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Title: What Every Singer Should Know
Author: Ryan, Millie
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "What Every Singer Should Know" ***

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[Illustration: image of Millie Ryan]

Every Singer
Should Know

[Illustration: music-harp]

Published by



Copyrighted 1910








"Is it Worth My While to Have My Voice Cultivated"                  1

"Can I Become a Grand Opera Singer?"                                8

"At What Age Shall I Take Up the Study of Voice Culture?"          12

Singing Lessons as a Health Culture                                23

Advice to Parents                                                  25

"Is it Necessary to go Abroad to Study?"                           28

Chorus Singing                                                     34

Stage Fright                                                       36

The Accompanist                                                    42

Selecting a Teacher                                                45

Art for Art's Sake                                                 52

Educating the Masses                                               57

Hints and Helps                                                    64

What and How to Practice                                           73

The Breath                                                         83

A Few Practical Exercises and Illustrations                        88


This book is not for the purpose of instruction in singing, as singing
is an art which cannot be taught from book or correspondence. Neither is
it a technical treatise on the voice, but instead I aim through the
medium of my book to have a "heart-to-heart" talk with the beginner, and
with those who contemplate the study of voice culture.

Books abounding in technical terms are valueless to a beginner, and the
finished artist does not need such a book. There are many valuable books
published, but very few which are written in a manner simple enough for
the beginner to grasp. I wish to give all the valuable "hints" and
"helps" that it has taken years of experience to gather, covering all
the questions that are absolutely necessary to know, making it brief,
simple and =understandable=.


Who is carrying out her plans of establishing a conservatory of music
and festival house for operatic performances, at Neal, N.J. Mme. Nordica
says: "I am confident that there is a crying need in this country for
this sort of musical establishment. Present conditions make it
impossible to enable the public to enjoy opera in English or to hear the
singing of that great host of talented Americans who are forced to
address their efforts to European audiences.]


The first question which arises with all those who possess an average
singing voice is, "Will it pay me to study voice culture?" The answer
may be found in the following:

"If you possess a good voice, do not hesitate a moment to cultivate it,
regarding it as the most beautiful gift granted you by

"But," says the applicant, "I must make my own living. Have I enough
material to cultivate and be able to realize returns?"

This depends entirely on yourself and what your ambitions are.

There is a great field in music, and if you have ear, voice, and talent,
STUDY. And, if in addition to these you have ambition, determination and
application, you are sure of success. What your field of operation will
be, whether church, concert or opera, time will decide.

The power to win is yours--determine to succeed and you cannot fail.

In order to make a success of anything, you must give it your undivided
attention, and while doing so, your aim must be fixed constantly on the
goal which you desire to attain. Rome was not built in one day, neither
can the elementary training of a voice be accomplished in a year.

If you are in good health, you must never allow the warm days of summer
to be an obstacle to your practice. Can you imagine the successful
banker, rising young doctor, lawyer or actor stopping their work because
of a warm day? There may be =some= who do, but they are not the ones who
are successful. When you hear a great singer, think of the obstacles she
must have overcome in reaching her position of excellence. Never doubt
yourself or your ability, but say "that what determination and
application have done for others can be done for me."

You must have confidence in yourself if you want others to have
confidence in you.

Never lose your temper. Adeline Patti was asked how she preserved her
charm long after the springtime of youth deserts the average woman. She
replied, "I keep my temper." Don't expect to grasp, assimilate and put
into practice in one lesson what it has taken years for your teacher to

I remember one pupil who said her purse would not allow anything better
than a hall room in New York for a whole winter's study, and that she
really had no "chance" to practice, as her room was too small. This was
a very poor excuse, as that was merely one obstacle to be overcome.

The artists who have reached the top are those who have had =innumerable=
obstacles to overcome.

In Switzerland, over a little barber shop, in a room so small that there
was not room for two chairs in addition to the piano, Madame Nordica,
with Madame Cosima Wagner, and a coacher, practiced daily. The following
winter she won one of the successes of her career, as "Isolde."

To reach the top in the profession, you must have more than voice and
application, for a singer may have the greatest of technique, yet lack
"soul" and "intelligence." The latter two you must possess, as these the
teacher is unable to give you.

The beginner, in singing, needs a model to imitate, just as much as the
painter or sculptor. Everything is "imitation" until you develop in your
work; your individuality will assert itself as you become proficient. Do
not allow anyone to frighten you by telling you "never imitate or you
will simply be a parrot." Only the very poor teacher who knows her own
weakness as a model would make such an assertion. If the beginner is
fortunate enough to secure a teacher who can demonstrate a =perfect tone=,
do not be afraid to imitate.

In order to fully interpret the emotions it is necessary to have
knowledge outside of the singing lesson. It is for this reason that
singers seldom reach the stage of "artist" until they are pretty well
advanced in years. It is not how many lessons you take, but the gradual
development, which you attain through experience. You must feel the
heartbeats of others, must know intimately "joy," "pain" and "sorrow" in
order to fully express these emotions. There is no rule of "right" and
"wrong" in the interpretation of a song, it being simply a matter of
opinion. That is where the individuality asserts itself. I remember
taking the old warhorse, "Una Voce Poco Fa," from Il Barbiere (Rossini)
to three of the greatest living singing masters in Italy. Each one
interpreted the aria a little differently, and I am positive each
thought he was the nearest to the composer's idea. Which one was

"When you sing you are delivering a message, and you must make your
audience understand and feel it, as it is our 'feelings' above all that
are immediately affected by music."--Von Weber.

Do not be too anxious to realize financially. Consider that Wagner's
salary as choir-master in the city of Warsaw was less than $12.00 a
month. The great drawback to many of the students in America is the
desire to work on the surface only--they don't seem willing to start at
the beginning and work their way up. The matter of studying voice
culture for a year does not make it possible for the singer to step
before an audience and attain immediate success without other

It takes more than the studio to make a "star." No artist ever began as
a master. In addition to being a singer, you must possess talent,
character and the ability to manage. If there is one of these qualities
lacking, you must remain only an "artist." It takes all three in accord
to produce a "STAR."


The average teacher, in fact, most teachers, will say, "Yes, if you
study," but this is not true, as you have only about one chance in a
thousand. Have you any idea of the requirements necessary in order to
become a "star" of the Metropolitan Opera Company?

You must have a fine voice, a "big" voice, a voice of great power and
endurance, fine enunciation, clear and correct pronunciation, knowledge
of the modern languages, have at least twenty-five operas committed to
memory, fine dramatic ability, good physique, size, personality and
"pull." And you must also be on the other side of the ocean to accept
the engagement; and then, your acceptance by a director to "star" is
about as difficult as an audience with a king.


The well known composer who has enaugerated a plan to establish
Municipal Grand Opera in New York City. Mr. Mildenberg's experience as
conductor in the Municipal Opera Houses in France and Italy has fitted
him well for this laudable undertaking which will pave the way for the
training and placing of many talented pupils in this country, who have
heretofore been compelled to go abroad in order to secure positions on
the Grand Opera Stage.]

There is no reason why a person with voice and talent who has to make
his own living, could not do so after several years of study. I have
over one hundred pupils who are making a good living by singing, and as
many more holding church positions paying them enough to enable them to
continue their studies.

Show me a pupil who has to make his own living, and who has studied with
one teacher for eight or nine years and is not making his living by
singing, and you are showing me one who =never will=.

There is, of course, no end to the study of voice culture. I have
studied more or less for over twenty years and am still studying, but if
you have to make your own living, secure whatever position may be open
to you. The church or concert position is =equally= valuable as the opera.

In Europe, where you hear grand opera all the year around, it becomes a
second nature, but here in our western cities, until recently, grand
opera was almost unknown; two or three performances a year was about all
we could hope for. This was not enough to thoroughly acquaint the people
with the operas, and not enough to create a demand.

