We often hear slighting things said of the quality of American voices, especially the speaking voice. They are frequently compared to the beauty of European voices, to the disparagement of those of our own country. Remembering the obloquy cast upon the American voice, it is a pleasure to record the views of some of the great singers on this point. “There are quantities of girls in America with good voices, good looks and a love for music,” asserts Mme. Easton. Mme. Hempel says: “I find there are quantities of lovely voices here in America. The quality of the American female voice is beautiful; in no country is it finer, not even in Italy.” Herbert Witherspoon, who has such wonderful experience in training voices, states: “We ought to have our own standards in judging American voices; until we do so, we will be constantly comparing them with the voices of foreign singers. The quality of the American voice is different from the quality found in the voices of other countries. To my mind, the best women’s voices are found right here in our midst.” And he adds: “Any one can sing beautifully who does so with ease and naturalness, the American just as well as those of any other country. In fact I consider American voices, in general, better trained than those of Italy, Germany or France. The Italian, in particular, has very little knowledge of the scientific side; he usually sings by intuition.”
If this be accepted, that American voices are better trained than those of other countries, and there is no reason to doubt the statement of masters of such standing, it follows there must be competent instructors in the art of song right in our own land. Mme. Easton agrees with this. “There are plenty of good vocal teachers in America,” she says, “not only in New York City, but in other large cities of this great country. There is always the problem, however, of securing just the right kind of a teacher. For a teacher may be excellent for one voice but not for another.” Morgan Kingston asserts: “There is no need for an American to go out of his own country for vocal instruction or languages; all can be learned right here at home. I am a living proof of this. What I have done others can do.” “You have excellent vocal teachers right here in America,” says Mme. Hempel. Then she marvels, that with all these advantages at her door, there are not more American girls who make good. She lays it to the fact that our girls try to combine a social life with their musical studies, to the great detriment of the latter.
It is doubtless a great temptation to the American girl who possesses a voice and good looks, who is a favorite socially, to neglect her studies at times, for social gaiety. She is in such haste to make something of herself, to get where she can earn a little with her voice; yet by yielding to other calls she defeats the very purpose for which she is striving by a lowered ideal of her art. Let us see how the artists and teachers view this state of things. Lehmann says: