Florence Easton is even more emphatic. “If a girl is fond of music, let her first study the piano, for a knowledge of the piano and its music is at the bottom of everything. All children should have this opportunity, whether they desire it or not. The child who early begins to study piano, will often unconsciously follow the melody with her voice. Thus the love of song is awakened in her, and a little later it is discovered she has a voice worth cultivating.”
On the subject of languages, artists are equally specific. Languages are an absolute necessity, beginning with one’s mother tongue. The student should not imagine that because he is born to the English language, it does not require careful study. Galli-Curci remarks: “The singer can always be considered fortunate who has been brought up to more than one language. I learned Spanish and Italian at home. In school I learned French, German and English, not only a little smattering of each, but how to write and speak them.”
Rosa Raisa speaks eight languages, according to her personal statement. Russian, of course, as she is Russian, then French, Italian, German, Spanish, Polish, Roumanian and English.
“The duty is laid upon Americans to study other languages, if they expect to sing,” says Florence Easton. “I know how often this study is neglected by the student. It is only another phase of that haste which is characteristic of the young student and singer.”
Following the subject of requirements for a vocal career, let us get right down to the technical side, and review the ideas of artists on Breath Control, How to Practice, What are the Necessary Exercises, What Vowels Should be Used, and so on.
All admit that the subject of Breath Control is perhaps the most important of all. Lehmann says: “I practice many breathing exercises without using tone. Breath becomes voice through effort of will and by use of vocal organs. When singing, emit the smallest quantity of breath. Vocal chords are breath regulators; relieve them of all overwork.”
Mme. Galli-Curci remarks: “Perhaps, in vocal mastery, the greatest factor of all is the breathing. To control the breath is what each student is striving to learn, what every singer endeavors to perfect, what every artist should master. It is an almost endless study and an individual one, because each organism and mentality is different.”
Marguerite d’Alvarez: “In handling and training the voice, breathing is perhaps the most vital thing to be considered. To some breath control seems second nature; others must toil for it. With me it is intuition. Breathing is such an individual thing. With each person it is different, for no two people breathe in just the same way.”
Claudia Muzio: “Every singer knows how important is the management of breath. I always hold up the chest, taking as deep breaths as I can conveniently. The power to hold the breath and sing more and more tones with one breath, grows with careful, intelligent practice.”