years of age, choristers
(boarders) pay 32 guineas a year, day choristers 14 guineas.
Instrumental music, German, and Drawing are extras. Other subjects as
for Cambridge local exams. Ten weeks' holiday in the year. Scholarships
of from £5 to £15 a year are awarded to efficient choristers.

RIPON CATHEDRAL CHOIR SCHOOL.--Day boys under 14, £6 per annum; over 14,
£8. Boarders under 12, £40 per annum; over 12, £45. Laundress, £2. Usual
subjects, including modern languages and science. Instrumental music
extra. Four choral scholarships at £30, eight at £25, and six for
probationers at £20. Pupils prepared for University Local Examinations,
Preliminary Law, and Medical, &c. Playground, workshop, cricket field,
library, school magazine.

ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL CHOIR SCHOOL.--Board and education free: parents
provide clothes, travelling, and pocket money. Good voices and musical
talent necessary. Easy preliminary examination in Scripture, three R's,
and Latin. Candidates must be between 8 and 10. Two or three
examinations are held each year according as there are vacancies. Course
of study as usual for public schools. Piano and violin extra. Holidays
at Christmas, Easter, and Summer. Weekly half-holiday. Private field in
suburbs for games. Rev. W. Russell, Succentor, is head master.

SALISBURY CATHEDRAL.--Boarding school for choristers in the Close.
Eighteen boys. Parents pay £15 a year. School has also some pupils who
are not choristers. Usual subjects of secondary school. One ex-chorister
is now a scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge. The master is a Minor
Canon. Boys admitted by competition; those from neighbourhood of
Salisbury preferred. Endowment of nearly £1,000 a year for the choir.

ALL SAINTS, CLIFTON.--Choir school for the choristers of All Saints
Church, who can be prepared for public schools or commercial life. There
are twenty choir scholarships, ranging in value from £10 to £25 a year.
A boy holding a junior scholarship may at any time be elected to one of
higher value. School fees for choristers 7 to 10 guineas a term.
Choristers may remain at the school after voice breaks at discretion of
head-master. Holidays at Summer, Christmas, and Easter. The school is
open to boys generally, whether choristers or not.

THE VICAR'S CHOIR SCHOOL, HULL.--Intended for the choristers of Holy
Trinity Church. School fee, £10 10s. per annum. Boarders £40 per annum.
Ten scholarships of the value of £10 10s., ten value £8 8s., and twenty
value £5 5s. Amount of scholarship deducted from boarding fee in case of
those who are admitted into choir. Thirteen weeks' holiday during the

OXFORD, CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL SCHOOL.--Boys are all sons of clergymen
or other professional men. Eight choristers educated, boarded, and
lodged free of expense. Eight probationers, who, if approved, become
choristers as vacancies occur. Probationary period usually from 2 to
2-1/2 years. Probationers pay £25 a year. A few extras, and fee of £3
3s. on election of probationer to choristership. Every boy is, if
possible, passed through the Oxford Local Examinations. Month's holiday
in summer, and short leave of absence either at Christmas or Easter, if
particularly desired. Election by competition after trial of voice and

WINCHESTER CATHEDRAL.--Sixteen choristers sing in the services. These
receive education free, a clothing gratuity of £5 a year, and a leaving
gratuity of from £5 to £20, according to merit and length of service.
There are four boarding scholarships, which leave the parents only £5 a
year to pay. Six of the choristers are foundation boys. Of these, the
two seniors receive £4 a year, and the two juniors £2 a year, but
boarding scholarships and foundation money are not given to the same
boys. There are also four to eight probationers who supply vacancies, if
on second trial their voices are approved. These receive free education.
There are sixty boys in the school.