In a western city of 200,000 inhabitants where five years ago it was
impossible to draw an audience of a hundred persons unless heralded by
spectacular advertising, I had the pleasure of witnessing this year
"Standing Room Only" during the performance of the dear old operas, Il
Trovatore, Faust and Carmen. The operas that the people have become
acquainted with through the phonographs, the orchestras and the grand
opera study clubs, organized by the more up-to-date teachers. Mr. Albert
Mildenberg is taking up a most commendable work, that of establishing
the municipal grand opera in New York City; he will eventually succeed,
and, with Herr Andreas Dippel organizing permanent grand opera in the
larger cities west of New York, it will not be long before the grand
opera positions will be plentiful. Within the next year, through the
efforts of Victor Maurel, the grand opera sung in English will also gain
ground, and divide honors with the French, German and Italian, giving
those who have not studied the foreign languages, but who are otherwise
prepared, a chance for positions on the grand opera stage.

Some cranks insist that the days of the old Italian opera, with its
arias and glorious coloratura work, are passing in order to give place
for the new =music drama=. This is not correct, and will not be possible
as long as there are excellent singers who can sing these operas. We
have room for both the grand opera and the music drama.

To be an "artist" is the aim the student has in view, and "study" is the
means to that end.


Mrs. L. and her 15-year-old daughter called at my studio. The mother
explained that her little girl had been "leading the singing" in school
ever since she was eleven years old, but that her voice was not as good
as it used to be, and that she would like to have her study, but thought
she was too young. I tried the girl's voice and found two registers used
so differently that a person sitting in the next room would think they
were listening to two persons singing. She had a terrible break between
the chest and head tones, and for =four= years had been developing in this
bad way of singing. Now, this child should either have taken up voice
culture at eleven years of age or not "lead the singing" in school.
Children, with very few exceptions, in going from chest to head tones,
will sing =with= the throat, not understanding how to make the change, or
rather how to place the tone; in this way producing a break, which later
in life, when they take up voice culture, will cause endless, and in
some cases, permanent trouble.

I know of many children who sing at entertainments, school, church,
etc., and you will hear their parents say, "Scarcely a week passes that
my daughter does not sing at some entertainment. If she were a little
older, we would have her take up voice culture." Now, if your daughter
is old enough to sing at entertainments, she is old enough to study.
Either do not let her sing, or put her under the care of a good teacher.

"How shall I know if she is under proper instruction?"

A good teacher will, first of all, not allow her to sing at the top of
her voice, which all children seem to delight in doing. A good teacher
will not develop on the extreme =high= or extreme =low= tones. A good
teacher will even up the =medium= register, teach her how to use the
=breath on the tone=, how to =place= the tone, overcoming all seeming change
from chest to head, will give her perfect pronunciation and enunciation.
This can be done at any age from eleven years, depending on the
individual. A girl who has good ear, and who does not lead the singing
in school at eleven and sing at entertainments, can begin at sixteen or
seventeen and develop into a very fine singer.

"Should my son take up voice culture before his voice has changed?"

This case is just the same as with the girl, =if he sings=. In fact, I
have found in my twenty years' experience as singer and teacher that the
boy who studies voice culture before his voice changes has an easy road
to travel =after= his voice has changed. Many boys' voices have not
finished changing until they are eighteen or nineteen years of age. The
boy who studied before his voice began changing understands the breath
control, the placing of the tone, and the pronunciation and enunciation.
These four fundamentals are absolutely necessary in order to sing well;
and whether his voice, after the change, develops into tenor or bass,
these fundamentals remain the same, and enable him to continue, instead
of merely begin. The boy, who has studied, or is under a good
instructor, will know =when= to stop singing. I have known many boys with
promising voices, who have ruined them entirely by singing or trying to
sing =during= the change. But they were not boys who were under
instruction, or they would have known better. I do =not= claim that it is
necessary to begin the study of voice culture as a child, as this is
entirely a matter of the individual, but I =do= claim that you can count
on one hand the singers who have reached distinction and whose voices
have lasted any length of time, who started their singing lessons after
they were out of their teens.

I have pupils who are making a good living as church soloists and on the
concert stage, who commenced their study after they were twenty years
old, but they are the =exception=, and not the =rule=.

I think a woman has the greatest success in teaching children. This may
be partly due to her maternal instincts. Her illustrations and
demonstrations are more simple than a man's. Her patience with children
also fits her wonderfully well to teach the child.

You can accomplish nothing with the voice through fear. If the young boy
or girl loves the work, looks forward to the lessons, they cannot fail
in whatever they undertake.

To satisfy those who disagree with me in regard to the value of early
study, I would ask them to read the lives of the great singers, and they
will find that with very few exceptions they took up the study of voice
culture before and during their early teens. Space forbids me to give a
complete list. However, for the benefit of those who have no access to
the biographies of the singers, I will select the names that I am sure
you are familiar with, beginning at 1740, and down to the present time:

Malibran, one of the world's most famous singers, at the age of seven
was studying Solfeggio with Panseron at Naples, Italy, and made her
debut in grand opera in her fifteenth year.

Pesaroni made her grand opera debut at sixteen, and twenty-five years
later we find her still one of the leading grand opera singers.

Teresa Titjens made her debut in grand opera at the age of fifteen.

Pauline Lucca was singing at thirteen, and made her debut at the age of

Kellog made her debut as Gilda in "Rigoletto" at the age of eighteen.

Minnie Hauk took up voice study at the age of twelve, and was singing in
grand opera during her seventeenth year.

Christine Nilson, as a child, sang on the streets, was placed under an
instructor, and six months later sang at Court.

Albini, during her twenty-second year, was engaged by the Royal Italian
Grand Opera at Covent Garden, to sing the leading roles of the grand

Scalchi studied while a mere child, and made her grand opera debut at
the age of sixteen.

Melba made her debut in grand opera when she was twenty-two years of

Nevada sang in public at the age of six, and has been singing ever

Patti made a three-year concert tour under the direction of Strakosh,
between the ages of eight and eleven, and made her grand opera debut at

Nordica made her debut at fifteen, and is still one of the greatest and
loveliest of our singers.

Sembrich sang solos in church when she could scarcely see over the
railing, and was in grand opera at the age of twenty.

You may have doubts as to the art of singing of those whom you have read
about, but I am sure you have heard at least Scalchi, Melba, Patti,
Nordica and Sembrich, and you can have no doubt as to their being
classed both as singers and artists.

It is needless to say that these people must have studied these operas
in order to sing them, and when you take into consideration that they
were not "music dramas" that require really more proficiency in acting
than in singing, but the Italian operas, requiring most perfect
=coloratura= work, and the Wagner operas, demanding heavy =dramatic=
singing, I think you must be convinced that if early study were
injurious to the voice, these great "songsters" would not be living
examples of my assertion.

Someone will say, "This may be the case with women, but what of the

We find the great German tenor, Albert Nieman, singing the grand opera
roles at eighteen.

Heinrich Vogl, styled the "Interpreter of Wagner," sang these opera
roles at the age of twenty.

Italo Campanini was singing in grand opera at twenty-one.

Guilliam Ibos, the grand French tenor, and Van Dyck, were both singing
the grand opera roles at the age of twenty-two.

Jean de Reszke was soloist at the cathedral at Warsaw at the age of
=twelve=, and was singing in grand opera at twenty-two. I am sure many of
you have heard him sing after his forty-fifth year, and will not deny
that he is both singer and artist.

Then I hear someone say, "Perhaps their voices did not change, as they
were tenors." There is =some= change at maturity in =all voices=. Very well,
what about Victor Maurel? He was singing the grand opera roles at
twenty-one. Jean Baptiste Faure took up the study of the voice at
thirteen, and at twenty-two =created= the part of Mephistopheles in Faust.

These men and women, whose names stand out as brilliant stars in the
firmament of music, studied and sang before and in their early teens,
and these are the voices that have been everlasting.

Within the past six or eight years some beautiful singers have appeared
in the grand opera--one tenor who claims to have studied less than six
months before he appeared in grand opera, and a soprano, making the same
claim, and this study is supposed to have taken place after they were
out of their teens. It will be of interest to wait and watch these
voices to see if they will withstand the wear of twenty-five years'
service, and still be beautiful, or like the fire-fly, radiate their
beautiful light but for a moment and then disappear.


