Books of Exercises, Scales…

“There are numerous “Singing Tutors” published, giving rules, exercises, solfeggi, &c. Many of these are excellent, and some nearly perfect. But all alike are useless or worse than useless to the tyro, without a master. You might well suppose that a child could learn to be a carpenter by having some fine wood and a box of good tools.

I have before observed that voices vary as faces do; no two are exactly alike, each voice having its peculiar merit and its particular defect. Now, a good master will treat each voice on its own merit, and not place it at first on the Procrustean bed of a book of rules and exercises. He will probably write down his own exercises expressly for his pupil, and if not that, he will select certain exercises from the book, and forbid others to be attempted for a time. You must also let your master select such a book for you, so that you may have one in which the rules do not contradict those which he has already given you verbally, or else you will be perplexed with a multitude of counsellors.

It is not till a certain stage in singing has been reached, under the training of a master, that any book of exercises can be of service to you. When that stage is reached, you will find such a work of great use in a part of your labours. Among such books may be named as especially good, – Concone’s Exercises, Righini’s, Guercia’s, Nava’s, Lablache’s, and Lamperti’s; but, again I say, do not choose for yourself. There are some excellent rules, as well as some good exercises, in an old work of the kind by Crivelli, and also in “Singing Exemplified,” a work by T. Cooke. If you can meet with these, secure them – although I fear they may be long since out of print – for in the literature of singing the new is by no means certain to excel what was written in the days of our best composers and singers of opera and oratorios.”

Anonymous. Advice to singers, by a singer. 1882.

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