TENBURY, ST. MICHAEL'S COLLEGE.--Founded by the late Rev. Sir Frederick
Gore-Ouseley in 1856. There are eight choristers, boarded and educated
free. Also eight probationers, from whom the choristers are selected,
who pay 40 guineas a year. Commoners, _i.e._, boys who do not hold
scholarships, and are not probationers, pay 60 guineas a year; two or
more brothers 55 guineas a year. Preference is given in all elections to
the sons of clergymen. Thirteen weeks' holiday in the year. Sound
classical and mathematical education, to fit for scholarships and the
higher forms at public schools. Healthy situation, in country.


BRISTOL CATHEDRAL.--Boys attend Cathedral Grammar School, where there
are 100 boys.

GLOUCESTER CATHEDRAL.--Boys educated and paid up to £10 per annum.

ST. ASAPH.--Boys educated at Grammar School.

WELLS.--Boys educated at Cathedral Grammar School.

YORK.--Boys sent to Archbishop Holgate's School.

TRURO.--Probationers, after serving at least three months, may be
admitted choristers, and receive small quarterly payment. From these are
elected the "choir scholars," of whom there are now ten. These receive
free education and a quarterly gratuity. One boy, with remarkable
contralto voice, comes from a distance, and is boarded and educated at
expense of Dean and Chapter. Enlarged number of boarders contemplated.

ST. PETER'S, EATON SQUARE, LONDON, W.--Special day school with master.
Boys have midday dinner, with tea on practice and late service nights.
Boarding school formerly existed, but is given up.

DURHAM CATHEDRAL.--No boarding school.

ELY CATHEDRAL.--No boarding school.

BANGOR.--Choristers brought up in National or Grammar School.

TEMPLE CHURCH, LONDON.--Boys attend Stationers' School.

PETERBOROUGH CATHEDRAL.--Boys educated at King's School.

CHICHESTER CATHEDRAL.--Boys taught at Prebendal School.

INVERNESS CATHEDRAL.--No boarding school.

ARMAGH CATHEDRAL.--A day school for the choir boys.

HAMPTON COURT, CHAPEL ROYAL.--No boarding school.


MANCHESTER CATHEDRAL.--A special day school for the choir boys, taught
by a lay clerk. Eighteen to twenty boys receive education free, and four
foundation boys receive £20 per annum. The Precentor likes to have the
boys at nine.

LICHFIELD CATHEDRAL.--Day school taught by a deputy lay clerk, the
succentor taking Latin, English, and Divinity.

DUBLIN, ST. PATRICK'S CATHEDRAL.--No boarding school.


LINCOLN'S INN.--Choristers educated, but not boarded.

NORWICH CATHEDRAL.--No boarding school.

CARLISLE CATHEDRAL.--No boarding school.

ROCHESTER CATHEDRAL.--Boys live at home, and attend Cathedral School,
which is not especially for choristers.

LIVERPOOL CATHEDRAL.--No boarding school.

SOUTHWELL MINSTER.--No boarding school.

ST. ALBAN'S CATHEDRAL.--No boarding school.

From these particulars it will be gathered that the prevailing custom is
for chorister boys to live at home and give their voices in return for
free education. The various boarding schools described differ much in
the terms they offer, and it may be said generally that only an
exceptionally good voice and a personal introduction are likely to
succeed in those cases where free board and education are given. The
number of candidates is so large that selection is difficult.

[Illustration: Decoration]



In this list I have included songs with innocent, hopeful, joyous words
such as boys may honestly sing. Words dwelling with sadness on the past,
or speaking of life as bitter, I have excluded. Convivial and amatory
sentiments have also been ruled out. As to the music, I have excluded
songs with difficulties of vocalisation. The keys chosen are those best
suited to treble boys, bringing the melody as nearly as possible between
F and F{1}, with an occasional G{1}. The list is by no means
exhaustive, and must be regarded merely as a dip in the ocean of
ballads. I shall be much obliged to correspondents who will suggest
suitable additions.

Composer. Title and Key. Publisher.

