“Let the singer also use a watch when she practices, in order not to overdo. I approve of a good deal of technical study, taken in small doses of ten to fifteen minutes at a time. I myself do about two hours or more, though not all technic; but I make these pauses for rest, so that I am not fatigued. After all, while we must have technic, there is so much more to singing than its technic. Technic is indeed a means to an end, more in the art of song than in almost any other form of art. Technic is the background for expressive singing, and to sing expressively is what every one should be striving for.
“A beautiful voice is a gift from heaven, but the cultivation of it rests with its possessor. Here in America, girls do not realize the amount of labor and sacrifice involved, or they might not be so eager to enter upon a career. They are too much taken up with teas, parties and social functions to have sufficient time to devote to vocal study and all that goes with it. There are many other things to study; some piano if possible, languages of course, physical culture and acting, to make the body supple and graceful. I say some piano should be included, at least enough to play accompaniments at sight. But when she has mastered her song or role, she needs an accompanist, for she can never play the music as it should be played while she endeavors to interpret the song as that should be sung. One cannot do complete justice to both at the same time.
“In order to study all the subjects required, the girl with a voice must be willing to give most of her day to the work. This means sacrificing the social side and being willing to throw herself heart and soul into the business of adequately preparing for her career.
“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. You have good teachers here, too. Then why are there so few American singers who are properly prepared for a career? Why do we hear of so few who make good and amount to something? If the girl has means and good social connections, she is often not ready to sacrifice social gayeties for the austere life of the student. If she is a poor girl, she frequently cannot afford to take up the subjects necessary for her higher development. Instruction is expensive here, and training for opera almost impossible. The operatic coach requires a goodly fee for his services. And when the girl has prepared several roles where shall she find the opportunity to try them out? Inexperienced singers cannot be accepted at the Metropolitan; that is not the place for them. At the prices charged for seats the management cannot afford to engage any but the very best artists. Until there are more opera houses throughout the country, the American girl will still be obliged to go to Europe for experience and routine. In Europe it is all so much easier. Every little city and town has its own opera house, where regular performances are given and where young singers can try their wings and gain experience. The conductor will often help and coach the singer and never expect a fee for it.