The practical study of singing is best begun with single sustained
tones, and with preparation on the sound of ah alone, mingled with
o and oo. A position as if one were about to yawn helps the tongue
to lie in the right place.
In order not to weary young voices too much, it is best to begin in
the middle range, going upward first, by semitones, and then, starting
again with the same tone, going downward.
All other exercises begin in
the lower range and go upward.
The pupil must first be able to make a single tone good, and judge it
correctly, before he should be allowed to proceed to a second. Later,
single syllables or words can be used as exercises for this.
The position of the mouth and tongue must be watched in the mirror.
The vowel ah must be mingled with o and oo, and care must be
taken that the breath is forced strongly against the chest, and felt
attacking here and on the palate at the same time. Begin piano, make
a long crescendo, and gradually return and end on a well-controlled
piano. My feeling at the attack is as shown in the plate.
At the same instant that I force the breath against the chest, I place
the tone under its highest point on the palate, and let the
overtones soar above the palate--the two united in one thought. Only
in the lowest range can the overtones, and in the highest range the
undertones (resonance of the head cavities and of the palate), be
With me the throat never comes into consideration; I feel absolutely
nothing of it, at most only the breath gently streaming through it. A
tone should never be forced; never press the breath against the
resonating chambers, but only against the chest; and NEVER hold it
back. The organs should not be cramped, but should be allowed to
perform their functions elastically.
The contraction of the muscles should never exceed their power to
relax. A tone must always be sung, whether strong or soft, with an
easy, conscious power. Further, before all things, sing always with
due regard to the pitch.
In this way the control of the ear is exercised over the pitch,
strength, and duration of the tone, and over the singer's strength and
weakness, of which we are often forced to make a virtue. In short, one
learns to recognize and to produce a perfect tone.
In all exercises go as low and as high as the voice will allow without
straining, and always make little pauses to rest between them, even if
you are not tired, in order to be all the fresher for the next one.
With a certain amount of skill and steady purpose the voice increases
its compass, and takes the proper range, easiest to it by nature.
The pupil can see then how greatly the compass of a voice can be
extended. For amateurs it is not necessary; but it is for every one
who practises the profession of a singer in public.
For a second exercise, sing connectedly two half-tones, slowly, on one
or two vowels, bridging them with the auxiliary vowels and the y as
the support of the tongue, etc.
Every tone must seek its best results from all the organs concerned in
its production; must possess power, brilliancy, and mellowness in
order to be able to produce, before leaving each tone, the propagation
form for the next tone, ascending as well as descending, and make it
No exercise should be dropped till every vibration of every tone has
clearly approved itself to the ear, not only of the teacher, but also
of the pupil, as perfect.
It takes a long time to reach the full consciousness of a tone. After
it has passed the lips it must be diffused outside, before it can
come to the consciousness of the listener as well as to that of the
singer himself. So practise singing slowly and hearing slowly.