The Cure

There are no magic cures for the singer. Only slowly, vibration upon

vibration, can the true pitch be won back. In the word soaring lies

the whole idea of the work. No more may the breath be allowed to flow

uncontrolled through the wearied vocal cords; it must be forced

against the chest, always, as if it were to come directly out thence.

The throat muscles must lie fallow until they have lost the habit of

cramped cont
action; until the overtones again soar as they should,

and are kept soaring long, though quite piano. At first this seems

quite impossible, and is indeed very difficult, demanding all the

patient's energy. But it is possible, and he cannot avoid it, for it

is the only way to a thorough cure. The patient has an extremely

disagreeable period to pass through. If he is industrious and careful,

he will soon find it impossible to sing in his old way; but the new

way is for the most part quite unfamiliar to him, because his ear

still hears as it has previously been accustomed to hear. It may be

that years will pass before he can again use the muscles, so long

maltreated. But he should not be dismayed at this prospect. If he can

no longer use his voice in public as a singer, he certainly can as a

teacher--for a teacher must be able to sing well. How should he

describe to others sensations in singing which he himself never felt?

Is it not as if he undertook to teach a language that he did not speak

himself? or an instrument that he did not play himself? When he

himself does not hear, how shall he teach others to hear?

The degree of the evil, and the patient's skill, naturally have much

to do with the rapidity of the cure. But one cannot throw off a habit

of years' standing like an old garment; and every new garment, too, is

uncomfortable at first. One cannot expect an immediate cure, either of

himself or of others. If the singer undertakes it with courage and

energy, he learns to use his voice with conscious understanding, as

should have been done in the beginning.

And he must make up his mind to it, that even after a good cure, the

old habits will reappear, like corns in wet weather, whenever he is

not in good form physically. That should not lead to discouragement;

persistence will bring success.

As I have already said, singers with disabled voices like best to try

magic cures; and there are teachers and pupils who boast of having

effected such magic cures in a few weeks or hours.

Of them I give warning! and equally, of unprincipled physicians

who daub around in the larynx, burn it, cut it, and make everything

worse instead of better.

I cannot comprehend why singers do not unite to brand such people

publicly and put an end to their doings once for all.

There is no other remedy than a slow, very careful study of the

causes of the trouble, which in almost all cases consist in lack of

control of the stream of breath through the vocal cords, and in

disregard of the head tones, that is, of the overtones; as well as in

forcing the pitch and power of the tone upon a wrong resonating point

of the palate, and in constricting the throat muscles. In these points

almost invariably are all mistakes to be looked for; and in the

recognition of them the proper means for correcting them are already


The cure is difficult and tedious. It needs an endless patience on the

part of the sufferer as well as of the physician--that is, of the

pupil and the singing teacher (the only proper physician for this

disease)--because the nerves of the head are already sufficiently

unstrung through the consciousness of their incapacity; yet they

should be able to act easily and without effort in producing the head


The repairing of a voice requires the greatest sympathetic

appreciation and circumspection on the part of the teacher, who should

always inspire the pupil with courage; and on the part of the pupil,

all his tranquillity, nervous strength, and patience, in order to

reach the desired goal.

Where there is a will there is a way!