"I should like to take up the study of voice culture, but am not very

That is the very reason you should take up singing. I have seen anæmic
girls take up the study of voice culture, and at the end of one year's
study develop perfect breathing, a fine full chest, rosy lips, warm
hands, an elegant digestion, and a good disposition.

There is no tonic for the =nerves= equal to voice culture. At one of the
large sanitariums where eight hundred and five patients were suffering
from tuberculosis, there was but one who had been a singer. The nasal
breathing prevents adenoids from developing. The deep respiration
oxygenates the blood and gives us power to resist diseases. We stand and
walk better. We derive unusual pleasure for ourselves, with the power
to entertain others. As the study is unlimited, our interest cannot fail
to increase with each year. It fills our lives as nothing else can do.

"Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the
smallest task in music is so absorbing and carries us so far away from
town, country and earth, and all earthly things that it is truly a
blessed gift of God."--Mendelsohn.

It is a fact that more people become patients through "boredom" than
through fever. It is the monotony of the daily routine and lack of
interest which is the root of most of the "illness" and "nerves" of our
present day young women.

Try the study of voice culture as an interesting and permanent remedy.

The cause of "musical indigestion" is the attending of concerts where
one is compelled to listen to singing or playing, which is poorly
executed or too far beyond one to be properly understood.


Parents should encourage their children who are taking up the study of
voice culture, as home encouragement is necessary to children. I know
that parents are inclined to think that when they pay for the music
lessons, nothing further should be expected of them. But this is
positively a wrong idea.

Do not make the great mistake of forcing your children too soon upon the
public. Many excellent young voices have been ruined in this manner. A
child eleven years of age was brought to my studio. She had ear, voice
and talent, but was almost "sung out." She had a bad break in her voice,
and performed the most unusual contortions in taking a tone, produced by
pushing the throat. The mother assured me that everybody thought she
sang "just grand." She was to sing at an entertainment in a month, and
they thought a few lessons in voice culture would be of great value. It
took an hour of my valuable time to convince them that she must not sing
at present, as it was positively necessary to overcome the break in her
voice, keep her from singing too much, and cure her audible breathing.
They finally arranged for her instruction, but made semi-monthly trips
during three months to ascertain if she was ready to sing in public, and
left with the remark that "they knew of many teachers who would be glad
to have her sing for them as an advertisement." Even the child was
disappointed, as undoubtedly she heard nothing but this at home.

Parents should be sensible enough to remember that their little girl
cannot finish school in three months, that their son cannot go through
college in three months, and that they cannot learn to play the piano in
three months.

"That she is young and people will not expect much" is not an excuse.
The public judge by what they see and hear and not by what she may be
able to accomplish if she is given time. How often we have heard father
say, "Johnny, go and play a piece for the company." Poor Johnny would
rather take a licking. =He= knows he is not ready to play for company, but
father says, "Here I have been paying for Johnny's piano lessons and
Mary's singing lessons for nearly three months, and I haven't heard a
song or piece yet. If they are not learning anything, they had better
quit taking lessons." And poor Johnny and Mary inflict on the company
what might be expected after only three months of training.

Parents, select a reputable teacher--the highest priced is often the
cheapest in the end. When you know that they are under perfect
instruction, leave it to the teacher as to when they should play or sing
in public, and you will find that just as soon as they are able, the
teacher will be as anxious and pleased as yourself to have them appear.


This, of course, depends entirely upon your ambition. There are very few
American singers who have reached positions on the grand opera stage
without having previously studied abroad.

It is well in any case to get your preliminary training at home. For
tone placing and singing you can do equally as well in this country as
abroad, as we have excellent teachers here from all parts of the globe.

I would advise the boy or girl who has a good home and lives in a
community where it is possible to get proper instruction to take their
first two or three years of work in this country. Take up the study of
languages and if your progress warrants your making a life work of
music, then I would suggest that you go to Europe in order to get the
broadening and the finishing touches that are necessary in order to
become an artist.

[Illustration: VICTOR MAUREL

The noted baritone for whom Verdi composed Otello and Falstaff, thinks
that Americans are as much entitled to hear their language at the Opera
Houses as the German, French and Italians. To further this project he
will include opera in English during his present Grand Opera season in
New York City. Mr. Maurel also believes strongly in giving young
American artists of real promise, an occasion to make their début in
this country and under favorable artistic patronage and he is going to
give them a chance to do so.]

For your German songs and operas you should go to Germany. For the
Italian operas to Italy, where it is possible for you to live in the
atmosphere of the opera and hear the language every day. The same also
applies to the French, who, of all people insist emphatically on perfect

You can, of course, take up and to some extent learn the languages here,
but you are liable to meet with the same disappointment as a young lady
from the west who studied French in school for several years and thought
herself proficient in that language. She went to Paris to study music
and it was fully six months before she was able to either understand or
to be understood in common, every-day conversation.

I am in favor of the class lessons so popular in Europe, and hope some
day we will be able to make them universal. Ten or twelve pupils
assemble at one time and each takes his lesson in turn. In this way each
gets the benefit of the other lessons. This also enables the pupils to
become accustomed to singing before each other, which is invaluable in
overcoming nervousness. Some pupils desire to take their lessons in
private, as they do not care to sing before a class. This feeling will
gradually disappear and it is much better to have it over with in the
beginning, than later when you are expected to go before a critic or
manager to sing.

The expense of studying abroad may be adjusted entirely according to
your pocketbook. When anyone tells you it is cheaper to study on the
other side, they display their ignorance of the subject. I have studied
in this country, Germany, France and Italy, and I have found that,
including everything, it costs about the same everywhere. You can
secure board and room from five dollars a week up to any price you wish
to pay. It is also possible to live cheaper than this if necessary, but
for the student of singing it is of great importance to eat good,
nourishing food, as it is impossible to sing well unless you are in
excellent condition physically.

Several of the old Italian music masters do not hesitate to say that it
is the American with the large purse who has forced them to raise their
prices, when they were perfectly satisfied to charge much less.

Miss Moneybag arrives in Italy to take up voice culture. She calls on
one of the old masters; he asks her seventeen lire (about $3.00) per
lesson. This sounds cheap to her as she has been paying $5.00 a lesson
at home, so she starts out again looking for a higher-priced teacher.
She finds one who has had a little more experience with the Americans,
he sizes her up and asks her thirty-five lira; this sounds more in
accordance with her pocketbook, and she lists for the season. This
sizing up of the American pocketbook has been going on for some time and
the old "Maestro" who was perfectly satisfied with $3.00 is waking to
the fact that if he wants these Americans he must raise his prices. And
so we find at present, lessons costing about the same the world over.
However, when Miss Small Pocketbook and real talent arrives, she can
always arrange terms in accordance with her pocketbook, when she proves
she is there to accomplish results. This is not merely hearsay, but
facts gathered in my interviews with some of the most noted

If you intend to go into the grand opera it is advisable to go abroad,
as it gives you the prestige which is necessary at present, in order to
secure these positions of which we have a fair illustration in the case
of a beautiful mezzo soprano who had been singing with the English
Grand Opera Company, and though in every way qualified to sing with the
Metropolitan Grand Opera Company, was unable to secure an engagement
with them. She went abroad, changed her name, and returned the following
season as one of the Metropolitan Grand Opera stars, and is still one of
the favorites in that company.

This seems rather inconsistent, but is nevertheless true.

If you are fortunate enough to make your debut abroad you will have
practically no trouble in securing a position with any manager on this
side of the ocean.


It is of great value to the singer to belong to a good chorus, provided
you know enough not to attempt to be the whole chorus yourself, and are
willing to give the others a chance.

To be a success in the chorus you must observe the following rules:

Be punctual.

Stand erect, and on both feet. Let your chest lead.

Make yourself a part of the chorus. This is not a solo.

Don't annoy those around you by "wiggling" or "fidgeting."

Rise and sit down in unison with the others.

Do not look all over the place, but keep your eyes on the conductor.

