“But the trouble comes when these superficial students aspire to become opera singers, after a couple of seasons’ study. Of course they all cast eyes at the Metropolitan, as the end and aim of all striving.
“Just as if, when a young man enters a law office, it is going to lead him to the White House, or that he expects it will,” said Mr. Homer.
“Then,” resumed the artist, “we have already three requirements for a vocal career; Voice, Intelligence and a Musical Nature. I think the Fourth should be a Capacity for Work. Without application, the gifts of voice, intelligence and a musical nature will not make an artist. To accomplish this task requires ceaseless labor, without yielding to discouragement. Perhaps the Fifth asset would be a cheerful optimism as proof against discouragement.
“That is the last thing the student should yield to—discouragement, for this has stunted or impaired the growth of many singers possessed of natural talent. The young singer must never be down-hearted. Suppose things do not go as she would like to have them; she must learn to overcome obstacles, not be overcome by them. She must have backbone enough to stand up under disappointments; they are the test of her mettle, of her worthiness to enter the circle with those who have overcome. For she can be sure that none of us have risen to a place in art without the hardest kind of work, struggle and the conquering of all sorts of difficulties.
“The sixth asset ought to be Patience, for she will need that in large measure. It is only with patient striving, doing the daily vocal task, and trying to do it each day a little better than the day before, that anything worth while is accomplished. It is a work that cannot be hurried. I repeat it; the student must have unlimited patience to labor and wait for results.
“I would advise every student to study coloratura first. Then, as the voice broadens, deepens and takes on a richer timbre, it will turn naturally to the more dramatic expression. The voice needs this background, or foundation in the old Italian music, in order to acquire flexibility and freedom. I was not trained to follow this plan myself, but my daughter Louise, who is just starting out in her public career, has been brought up to this idea, which seems to me the best.
“I memorize very easily, learning both words and music at the same time. In taking up a new role, my accompanist plays it for me and we go over it carefully noting all there is in language and notes. When I can take it to bed with me, and go over it mentally; when I can go through it as I walk along the street, then it has become a part of me; then I can feel I know it.”