Preparation For Teaching

There are many who become teachers of singing without knowing what they

are doing. No one who wishes to enter the profession should be kept out

of it. There is room in it for many times the number engaged. It is to

be earnestly recommended, however, that he who intends to become a

teacher should decide beforehand what kind of work he intends to do, and

after he has begun, he should bend his energy to make that branch

ccessful. There are, at least, three distinct specialties of the

singing teacher. First, rudimental music; second, voice culture; third,

artistic singing. He who thinks he can excel in all has very great

confidence in his own ability. Perhaps most of those who become teachers

have no adequate knowledge of what the profession is, but enter into it

for the purpose of making a living. After becoming a teacher he

discovers that something is wrong, and the last person whom he thinks

wrong is himself. Probably he has never decided on a specialty and

properly prepared himself for that. Thus we see men who know something

about music, teaching singing. They know nothing of practical voice

culture, but attempt to teach singing. They ruin voices and wreck their

own happiness. The first duty of a singing teacher is to study enough of

anatomy and physiology to enable him to know exactly what parts of the

body enter into voice culture, where they are and how they work. The

dentist makes his specialty, filling teeth. But he would not be given

his diploma if he did not know anatomy. His course in the medical

college is the same as that of the physician. It differs in degree, but

not in kind. Such should be the education, to a certain extent, of the

vocal teacher. This education cannot be had from any books now

published. Plain anatomy can be given in books, but the student should

also see the parts described in the subject. He should then examine, so

far as may be, the action of these parts in the living body. He must

then make his own deductions. It may seem strange that that is

necessary, but such is the subtlety of voice culture, that hardly two

theorists agree in their deductions. Until some recognized body of men

decides on definite things in voice culture, reducing one's theoretical

study to practical uses must stand.

As important as such study, too, is the preparation of the artist mind.

One can teach voice culture mechanically and obtain good result, but be

very deficient in the art of music. It is often said that "Artists are

born, not made." That is a mistake. No man was ever an artist by birth.

Some men may be more appreciative of beauty than others but all men have

enough within them to serve as the basis of artistic education. That

education should be carried to a considerable distance before teaching

is commenced. Almost as soon as the voice is capable of making any tone,

music must be put into study. Appreciation of music itself as an art,

must be a part of the good teacher's preparation. Knowledge of greater

and better music comes from that appreciation with the years of

experience in teaching. If the artist mind has not begun to assert

itself before business is attempted, business will be likely to absorb

the teacher, and he stands the chance of never being an artist. One who

combines scientific knowledge of voice culture and an understanding of

the art of music is well equipped for entering the profession of

teaching vocal music. Only such should enter it. With that as

foundation, the experience of each year will make him a better teacher.

Without that as foundation he will probably remain, vocally and

musically, about where he was when he began. Financial success may come,

but musical success never can.