“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.
“I have also said that there are three great factors which should form the foundation stones upon which the singer should rear his structure of musical achievement. These factors are Memory, Imagination, Analysis. I have put memory first because it is the whole thing, so to say. The singer without memory—a cultivated memory—does not get far. Memory lies at the very foundation of his work, and must continue with it the whole journey through, from the bottom to the top. In the beginning you think a beautiful tone, you try to reproduce it. When you come to it again you must remember just how you did it before. Each time you repeat the tone this effort of memory comes in, until at last it has become second nature to remember and produce the result; you now begin to do so automatically.
“As you advance there are words to remember as well as notes and tones. Memory, of course, is just as necessary for the pianist. He must be able to commit large numbers of notes, phrases and passages. In his case there are a number of keys to grasp at once, but the singer can sing but one tone at a time. Both notes and words should be memorized, so the singer can come before the audience without being confined to the printed page. When acting is added there is still more to remember. Back of memory study lies concentration; without concentration little can be accomplished in any branch of art.
“The central factor is imagination; what can be done without it! Can you think of a musician, especially a singer, without imagination? He may acquire the letter—that is, execute the notes correctly, but the performance is dead, without life or soul. With imagination he comprehends what is the inner meaning of the text, the scene; also what the composer had in mind when he wrote. Then he learns to express these emotions in his own voice and action, through the imaginative power, which will color his tones, influence his action, render his portrayal instinct with life. Imagination in some form is generally inherent in all of us. If it lies dormant, it can be cultivated and brought to bear upon the singer’s work. This is absolutely essential.