Abt, Franz ... O little thrush (C) ... R. Cocks

Adams, Stephen ... Song of the sailor boy (E flat) R. Cocks

Adams, Stephen ... The cry of the little ones (E flat).... Boosey

Addison, R. B. ... Violets (F) ... Stanley Lucas

Allen, G. B. ... The little drummer (F) ... Ashdown

Almond, E. ... Buttercups and daisies (D) ... Ashdown

Anderton, T. ... The bells of Shandon (D) ... Chappell

André, F. A. ... A British cheer for England's Queen (F) ... Chappell

Bailey, W. J. ... Make-believes (E flat) ... Ashdown

Barker, Geo. ... A health to the outward-bound (B flat) ... Chappell

Barnby, Joseph ... An evening melody (F) ... Morley

Barnby, Joseph ... That haven fair (E flat) ... Morley

Barnett, J. F. ... The Minstrel (G) ... Stanley Lucas

Barri, Odoardo ... In the cloisters (B flat) ... Morley

Barri, Odoardo ... The beauteous song (F) ... Cramer

Barri, Odoardo ... The child and the flowers (E flat) ... Ashdown

Behrend, A. H. ... Gentleman Jack (C) ... Patey & Willis

Behrend, A. H. ... The angel's promise (F) ... Boosey

Behrend, A. H. ... The Gift (F) ... Boosey

Behrend, A. H. ... Two children (A) ... Patey & Willis

Bennett, Sterndale ... Dawn, gentle flower ... Novello

Bevan, Fred ... Gladsome tidings (E flat) ... Patey & Willis

Bevan, Fred ... I'll be a soldier, mother (A) ... Patey & Willis

Bevan, Fred ... The Admiral's broom (F minor) ... Enoch

Bishop, R ... Chime again, beautiful bells (B flat) ... R. Cocks

Botterhill, Jessie ... Pack clouds away (C) ... Stanley Lucas

Botterhill, Jessie ... The Lark (F) ... Stanley Lucas

Buck, Dudley ... When the heart is young ... Boosey

Cherry, J. W. ... Gentle Spring (G) ... Ashdown

Cherubini ... Ave Maria ...

Chesham, E. M. ... Fire (G) ... Cramer

Cobb, G. F. ... Mary, Queen of Scots ... London Music Pub. Co.

Cobb, G. F. ... Versailles ... London Music Pub. Co.

Cobb, G. F. ... Kenilworth ... Metzler

Costa, Michael ... Morning Prayer [_Eli_](alto) ... J. Williams

Cowen, F. H. ... Children's dreams (E minor) ... R. Cocks

Cowen, F. H. ... The Children's Home (D) ... Morley

Cowen, F. H. ... Tears (alto) ...

Cowen, F. H. ... The watchman and the child (F) ... Morley

Coward, J. M. ... The butterfly and the humble bee ... Metzler & Co.

Davis, Miss ... What is that, mother? (A flat) ... Ashdown

Dick, Cotsford ... The Angel's Gift (F) ... Morley

Diehl, Louis ... Dear England (C) ... R. Cocks

Elmore, Frank ... Child and the sunbeams (C) ... Stanley Lucas

Farebrother, B. ... Reine d'amour ...

Flood, Edwin ... The gipsy's life (C) ... R. Cocks

Foster, M. B. The mother's grave (E minor) [alto] Stanley Lucas

Frost, C. J. ... Youthful Songs ... Novello

Gabriel, V. Children's voices [alto] ...