Do not cover your face with your music.

Remember it is the conductor's duty to beat time. Keep head, arms and
feet still.

Do not try to sing louder than the others. You will not be heard any
better and will strain your voice.

Remember to hold the long note for its full count.

Time and rhythm are the two great factors in chorus singing.

Remember that "rests" are of as great importance as "notes" in music.

Do not start before or hang on after the others have ceased to sing.

Do not fail to slightly accentuate the first beat of each measure except
where accents are especially marked on other beats.

Don't look bored because you must stand up to sing. Determine whether
you are going to be =too tired= to do your part before becoming a member
of a chorus.

Keep your eyes on the conductor.


I have never met a singer, amateur or professional, who does not or has
not at some time suffered from this dreadful malady. There is no
positive cure but constantly appearing before an audience, and then some
of the singers never overcome this form of nervousness.

The only consolation is in knowing that a person entirely void of this
feeling will never make an artist, as they are lacking in temperament.
Emotion is the flesh and blood of music and the condition is one in
which self-consciousness, nervous energy and emotion play a large part.
However, as you gain confidence in yourself and your work, and feel that
you are in "rapport" with your audience, this sensation will wear off to
a great extent.

Very few children before their teens are troubled with stage fright. In
fact, they seem to glory in appearing before an audience. This is the
best time to continue the work that will be of inestimable value the
balance of their lives. Let them appear before the classes in the studio
until they are prepared to appear in public.

When one begins to discuss nervousness, suggestion takes it up and it
spreads like wildfire. A young singer who had appeared several times in
the same solo and done excellent work was stepping on the stage to sing
when one of her friends thoughtlessly remarked: "Aren't you nervous
about that high 'C?'" The suggestion immediately lodged in her brain and
she could think of nothing but that high "C." Her fear increased and she
sang it with an almost heroic physical effort, a tone that had never
given her the least trouble before.

It is the confident friend who helps you to win your audience by the
encouraging remark, "I know you will be a success," while the one who

"Aren't you afraid you are going to break down?" in reality will assist
you in doing so. Always try and have the confident friends around you,
especially in the earlier stage of your career.

There is an erroneous idea about not eating before singing. If you are
nervous there is nothing so dangerous as trying to sing on an empty
stomach. I know of singers who eat nothing on the day they are going to
sing, the result being increased nervousness caused from weakness.

I would not advise a big meal before singing, but I would advise taking
something, depending entirely on the individual. A cup of black coffee,
a glass of water, a glass of claret, an orange, a raw egg, or anything
that agrees with you. Give the stomach some work to do and that "giddy
feeling" will entirely disappear. I always take a raw egg before

One of our noted tenors, before walking out on the stage, lights a
cigarette, takes three puffs and throws it away. Three puffs could be of
very little value, but he imagines he sings better. Judging from his age
and voice, and its endurance, it has evidently not injured him, though I
would not advise singers to use tobacco.

Those suffering from phlegm in the throat will find almost instant
relief in eating a dry prune. I acquired this habit in Italy, where it
is very popular with the singers. Dried prunes are beneficial for the
general health as well as the throat. Find what agrees with you, for
what might be agreeable to one may be disagreeable to another.

When you step out on the stage take time to fully relax, get your mind
on the introduction your accompanist is playing. This prepares you for
your song. Look =beyond= your audience, not =at= them.

By this time you will have fairly good control of yourself. Think of
=what you are going to sing=, and not of how you are feeling. Sing to your
audience as if you were telling them a story. Speak distinctly and make
them understand and feel what you are saying. Don't wear anything that
binds you, such as tight shoes, tight corsets or tight collars, as they
all tend to contract instead of relax. It is through nervousness that
singers have "wobbled" off the stage after their solo, before the
accompanist has finished. Remember in the interval between the end of
your solo and the last note of the accompaniment you should stand
perfectly still. Say to your audience (mentally), "Don't move until the
accompaniment is finished." You will be surprised to see how well you
can hold them. All these little thoughts will help make you forget

I once read an article on stage fright. The author advised the singer to
look at his audience as though they were so many cabbage heads. I
cannot agree with him. You, no doubt, have heard people sing as though
they were inspired. I have felt that way many times when singing, and I
am sure my audience inspired me. It would have been impossible to sing
like that to empty chairs or a field of cabbage heads.

Analyze yourself and your work as much as you please at home, but when
you go before an audience, forget yourself and let your aim be to win


I find that only about one in every hundred, who study voice culture,
are able to accompany themselves on the piano. Nearly all know the
keyboard and can get along after a fashion, therefore it is necessary
that the student of voice culture should secure a first-class

Your voice teacher here, or abroad, is always in a position to furnish
you with one. You must arrange for his services at least twice a week.
You can have no idea of the progress this will mean in your work. If you
are asked to sing at an entertainment, do not take anyone's word that
"there will be a good accompanist on hand," but see to it yourself. If
it is not possible for you to have your own accompanist, be sure that
you have ample time for rehearsal, and if the accompanist present is not
a good one, =do not sing=.

A poor accompanist has been the cause of the failure of many young
singers who are anxious to get before the public.

The young and inexperienced singer cannot be too particular on this
point, and I would suggest that amateurs during their first few
appearances before the public sing only with an accompanist with whom
they have become accustomed to sing. All young singers are more or less
nervous; in fact, I know very few old ones who are not, and this is
where your own accompanist proves of the greatest value.

One of my pupils who made her debut said, "I had a sensation as of a
lump in my throat, and felt that at the end of the pause I =must= swallow
or choke. My accompanist had played for me before and seemed to
anticipate my predicament, so gave me a little more time on that 'pause'
and I was saved. With a strange accompanist, I would have gone to

Because a singer is an amateur, their parents and friends seem to think
that anyone can play their accompaniments. The truth of the matter is,
the less experienced the singer, the better the accompanist must be.
Good accompanists are born, not made.

To be sure, practice makes perfect, but I know of many fine pianists who
read well, have time, rhythm, technique, execution, and yet who will
never make good accompanists. It takes all of these and more.

Nothing makes failure more certain than the blundering of an
inexperienced and unskilled accompanist.


It is not always that the best read man on voice culture makes the best
teacher; in fact, we find that teachers, who have not been singers
themselves, but who have devoted years to the study of the physical and
technical side of the question have turned out very few good singers.

In order to make a good teacher, one must first have command of his own
voice in order to make perfect demonstrations which are essential to the
beginner. Further, a teacher in order to be successful must have
practical experience with the world and singers. No two voices can be
treated in the same manner. Therefore, the teacher with the practical
experience is naturally far better equipped to teach than the one who
has merely studied the mechanism of the throat.

It is positively harmful for a teacher to make any attempt to explain
the technical side of the voice to a =beginner=. Better develop the ear
and memory. A teacher must have patience and tact in order to be able to
deal with the different natures, dispositions and moods that are
encountered in the studio. One word of kindness and encouragement will
invariably do more toward putting a pupil at his ease and secure the
best results from his work than any number of severe sermons and
sarcastic criticisms.

The pupils are paying for their lessons and are entitled to courteous
treatment. Avoid the nervous, irritable teacher. The teacher who becomes
impatient or ruffled because a pupil cannot instantly grasp his meaning,
walking up and down the floor with clenched fists chastising the air,
and in every way displaying his own nerves and lack of self-control, is
not a =teacher=, but a =fool=. Such a person has either forgotten his own
earlier struggles or had never studied.

Avoid the teacher with a hobby. There is nothing so barren in the world
as one idea, spring from one idea, nourished by one idea and aiming at
one idea. This includes the teacher who believes in keeping the pupil on
one tone for six months. While your tone needs more than six months to
become perfect, dwelling on that one tone alone for that length of time
would be decidedly wrong.

We frequently accept students who have acquired numerous bad habits in
breathing or singing. They often know their trouble and ask how long it
will take to undo this work and get back into the right way. They seem
to think it is a matter of a certain time working back to the beginning
and then starting over again. This is not true. It is a matter of
beginning =now= and beginning right. The thoughts of a pupil should be
=advance=, not =retreat=. You must not think of what you =have done=, but
what you =must do=.

