My Purpose

My purpose is to discuss simply, intelligibly, yet from a scientific

point of view, the sensations known to us in singing, and exactly

ascertained in my experience, by the expressions singing open,

covered, dark, nasal, in the head, or in the neck,

forward, or back. These expressions correspond to our sensations

in singing; but they are unintelligible as long as the causes of those

sensations are unknown, and everybody
has a different idea of them.

Many singers try their whole lives long to produce them and never

succeed. This happens because science understands too little of

singing, the singer too little of science. I mean that the

physiological explanations of the highly complicated processes of

singing are not plainly enough put for the singer, who has to concern

himself chiefly with his sensations in singing and guide himself by

them. Scientific men are not at all agreed as to the exact functions

of the several organs; the humblest singer knows something about them.

Every serious artist has a sincere desire to help others reach the

goal--the goal toward which all singers are striving: to sing well and


The true art of song has always been possessed and will always be

possessed by such individuals as are dowered by nature with all that

is needful for it--that is, healthy vocal organs, uninjured by vicious

habits of speech; a good ear, a talent for singing, intelligence,

industry, and energy.

In former times eight years were devoted to the study of singing--at

the Prague Conservatory, for instance. Most of the mistakes and

misunderstandings of the pupil could be discovered before he secured

an engagement, and the teacher could spend so much time in correcting

them that the pupil learned to pass judgment on himself properly.

But art to-day must be pursued like everything else, by steam. Artists

are turned out in factories, that is, in so-called conservatories, or

by teachers who give lessons ten or twelve hours a day. In two years

they receive a certificate of competence, or at least the diploma of

the factory. The latter, especially, I consider a crime, that the

state should prohibit.

All the inflexibility and unskilfulness, mistakes and deficiencies,

which were formerly disclosed during a long course of study, do not

appear now, under the factory system, until the student's public

career has begun. There can be no question of correcting them, for

there is no time, no teacher, no critic; and the executant has learned

nothing, absolutely nothing, whereby he could undertake to distinguish

or correct them.

The incompetence and lack of talent whitewashed over by the factory

concern lose only too soon their plausible brilliancy. A failure in

life is generally the sad end of such a factory product; and to

factory methods the whole art of song is more and more given over as a


I cannot stand by and see these things with indifference. My artistic

conscience urges me to disclose all that I have learned and that has

become clear to me in the course of my career, for the benefit of art;

and to give up my secrets, which seem to be secrets only because

students so rarely pursue the path of proper study to its end. If

artists, often such only in name, come to a realization of their

deficiencies, they lack only too frequently the courage to acknowledge

them to others. Not until we artists all reach the point when we can

take counsel with each other about our mistakes and deficiencies, and

discuss the means for overcoming them, putting our pride in our

pockets, will bad singing and inartistic effort be checked, and our

noble art of singing come into its rights again.