Gatty, A. S. ... Three little pigs (A flat) ... R. Cocks

Gibsone, Ignace ... The man-o'-war's man (D) ... Patey & Willis

Gilletto, Paul ... Lead, kindly light (A minor) ... Phillips & Page

Glover, Stephen ... The flower gatherers (E) ... R. Cocks

Gounod, C. ... For ever with the Lord (D) ... Phillips & Page

Gounod, C. ... Glory to Thee, my God (D) ... Phillips & Page

Gounod, C. ... The King of Love (E flat) [alto] ... Phillips & Page

Grazia, E. N. ... Laugh while you may (D) ... Ashdown

Greenhill, J. ... The Canadian herd-boy (F) [alto] ... Stanley Lucas

Gyde, Margaret ... The song of the robin (D) ... Ashdown

Hatton, J. L. ... The cause of England's greatness (F) ... R. Cocks

Hatton, J. L. ... Song should breathe of scents and flowers ... Ashdown

Hatton, J. L. ... Blossoms ... Ashdown

Hawthorne, Alice ... Hearth and home (G) ... R. Cocks

Hecht, E. ... The innocent child (C) ... Stanley Lucas

Hobson, M. ... The peaceful Sabbath bell (F) ... Chappell

Horner, B. W. ... In the cloisters (E flat) ... Stanley Lucas

Jackson, J. ... Cathedral Memories (E flat) ... Morley

Kjerulf, Halfdan ... Asleep (E) ... Stanley Lucas

Lemoine, E. ... The ship-boy's prayer (C min.) [alto] ... Stanley Lucas

Liebe, Louis ... The stripling's armour (C minor) ... Stanley Lucas

Löhr, F. N. ... Suffer the little children (F) ... Cramer

Maccabe, F. ... Buttercups and daisies (D) ... Chappell

Mackenzie, H. ... The lion flag of England (G) ... Patey & Willis

Marzials, Theo ... The fairy Jane (B flat) ... Enoch

Mendelssohn ... The Savoyard's Return ... Novello

Moffat, Douglas ... The child's prayer (F) ... Stanley Lucas

Moir, F. L. ... Children asleep (F) ... Boosey

Moir, F. L. ... He will forgive (C) ... R. Cocks

Molloy, J. L. ... Home, dearie, home (F) ... Boosey

Molloy, J. L. ... The little match girl (G minor) ... Chappell

Molloy, J. L. ... The sailor's dance ... Boosey

Molloy, J. L. ... Dresden China ... Boosey

Morgan, Franz ... A fairer garden (C) ... Cramer

Offenbach ... Spring, spring _(Babil and Bijou)_ ...

Parker, Henry ... Jerusalem (G) ... Cramer

Pattison, T. Mee ... Blossoms, fair blossoms ... Curwen

Piccolomini, M. ... Dolorosa ... Orsborn

Piccolomini, M. ... Eternal rest ... Orsborn

Piccolomini, M. ... In Manus Tuas (F) ... Morley

Piccolomini, M. ... Ora pro nobis ... Orsborn

Piccolomini, M. ... Salva nos, domine ... Orsborn

Piccolomini, M. ... Sancta Maria ... Orsborn

Piccolomini, M. ... The soldier of the cross ... Orsborn

Piccolomini, M. ... The two choirs ... Orsborn

Pinsuti, Ciro ... Heaven's chorister (C) ... R. Cocks

Pinsuti, Ciro ... The old cathedral (D) ... Morley

Pinsuti, Ciro ... The touch of a vanished hand (G) ... Cramer

Pinsuti, Ciro ... Welcome, pretty primrose ... Ricordi

Randegger, A. ... Save me, O God (B flat) ... Stanley Lucas

Randegger, A. ... Joyous Life ...