Avoid the teacher who advances theories and mechanical contrivances. A
laryngoscope in the hands of a physician might save many lives, but in
the hands of a singing teacher may ruin many voices. The perfect teacher
uses the simplest demonstrations, realizing that technical terms go
entirely over the heads of the beginner. The following suggestions are
entirely useless:

Sing the tone forward.

Sing the tone on the teeth.

Sing over your larynx.

Sing that tone with the epiglottis lowered, the palate raised, and on
the end of the breath.

I have personally heard these instructions given to pupils, and I assure
you the pupil did not gain anything by it.

It is positively absurd to insist on a beginner knowing the structures
of the vocal chords, neither will the patting, pinching or massaging of
the neck and facial muscles, that some teachers advocate, make you sing
any better. It is undoubtedly of some benefit to "wrinkles," but not to
the voice.

Garcia, admitted to be one of the greatest singing masters of his time,
said, regarding the position of larynx being higher or lower or the more
or less raising of the palate, that the singer need only follow natural
effects, and larynx, palate and the rest will take care of themselves.
Do not complicate it with theories.

A new pupil went into the studio of a well-known teacher for a hearing.
She took with her a popular song--the only song which she knew. The
teacher cried "Trash," and would not even talk the matter over. This was
foolish, selfish and unreasonable.

Every voice which comes under our care includes the personality behind
the voice, and is of distinct and special interest. This pupil's
=environment= had undoubtedly been such that she was not further developed
and could hardly be expected to love and understand the music, which the
teacher was accustomed to perform or teach. However, many a singer, who
first brought the popular song, has developed into a successful church
and concert singer. This was not brought about by reprimands and unkind
criticisms of their short-comings, but by patient consideration and
gradual development. Give the pupil a chance to learn to perform good
music before you demand that they should appreciate it. A good teacher
will encourage questions. If there are any questions pertaining to the
study of voice culture that he cannot answer it is time he should know.

Unless a teacher is a perfect accompanist, so that he can keep his eyes
away from the keyboard, he should employ an accompanist, for the
teacher should =see= as well as =hear= the pupil sing the finished numbers.

And last, but not least, select a teacher who tries to understand you,
who makes you feel at ease, and who shows as much interest in your voice
as in your pocketbook.


How many musicians live up to this much-abused term? In my travels here
and abroad I have found just two whose lives were entirely devoted to
"art for art's sake". They both reminded me of the last act of Beau
Brummell, and certainly did not suggest happiness. To fully live up to
"art for art's sake," one must necessarily have means, and you would be
surprised to know how few of those who are in position to live up to it,
do so. Singers, in whom you would expect to find a demonstration,--real
musicians, to whom the whole world has bent its knee,--will stand up
before an audience and sing a little popular waltz song, a la "After the
Ball,"--a song we would consider too inferior to allow one of our pupils
to sing. Is this "art for art's sake?" Where then should we look for a
demonstration, if not in the finished singer or artist?

Do not these singers know better? Certainly, but they study their
audience, give the few their best, and the masses what they want. In
search for "art for art's sake," we turn to the "artist," and we find
him trying to please the audience.

We are living in a very material age. If you can afford to do so, live
art for art's sake in your home, but if you have to make your living,
and cope with the world to make a success, you must study your audience;
they paid their money and want to be entertained. You can strike a happy
medium, where you will not lower your dignity, as a singer and an

I notice that those who "rant" and "storm" on the subject of "art for
art's sake" seldom live it, of which we were given a fair demonstration
when one of our disciples of "art for art's sake" went on a "concert"
tour and was so anxious to "please" his audience, that the program was a
perfect vaudeville performance. It is needless to say that the "artist"
was severely criticised. Don't bill yourself as a concert singer and
then give a vaudeville performance. Use judgment. Watch the teacher who
is constantly talking "art for art's sake." Note to how many struggling
musicians he holds out a helping hand and how much of his time and life
he devotes to "art for art's sake."

We teachers charge enough for our lessons to make it possible for us to
devote an evening a week "to art for art's sake"; invite our pupils,
talk, sing, take up the biographies of the old masters, do ensemble
work; study the oratories and operas. I am sure this would help create a
greater love and understanding of the better things in music, for the
more we hear it, the more we love it. This would go further in helping
to create a love and understanding of "art for art's sake," and would be
a greater test of our sincerity.

Debussy, the well-known composer of Peleas and Melisande, says in an
article on "Art for Art's Sake": "Don't talk to me about elevating
public taste. That is the greatest 'bluff' one can din into your ears.
Just think for a moment what the public is composed of. How many in the
audience understand music? How many devote themselves to music during
the day? An infinitesimal number. The rest, where do they come from?
From offices, stores, business houses of some kind, or they come from
teas and gossip, and then they go to hear the opera. Most of them are
tired after a day's work or idleness, and such people you expect to take
an interest in serious music. Impossible! No; the only thing you can do
for the public is to lift it, for one moment, out of its daily thoughts,
and with that we have to be content. Under such conditions, what
difference does it make whether you have German, Italian or French
opera? There is no immovable truth in art. You cannot say this is so or
so, and what difference do the means make as long as the end is
accomplished? If Italian opera is more effective than German opera, what
does it matter? All art is untruth. You may have been told that art is
eternal because it is true, but there you are mistaken."

[Illustration: ANDREAS DIPPEL

Of the Metropolitan Grand Opera and General Manager of the Chicago Grand
Opera, who through his tireless and skillful service is meeting with
great success in the establishing of permanent Grand Opera in the larger
cities west of New York, is an enthusiastic supporter of the Grand Opera
in the vernacular, giving the many excellent American singers an
opportunity to make their début in this country and in their own
language. Mr. Dippel predicts the time is not far distant when New York
will establish the home of the National Grand Opera.]


The musician who refuses to make certain concessions to the public gives
proof of courage, but not of wisdom. One cannot expect to go before an
audience and sing over their heads, and by so doing educate them up to
one's own standard of music.

You must reach down from your lofty ideals and meet the public on its
own ground.

For example, in creating a love for the grand opera (which the people,
especially of the west, up to a few years ago have had no chance of
hearing), you must proceed gradually, carefully and with tact.

Teachers of voice culture should organize grand opera study clubs, give
concerts, using selections from the popular grand opera--I mean by
popular grand opera "Il Trovatore," "Carmen," "Faust," etc. These
operas contain airs that are attractive, and can be followed by the

It would not be long before the grand opera would share honors with the
now flourishing musical comedy in the affections of the music-loving
public, and the term "grand opera" would not sound to them like a

In Brooklyn one afternoon I passed a number of boys coming from school,
and was astonished to hear them whistling "Tannhauser." While this would
be quite natural in Europe it is rather unusual here, where the popular
song has the upper hand with the young folks. I made inquiries and found
that a phonograph had been installed in the school and that every
morning the pupils listened to selections from the grand operas. My
already good opinion of the value of the phonograph was strengthened, as
I fully realize what effect hearing good music in the public schools
would have on the coming generation.

In order to fully appreciate a difficult composition one must have made
a study of music, same as a doctor, in order to appreciate a lecture on
some intricate subject about his profession, must have made a study of
that profession.

The painter sees in a great painting the beauties of execution that
entirely escape the eyes of the uninitiated; yet the musician will go
before an audience of whom two-thirds have probably never studied music
at all, and expect them to appreciate the classical music, and because
they do not, he would brand them as unappreciative, absurd; he expects
the impossible.

The average audience does not care for the name of a composition as long
as the music appeals to them, and this is generally a matter of how it
is interpreted.

The power of a beautiful interpretation does not make itself felt in
singing classics alone. Many persons harbor the notion that
interpretation relates to the work of the dead masters only. This is not
true. The simplest song needs interpretation, as well as the oratorio or
opera and the difference between good and bad artists is largely a
matter of interpretation. A simple song that emanates from the heart and
soul, will have a reciprocal effect on others and will outlive all
sermons in the memory.

