Is Vocal Training Too Complex?

Vocal training has become very complex and difficult under the modern system. So accustomed are we to think of the study of singing as an abstruse subject that the true nature of the old method is apt to be overlooked on account of its very simplicity. In place of the artificial system of vocal management with which we are familiar, the old masters simply made natural singing the basis of their method. No one need be told what natural singing is. Every child sings in a natural manner. If you are studying singing now you can easily recall how you sang as a child, before you had ever thought of trying to manage your voice in any way. It was precisely that manner of singing which the old masters took as the foundation of artistic vocalism. This is the radical point of difference between the two systems. According to the modern notion, the natural manner of using the voice is incorrect; it must be discarded at the very outset of one’s vocal studies, and a definite plan of vocal management put in its place. It was the belief of the old masters that natural singing is not in any sense incorrect; it is simply crude, undeveloped, and more or less inartistic. 

A student starting to take lessons under the old system received no instruction whatever in the management of the breath or the placement of the tone. So far as the handling of the voice was concerned, the student was allowed to continue to sing just as he always had before beginning his studies. A steady improvement took place in his use of the voice. But this was accomplished solely through his practice of exercises and vocalises, singing them always in a natural manner.

Taylor, David C. “Natural Singing and the Old Italian Method.” Etude Magazine, August 1916: 594.

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