Rawlings, A. J. ... The distant city [alto] ... Marshall

Robinson, J. ... A Hush Song (F) ... J. Williams

Rodney, Paul ... Alone on the raft (G) ... Enoch

Rodney, Paul ... Calvary (D) ... Enoch

Rodney, Paul ... The bells of St Mary's (D) ... Enoch

Rodney, Paul ... Via Dolorosa (G) ... Enoch

Rodwell, G. H. ... Your boy in blue (F) ... R. Cocks

Roeckel, J. L. ... Captain Dando (E flat) ... Enoch

Roeckel, J. L. ... Crowning the seasons (D) ... R. Cocks

Roeckel, J. L. ... Hark! the dogs do bark! (A) ... Cramer

Richards, Brinley ... Let the hills resound (E flat) ... R. Cocks

Richards, Brinley ... Mother, thou art far away (F) ... R. Cocks

Smallwood, W. ... A song for the land I love (C) ... Chappell

Smart, Henry ... Victoria (B flat) ... R. Cocks

Smart, Henry ... By the blue sea [alto] ... Metzler

Smart, Henry ... Dropping down the troubled river ... Novello

Smart, Henry ... The birds were telling one another (F) ... Ashdown

Somervell, Arthur ... Four songs of Innocence ... Stanley Lucas

Songs for Boys (20 songs, price 6d.) ... ... Boosey

Songs for Young Girls (18 songs, 1s.) ... ... Boosey

Stericker, A. C. ... The Ivy Green (B flat) [alto] ... Stanley Lucas

Street, A. ... The birdie's ball (D) ... R. Cocks

Streleski, Anton ... Violets (G) ... R. Cocks

Sullivan, A. S. ... The chorister (alto) ... Metzler

Sullivan, A. S. ... What does little birdie say ... Ashdown

Sullivan, A. S. ... The Sailor's Grave (E flat) ... Ashdown

Tours, Berthold ... Jesu, lover of my soul (D) ... R. Cocks

Tours, Berthold ... The dog and the shadow (G) ... R. Cocks

Tours, Berthold ... The new kingdom (D) ... Morley

Trotére, H. ... Three men in a boat (C) ... R. Cocks

Wallace, W. V. ... Scenes that are brightest (F) ... Hutchings

Walsh, Marian ... The sailor boy (C) ... Stanley Lucas

Watson, M. ... An Englishman's house is his castle (C) ... R. Cocks

Watson, M. ... Little birdie mine (D) ... Ashdown

Watson, M. ... Little Lady Bountiful (F) ... Ashdown

Watson, M. ... Loved and saved (B flat) ... Enoch

Watson, M. ... Our dear old home (D) ... Patey & Willis

Watson, M. ... The Powder-monkey (G) ... Patey & Willis

Watson, M. ... There's a Friend for little children (A) ... Patey & Willis

Watson, M. ... Trafalgar (E flat) ... Patey & Willis

Watson, M. ... Two bells (G) ... Patey & Willis

West, J. E. ... The roseate hues (alto) ... Ashdown

West, W. ... I am a honey-bee (G) ... Ashdown

Wrightson, W. T. ... Be happy, and never despair (G) ... R. Cocks

Wrightson, W. T. ... Cottage and throne (E flat) ... R. Cocks

Old Song ... Sir Guy of Warwick (F) ... Chappell

   "    ... The Minstrel Boy ... Boosey

   "    ... Charlie is my darling ... Boosey

   "    ... Love was once a little boy ... Boosey

....    ... The Skipper and his Boy (F) ... Hutchings



Abuse of the voice, 1

Agricultural districts, 49

Alto boys, 75

Altos, Adult male, 75

Balance of parts, 16

Barnes, Rev. W. M., 23

Barnicott, Mr., 15

Bates, Dr. Frank, 81

Behnke, Mr., 14, 17

Berlin, St. Mary's, 71

Boarding Schools, Choir, 92

Breaking of the boy's voice, 3

Breath, Management of the, 6, 67

Breden, Mr. Owen, 71

Bridge, Dr., 60

Brooks, Mr. Walter, 15, 34

Cambridge, Mr. F., 87

Canterbury Cathedral, 64

Cathedral choirmasters, 59

Change to man's voice, 3