The average audience goes to the concert, not to be educated, but to be
entertained. Entertain them, interest them, win them and they will come

After you have endeared yourself to them, you can begin to sing more
pretentious music, and before they realize it, they are listening to and
enjoying the works of the great masters.

I have seen a vast audience go to hear Patti sing "Home, Sweet Home,"
and while listening they became acquainted with other songs, that by
hearing again and again, have helped to educate them to appreciate the
better music.

I love the "oratorios" and "grand operas" particularly. They are part of
my life. But I do not expect all with whom I come in contact to feel the

I have seen more people asleep at a piano recital than I have at church,
and I did not blame them, when some amateur would be wrestling with a
twenty-page selection of which he had not the slightest conception, with
the exception of being able to read the notes and find them on the

Let us not become so blinded that we can see only one way--our way.

In educating the masses let us not begin by driving them away with
compositions which they cannot understand.

Art has no fatherland, and all that is beautiful should be prized by us,
no matter how simple or what clime or region produced it.

When you hear someone dwelling on the fact that Mansfield did not ask
his audience what play they wanted, neither did Patti ask them what she
should sing, the argument is ridiculous. Bear this in mind: The audience
did not go to hear "Il Barbiere" or "Peer Gynt," they went to hear Patti
and see Mansfield, and what they rendered was only incidental to the
fact that they were Patti and Mansfield, people in whom the public was
interested. But while they were listening to these artists they became
acquainted with the better works.

So leave it to the "finished artist" to produce the great works. You are
an amateur and have your little share to do in educating the masses.
Don't begin by giving a difficult program. Sing something simple, that
you are perfectly familiar with, and don't be afraid of the new
compositions. It is surprising that even old singers fear a new song.
Select something with pretty melody and rhythm and you are perfectly

Always be on the lookout for something you can identify with yourself,
just as the artists all have some favorite song.


Get out in the fresh air at least once a day, summer and winter.

If you are in good health, =walk= in preference to riding.

Get plenty of sleep. It is better than all other tonics.

If you are "out of sorts," try a little "new thought," or "mental
science." It may be all you need.

Sponge your neck, chest and back with cold water every morning.

Girls, accustom yourselves to wearing your waists minus collars.

Boys, wear your collars loose. The artists all do.

Never bundle your neck in winter. A light covering will do.

Eat what agrees with you, and avoid going on diets, if possible.

If you desire to gain weight or put on more flesh, you must eat plenty
of nourishing food at least three times a day, drink plenty of pure
fresh water, good rich milk, ale, malt extracts, and everything that
agrees with you.

Should you desire to reduce your weight, eat sparingly--a shredded wheat
biscuit, some dry toast with a cup of coffee in the morning. At noon eat
one or more oranges, and nothing else. For dinner take only one kind of
meat or fish, a vegetable, a fruit, a salad, some dried toast, with a
cup of black coffee or tea. Use no potatoes, butter or cream.

There is no special diet for singers. It is only necessary to keep in
good health, take plenty of exercise, and eat and drink only those
things which agree with you.

Pose your speaking voice low, as it not only benefits the voice, but it
denotes refinement.

Robusto tenors are high baritones with the head tones developed.

Saddle riding, walking, physical culture, fencing, dancing, elocution,
the study of any instrument will all be of some value in helping you to
become an artist.

Use your brains more than your throat.

Don't be impatient because things do not come your way at once. Rome was
not built in one day.

Let your study of music cultivate within you a sympathy and love for all
that is artistic.

Do not be unjustly prejudiced against good music because you do not
understand it. Hear that class of music more, and it will overcome your

Acquaint yourself with the old masters and works before you take up the

Keep young in mind and thought, and the body will not grow old.

Think for yourself and =think=.

Don't worry, for worry is born largely of misdirected ambition.

When someone is singing, do not shrug your shoulders and assume a pained
expression, so as to impress those who may be sitting near you that you
are a great critic.

Have you ever thought what a desolate place this world would be without

Never neglect an opportunity to hear a great singer. If your means are
limited, subdue your pride, for it is far better to sit in the gallery
and be able to hear ten "artist concerts" than to sit in the orchestra
and be able to hear only one.

Be willing to sacrifice much for your music.

Associate as much as possible with people who =know more= about music than
you do. Read everything you can find on the subject. You will find =some=
truth in all of it.

When you attend a concert look forward for the best only--don't be a
pessimist, be an optimist, and you will derive much more benefit. Don't
criticize audibly when someone is singing. =An artist never does.=

Before going to hear an artist sing, acquaint yourself as much as
possible with the program.

While under one instructor, do not run around to other studios to have
your voice tried. It is undignified, and reflects on your teacher, as
well as upon yourself.

Become a sight reader by reading at sight.

You can break yourself from clearing your throat by not clearing it. You
will be surprised to find it was only a habit.

Punctuality at the studio is essential. Ten minutes early for your
lesson is better than two minutes late.

If there is anything about your lesson that you do not understand, ask
questions. You are paying for information.

Practice systematically if you expect to make a success.

Beginners should practice only fifteen minutes at a time.

The scales are the backbone of music study.

Remember your consonants are of as great value as your vowels.

In singing, you must use both your nose and mouth for breathing.

Always stand up when practicing your exercises.

Memorize all your songs.

When asked to sing, sing songs with which you are perfectly familiar.

Stand on both feet and let your chest, not your stomach lead.

If you expect to sing well, leave the tight collar, the tight corset and
the tight shoes at home.

It is better to stand too near the footlights than too far back.

If you are not an expert at handling a train on the stage, don't wear

While waiting for the introduction to be played, don't count the
footlights or the stars, but look out beyond the audience, rather in
with your eyes and nose.

When holding music, never hold it high enough to cover your face from
the audience.

Sing =to= your audience, not =at= it.

Try and look pleasant, even if you don't feel that way. The audience
can't help it.

Never fail to give a smile or word of encouragement to other beginners
who may be on the same program with you.

It is certainly appalling to know how many good singers have bad stage

A man must never put either one or both hands in his trouser pockets,
nor stand with his feet spread far apart while singing. Both of these
faults denote improper training.

If you are ever so warm, use your handkerchief only before or after you
leave the stage.

Correct dress is essential.

For a man, for informal entertainments, black suit, black shoes, white
shirt, collar and cuffs, with either a black or white tie. For concert,
only evening dress is appropriate.

For girls, the nicest thing to wear is a gown; if you do not wear one,
try to have your waist and skirt correspond in shade. The so-called
shirtwaist effect, which is produced by waist and skirt of different
colors, is not effective on the stage.

Wear hose and slippers of the same color if possible.

Amateurs when on the stage frequently rearrange a tie or smooth back a
stray curl, etc.; this is but a form of nervousness and looks bad.
Finish your toilet at home.

For ease and grace take dancing lessons.

The graduate from dancing and dramatic schools never appear ill at ease
before company.


It is not so much =what=, but =how= you practice. The average beginner takes
up his practice in an aimless sort of way. Every action should have some
result in view. After taking your lesson, if you find you are not
positive as to the proper course to be pursued at home, you must ask
your teacher the questions necessary to put you on the right path. You
should have all your work laid out for you and go about it in a
systematic manner. Only in this way can you hope to achieve any degree
of success.

A beginner should not practice much more than five minutes at a time on
each construction, neither would much less than that be sufficient to
accustom that set of muscles to that one construction. Never practice
your limit tones at either end of your range as much as you do your
middle register. What I mean by middle register is low enough to
produce chest and high enough to produce head tones. If you can produce
a fine middle register, the high tones will naturally follow in time.
Melba says, "On days when my high tones do not come easily in practice,
I do not sing them." Do not show or cover your teeth because you have
seen some singers do so; individual construction differs.

Pronounce your words naturally and distinctly, never forgetting the
consonants at the end of the words. Don't think because you are singing
from a Marchesi book that you are studying her method. You are getting
the method of the teacher with whom you are studying. There are but two
ways of singing--"right" and "wrong"--and it makes little difference
from what instruction book you are taking your lesson, they are all good
and all constructed on the same principles. The main thing is knowing
=what= you are trying to do.

