“I have been with him, whenever possible, for two years now. He has shown me the philosophy, the psychology of singing. He has taught me the science of intense diction. By means of such diction, I can sing mezza voce, and put it over with less effort and much more artistic effect than I ever used to do, when I employed much more voice. You hear it said this or that person has a big voice and can sing with great power. A brass band can make a lot of noise. I have stood beside men, who in a smaller space, could make much more noise than I could. But when they got out on the stage you couldn’t hear them at the back of the hall. It is the knowing how to use the voice with the least possible effort, coupled with the right kind of diction, that will make the greatest effect. Now I can express myself, and deliver the message I feel I have to give.
THE SINGER BEFORE AN AUDIENCE
“You ask if I hear myself, when I am singing for an audience. In a general way, yes. Of course I do not get the full effect of what I am doing; a singer never does. It takes the records to tell me that, and I have been making records for a good number of years. But I know the sensations which accompany correct tone production, and if I feel they are different in any place or passage, I try to make a mental note of the fact and the passage, that I may correct it afterwards. But I must emphasize the point that when I sing, I cast away all thought of how I do anything technical; I want to get away from the mechanics of the voice; I must keep my thought clear for the interpretation, for the message I have brought to the audience. To be constantly thinking—how am I doing this or that—would hamper me terribly. I should never get anywhere. I must have my vocal apparatus under such control that it goes of itself. A pianist does not think of technic when playing in public, neither should a singer think of his vocal technic. Of course there may be occasions when adverse circumstances thrust conditions upon me. If I have a slight cold, or tightness of throat, I have to bring all my resources to bear, to rise above the seeming handicap, and sing as well as I can in spite of it. I can say gratefully, without any desire to boast, that during the past eleven years, I have never once missed an engagement or disappointed an audience. Of course I have had to keep engagements when I did not feel in the mood, either physically or mentally. Many singers would have refused under like conditions. But it does not seem fair to the audience to disappoint, or to the manager either; it puts him in a very difficult and unpleasant position. It seems to me the artist should be more considerate of both manager and audience, than to yield to a slight indisposition and so break his engagement.