Meaning of the Word “Method”

The question then arises: “What practice is intelligent and what is not intelligent?””How shall we use our intelligence in developing the voice?” Here we come to the question of Method. There is no word more frequently used and less understood. “Method” means the way in which a thing is done. It is the means to an end; it is not the end itself. A singer’s method is not the tone he produces: it is the way in which he uses his vocal apparatus to produce that tone. If the teacher says “That tone is harsh, sing more sweetly,” he has given no method to his pupil. He has asked the scholar to change his tone but has not shown him how to do it. If, on the other hand, he directs the pupil to keep back the pressure of the breath, or to change the location of the tone; if he instructs him in regard to the correct use of his vocal chords [sic], or speaks of the position of his tongue, of his diaphragm, of his mouth etc., he gives him method; for these things are not an end in themselves, but are employed as means. They are the ways in which the teacher desires the pupil to use his or her vocal apparatus, in order that the end, artistic singing, may be reached.

People often say they like a singer’s method, when they mean they like his voice. They admire the result, while perfectly ignorant of the way in which it is produced.

We mean, then, by method, the way in which the voice is produced and controlled, as distinguished from the voice itself. The next step is to find out what is the true method among all these conflicting views regarding the voice. When doctors disagree, who shall decide?

Botume, J. “Modern singing methods, their use and abuse.” (1896).

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