Many pupils who are poor readers worry through several exercise books,
and at the end of that time have only memorized the notes and made no
progress whatever on the main point--tone.

The pupil should learn to use the ear, mind and memory, and a great deal
of time would be gained in tone placing which should be taken up before
using an exercise book. If you are not a sight reader, take up this
study at once, preferably in class work, as it is absolutely necessary
that you should be able to read music at sight.

Antiquated and complicated systems of sight reading are responsible for
many poor readers. We need more ear =training= and ability to =think=. Avoid
the use of the do-re-me syllables unless you are already proficient in
that system. Practice with the pitch names, A, B, C, D, and with the
scale numbers, 1, 2, 3, 4, in order to acquire a relationship of the
tones of the scale, otherwise the syllable "la" or any other syllable
will do.

If you have an "off day," when all the work seems to go wrong, don't
practice. Mechanical work is of no value whatever in singing. Even the
artists have their "off days," but don't allow these days to become too

The best position for practice is to stand naturally, clasp your hands
in front or let them hang carelessly and naturally at your sides.
Clasping your hands behind your back or resting them on your hips, are
both bad positions for singing.

When you practice do not simply kill fifteen minutes' time. Mere
practice makes a mechanical gymnast, while study produces a musician.

In taking up your exercises use the instrument as little as possible.
For illustration we will take the arpeggio.

Play the arpeggio until you are perfectly familiar with the
construction, then =sing= it once =with= the piano, then play only the chord
or keynote and sing the arpeggio =without= the piano; continue in this way
in all the keys within your range, getting your pitch from the chord or
keynote; this manner of practice is of the greatest value, as you can
stand in a natural singing position and as you do not have to give part
of your thought to the music or instrument, you pay more attention to
the pitch and tone, so that when you come to arias with recitatives
=without= accompaniment, you will not have as much difficulty staying on
pitch as those who invariably depend on the support of the instrument.

In songs you should pursue the same course, play the most difficult
passages, "memorize them" before you attempt to sing them; in this way
you do not unnecessarily tire the voice. Memorize all your songs; it is
only after you get away from the reading that you are capable of doing
your best work. Always practice before a mirror and you will not be so
liable to acquire facial contortions and would soon overcome the very
bad habit of lifting the shoulders when you "see yourself as others see

Pupils frequently ask why it is so much easier to sing an exercise on
"ah" than to sing a sentence. In the "ah" you only have one vowel, while
in the sentence there are both vowels and consonants. By diligent
practice you will soon find that the tone helps the word, and the words
help the tone.

Another complaint frequently heard in the studio is this: "I sang this
exercise perfectly at home, and can't see why I am unable to sing it
now." How many times did you sing this exercise perfectly at home. Don't
consider an exercise learned until you can sing it ten times in
succession =without an error=.

Lillie Lehmann says: "I expended ten years in perfecting the trill which
every voice must master," and yet some pupils become discouraged
because they can not master the art of singing in a few months!

Many singers complain of a contraction (hardness under the chin). This
is frequently found where they have been taught to place the tip of the
tongue against the back of the lower teeth to keep the tongue down.
Leave the tongue limp and speak your vowels and consonants perfect and
distinct, and the tongue will take care of itself.

Those who are working to produce low tones will find that in the
morning, immediately after rising, the lower tones respond most readily
and may help you to find a way of increasing the lower range.

Don't neglect the scales. Many years ago Madame Patti, while on a
concert tour, was awakened from her early morning sleep by the sound of
a piano in a room close to hers. It was slow scale practicing and was
maddening to the singer. She rang the bell, and demanded that the
practice be at once discontinued. What was her astonishment to learn
that the player was not some beginner as she had supposed, but the great
artist, Hans Von Bulow.

Why is the so-called Italian method supposed to be the correct method of
singing? Partly because the Italian "a" (as you would pronounce "ä") is
the most natural sound that can be sung, and as the "ä" is the sound
used in two-thirds of the words in the song you sing, it plays an
important part in singing.

Very few beginners realize that it is not only the words "law," "raw,"
"saw," "tall," "hall," etc., that contain the Italian "ä," but also the
words "light," "bright," "might."

In the word "night," the beginner usually dwells on the "ee," making it
"na-=ee=t," while it =should be= pronounced "n=aw=-eet," dwelling on the "ä."

The Italian vowels cover the sound, tone color and pronunciation of the
Latin, English, Italian and German, with the exception of the German "o"
and "ü."

With the French it is quite different. The sound and production stands
by itself. A French singer does not so readily sing the other languages,
neither does an American in the same length of time master the French as
well as the other languages. The French insist on =perfect diction=, and
one of our grand opera singers who delights the New York opera goers by
her singing of "Faust," "Carmen," etc., in the French, would not be
tolerated at the opera in Paris on account of her diction.

As the French is the diplomatic language of the world, it would be well
to take up this language first. Then study your Italian for your singing
and you will find the Spanish, Latin and German can be easily mastered.

Study only those songs which have merit. "After the Ball" was composed
within the past twenty years, and over 3,000,000 copies have been sold,
yet this song is both dead and buried, while the "Earl King," by
Schubert, composed in 1798, is today found upon practically all the
programs of our noted singers.

When taking up a new song read the words over carefully and get an idea
what you are going to sing about before you try to sing it. Never
breathe in the middle of a word, or break a sentence by taking a


The foundation upon which you have to build your voice is the =breath=,
and like all other foundations, it must be properly laid, or the
structure will be a failure. It is imperative that you have absolute and
perfect =control= of the breath. An athlete once said to me, "If breath is
the foundation of good singing, I certainly should make a fine singer,
as I have the largest chest expansion and can hold my breath the longest
time of anyone in the college." The truth is, a small girl, weighing
ninety-six pounds, who had less than one-fifth of his chest expansion,
had twice the volume of sound-carrying power in tone, and could sustain
a tone three times as long as he.

To practice breathing is not practicing singing, and the teacher who
keeps a pupil indefinitely on "breathing lessons" is either "killing
time" or is not a proficient instructor of voice culture.

It should be taken for granted that all healthy persons breathe

It is not the breathing, but the power of control, which is of vital
importance. It may be that after taking "breathing lessons" for a period
of six months that you will still be far from able to control the breath
=on the tone=. It is the way you practice, rather than the length of time
which brings proficient results.

You will find by referring to the chapter on "Practical Exercises" that
I demonstrate the matter thoroughly.

A good tone should have =resonance=, or what we call "vibration," but not
"tremolo." Many young singers confuse these two. Undoubtedly it is just
as bad to sing with a straight, cold, unmusical tone as it is to produce
an exaggerated "vibrato" or "tremolo."

If you are unable to make the distinction between these two, do not fail
to consult someone who can do so, that you may not enter the pitfalls,
which it takes months to overcome.

You cannot realize =how little breath= is necessary =on the tone=; we sing
with a great amount of =pressure=, but with =very little breath=. Have you
ever taken a covered head tone without scarcely taking any breath, and
found that you could sustain it for a practically unlimited period?

I found one of my pupils who had elsewhere taken a course in =breathing=,
in taking a tone, would push her breath out so hard that you heard more
=breath= than =tone=. In singing a tone or short sentence, her chest would
collapse and she would become, as she termed it, "All out of breath."
She would give me all kinds of wonderful breath demonstrations, but
could not connect the =breath= and =tone=.

I requested her to speak in a natural way the sentence, "This is a very
beautiful day." I asked her if she could hear a lot of escaping breath?
She answered, "No." I then asked her to place one hand across the ribs
and one across the chest and center her thoughts directly at these two
points to see if she could ascertain what was taking place there, while
once again in a natural speaking voice she repeated the sentence. She
did so, and found she was =not= "out of breath," and that her chest did
=not= collapse and she did not feel any discomfort. I then asked her to
repeat the sentence on the medium tone "E" above middle "C," then on
"F," then on "G," directing her each time to think she was merely
=speaking= the sentence, and then for the first time in her life she was
able to understand =control of breath=. During the next lesson we were
able to begin "tone placing" without the least trouble in connecting the
breath and tone. =Try it yourself.=

All kinds of athletics, breathing lessons or exercises in moderation
are beneficial, but they are not voice culture. As your breath plays a
most important part in =tone placing=, the breath and tone should start
together, hand in hand, from the very beginning. In the following
chapter I shall give some practical exercises that will give the BREATH
and =tone= a chance to become acquainted with each other.


