The Singing Steam Engine

A lady came to my studio a few years ago, a pupil of a prominent New York teacher of the physiological school of singing. This lady wanted to study and asked me to try her voice. I asked her to sing a tone. She straightened up and began to go through a number of queer and painful-looking throat and face contortions. I asked her what she was trying to do. She replied that she was trying to adjust all the parts in order to produce the tone as she had been taught. After she had succeeded in thus locally adjusting all the parts, the tone refused to come; but finally when it did come it was something awful; it was more like the sound of a calliope or a steam engine, than of a human voice. The lady knew much about the muscles of the throat, the larynx, etc., according to her teaching and study, according to the teachings of the physiological school of singing of which she was a pupil; but she could not in that way sing one musical sound.

Myer, Edmund John. Position and Action in Singing: A Study of the True Conditions of Tone: a Solution of Automatic (artistic) Breath Control. Boston Music Company, G. Schirmer, 1911.

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