Chanting, 62

Chapel Royal, St. James's, 59

Chest voice, 24

Choir Guild, 9

Choosing boys, 21

Choristers, Schools for, 90

Churchill, 52

Clement Danes, St., Strand, 72

Clergyman's daughter, The, 55

Cold, Singing during a, 2

Collar-bone breathing, 6

Collinson, Mr. T. H., 17, 86

Concert songs for boys, 99

Consonants, 27

Country boys, 49

Creser, Dr., 69

Critchley, Mr. W., 49, 84

Curwen, John, Register names, 12

Day Schools, Choir, 96

Deacon, Mr. H., 27

Demack, Miss, 52

Diaphragm breathing, 6

Dickson, Rev. W. E., 25, 78

Discipline, Preserving, 8

Donald, Mr. H. A., 33, 74

Dunn, Sinclair, Voice exs., 13

Edinburgh, St. Mary's, 17, 86

Eglinger, Herr, 15, 35, 88

Ely, Mr. Thomas, 88

Ely, The choir at, 78

"E," The vowel, 17

Evans, Mr., 50

Feeble voice, A, 1

Fines, 17

Flattening, 31, 32

Garrett, Dr., 76

Gaul, Mr. A. R., 66

Gibbons, Mr. R. T., 86

Gilbert, Mr. Bernard, 3, 16

Girls, Imitating, 50, 53

Hammond, Mr. Stocks, 16, 86

Health and singing, 2

Helmore, Rev. F. J., 23

Helmore, Rev. Thomas., 59

Hibberd, Mr. C., 34, 57

Hopkins, Dr. E. J., 61

Husband, Rev. E., 10

Indistinctness, 27

Infant School, The, 42

Intoning, 17, 52

Isaac, Mr. A., 85

Juleff, Mr. C. E., 87

Keeton, Dr. Haydn, 67, 80

Knapp, Mr. F. J., 72

Lady teachers, 52

Leeds Parish Church, 69

Lincoln Cathedral, 62

Lincoln's Inn Chapel, 61

Lloyd, Dr. C. H., 63

Longhurst, Dr., 65

Long services, 8

Macfarren, Sir George, 90

Mackenzie, Sir Morell, 3

Managing choir boys, 8

Mann, Rev. W., 24

Mark's, St., Chelsea, 71

Martin, Dr. G. C., 2

Mental effects, 32, 34

Mixed schools, 32

Mühlfeld, Herr, 73

Norfolk voices, 56

Norwich, Dr. Buck at, 66

O'Rell, Max, 8

Oxford, Christ Church, 63

Parbery, Mr. George, 53

Parish church choirmasters, 69

Paul's, St., Cathedral, 59

Pearson, Mr. W. W., 33, 56, 84

Peter's, St., Eaton Square, 9, 70

Pianoforte for rehearsal, 32

Prizes for choir boys, 9

Pronunciation in singing, 27, 46

Puberty, Age of, 3

Registers, The, 12

Rib breathing, 6

Richardson, Mr. W. H., 35, 40

Roberti, Signor, 36

Roney, Mr. H. B., 9, 16

Rural districts, 49

Salisbury Cathedral, 67

Salisbury Diocese, 23

Salzungen Choir, 73

Saxton, Mr. R. H., 3, 19

Schools for choristers, 90

School teacher, The, 41

Sentiment about choir boys, 11

Sergison, Mr. de Manbey, 9, 70

Sharpening, 35

Sharp, Mr. Frank, 83

Sight-singing, 30

Singing by ear, 29

Singing by note, 29

Singing out of tune, 31

Songs for boys, 99

South, Mr. C. L., 67

Stainer, Sir John, 13

Steggall, Dr., 61

Stewart, Rev. C. H., 25

Stone, Alfred, 29

Strakosch, M., 15

Swanley boys, 35, 40

Taylor, Mr. James, 76

Taylor, Mr. J. C. E., 20, 85

Temper, Uncontrolled, 10

Temple Church, 61

Thick register, 12, 89

Thin register, 12

Tonic Sol-fa certificates, 9, 20, 29, 47

Tonic Sol-fa system, 30, 50, 51, 53, 57, 70, 73

Training of boys' voices, 40

Tuning boys up, 16, 73

Upton Cross School, 74

Voice training, 12

Weekes, Rev. W. J., 35

Westminster Abbey, 60

Working class boys, 10

Yorkshire voices, 14

Young, Mr. J. W. M., 26, 62

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Boy's Voice - A Book of Practical Information on The Training of Boys' - Voices For Church Choirs, &c." ***

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