Stand erect, but not in a strained position. Place the palm of your
hands over your ribs, pointing the fingers forward. (See Figure 1.)

=Exhale= by blowing slowly through the closed lips, very much as though
you were blowing on embers to make them burn. In doing this, you will
find that your finger tips will almost meet in front. (See Figure 2.)

Keep your hands in the same position and =inhale= through the nose. You
will notice a large space in front between your hands. (See Figure 3.)

Keeping your hands in the same position, repeat this exercise five
times; then drop your arms to your sides, relax and rest a few moments,
repeating this exercise several times until it comes easy.

[Illustration: five images of the rib-cage doing breath exercises.]

Go before an open window every morning, place your hands as in figure 4,
inhale through the nose, (don't raise the shoulders) see that the
expansion is as great under the left hand as under the right hand (as in
figure 5) while holding the breath count 5 (aloud) then exhale while
holding the hands in same position, repeat this exercise 5 times in
succession. A positive cure for all forms of nervousness.]

Be sure when =inhaling= you do not use enough muscular exertion to take
enough breath to cause lifting of the shoulders, which is decidedly

Place your hands as in the first position, exhale, then inhale and,
while you keep the ribs extended against your hands, which is done by
holding the breath and by muscular tension, speak the sentence, "This is
a beautiful day," then exhale, inhale again, holding the breath while
you repeat the sentence. Repeat this several times, then drop your arms
to the sides and rest.

It is better at the beginning to take =too little= breath than to take =too
much=. Most beginners take too much breath, which makes it impossible to
control it. Until you understand control of the breath, it is better to
only take enough to extend your ribs against your hand as far as they
will go =without discomfort=.

Don't let anyone tell you that "diaphragmatic," "intercostal" or
"abdominal" breathing =alone= is the only safe course; perfect breathing
is a =combination= of these and more.

By practicing the above exercises you will find in a short time all the
organs that nature intended to be used for breathing will be in play.

The reason the beginner is instructed to place the hands on the ribs is
to work from the =central= point, and as the student progresses, by
continuation of the exercises it will be found that the costal,
intercostal, dorsal, diaphragmatic and abdominal muscles are all doing
their share.

Place your hands as in the first position. =Exhale--inhale.= Sustain the
syllable "saw" on an easy medium tone. As you attack the tone do not let
the ribs collapse, but as you sustain it, let the ribs very slowly
collapse under the palm of your hands. Try to resist so as to not let
too much breath escape. Don't let your chest collapse any more than is
absolutely necessary. The lower the tones you sing the =less= resistance
you need, while the higher tones you sing the =more= resistance you need.
In order to sustain a high tone, =draw in= slightly under the ribs,
leaving the chest extended. Singing the tone, now takes the place of the
=exhaling= exercise.

[Illustration: musical notation, saw ...saw ...saw ...]

The word "saw," besides giving you the vowel "ä," also gives you the
correct sound of the Italian "ah" and what the "ah" should be in

The average beginner sings too much on the tone color of "a" as in =hat=,
which, as you ascend the scale, would finally land the tone in the
region of the back of your neck.

In learning to sing the "ah" or Italian "ä," always use words like
"saw," "raw," "law," "paw," "daw," "gnaw," sustaining the tone.


a e i o u

Pronounced: a as ä in saw

e as a in fate

i as ee in meet

o as o in note

u as oo in moon


[Illustration: musical notation demonstrating pronounciation ä ā ee o oo]

In ascending the scale, you should cover the tone. To cover the tone
simply put a little more "o" in your "ah," so that by the time you are
up near your high limit tone you should almost be singing "so," "lo,"
"dough." This enables you to find your head tone. It will not be "low"
or "dough" but a good "ah." If you do =not gradually curve the "ah" into
an "o"= toward your high tones, you will find them turning into the "a"
as in hat.

In producing head tones there are two valuable exercises I would

[Illustration: THE VOWELS, images of faces pronouncing the vowels:

a as ä in saw.     e as ā in fate.

i as ee in meet.

o as o in note.    u as oo in moon.]

Positions of the mouth in pronouncing the vowels.] Drop your jaw as in
singing "saw"; leave the jaw dropped singing "saw," but curving your
lips into an "o." You will find an "oh" with fine head resonance and an
open relaxed throat.


[Illustration: musical notation, ä o ä o ä o ä o ä o ä o ä o ä o ä o]

Sing this exercise in all the keys within your range.

Some find their head tones first by humming through the nose, while to
some this suggestion would be of no value.

If you have a break or any trouble going from your high to low tones,
practice the exercise from the high tone down instead of from the low
tone up.


[Illustration: musical notation,

o a      o a      o a

saw      saw      saw

If you have trouble rolling your "r's", which is absolutely necessary,
practice the following words in two syllables, not, however, dropping
the tone.


Tree as tau-ree.

Trust as tau-rust.

True as tau-rue

Breeze as b-reeze.

Train as tau-rain.

Bright as b-right.

Brown as b-rown.

=After= you have mastered the rolled "r" through the above exercises,
pronounce them in one syllable as they should be.

Next, take up your consonants before the vowel


musical notation,

Baw, bay, bee, bo, boo   Baw, bay, bee, bo, boo        Baw, bay, bee, bo, boo

Daw, day, dee, do, doo   Daw, day, dee, do, doo        Daw, day, dee, do, doo

Faw, fay, etc.           Faw, fay, etc.                Faw, fay, etc.

Gaw, gay, etc.           Gaw, gay, etc.                Gaw, gay, etc.

Haw, hay, etc.           Haw, hay, etc.                Haw, hay, etc.

J, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, y, z.]

until you have covered all the consonants.

Then your final consonants, as in "late," "date," "light," "bright."

In the word "date," make your "d" and your "a" distinct and =on the tone=,
but as you pronounce your "t," which must also be distinct, drop the
tone so as not to leave an "after-tone." This must be done in all words
except those ending with "m" and "n."

Next build sentences from words which seem most difficult to you and
sing the entire sentence on one sustained tone.


[Illustration: musical notation repeating Now the day is over. Now the
day is over. Now the day is over.]

In a song where some particular phrase or sentence seems difficult to
you, sing the entire phrase or sentence on one sustained tone,
pronouncing the words distinctly until you have gone down several tones
=below= and several tones =above= the pitch in which it is written, singing
it over and over on the one sustained tone in all the keys of your
range. I cannot tell you of the benefit you will derive from mastering a
difficult phrase or sentence in this manner.

For the hardness and muscular contraction under the chin, which has
undoubtedly been brought about by "methods" advocating the placing of
the tip of the tongue against the back of the lower teeth, put your
thumb well up under your chin and see that there is no contraction
(hardness). Leave your tongue perfectly limp, and hum first through the
nose, gradually turning the humming into an "äo," "äo," "äo," then to
"oä," "oä," "oä," sustaining the tone and keeping the thumb pushed well
up under the chin to feel that there is no contraction. By using this
exercise you will be able to overcome this common fault in a very short
time, but you must go at it systematically.

In singing songs pronounce your words perfectly and distinctly, letting
the palate, glottis and larynx take care of themselves. If your method
of singing is good, =nothing= can injure your voice.

As this book voices the sentiment of some of the most brilliant lights
in the profession, and contains facts based on years of actual
experience, it is not egotistical for me to say that its careful,
thoughtful and conscientious perusal will give to the student of voice
culture assistance that will be of =inestimable value= in reaching his

Start with ease and naturalness and the chances are excellent for your
pathway to be illumned with =success=.


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