Mackinlay on Garcia’s Simplicity

His Method may be perhaps summed up in the doctrine that it was not a method – in the sense that he had no hard and fast rules – his object always being to make each pupil sing in the way most natural and involving the least effort.

“I only tell you how to sing, what tone is good, what faults are to be avoided, what is artistic, what inartistic. I try to awaken your intelligence, so that you may be able to criticise your own singing as severely as I do. I want you to listen to your voice, and use your brain. If you find a difficulty, do not shirk it. Make up your mind to master it. So many singers give up what they find hard. They think they are better off by leaving it, and turning their attention to other things which come more easily. Do not be like them.

When a difficulty had been overcome, he would smile and say, “That was as I wish. Do it again. Good! Now try and impress upon your mind exactly what you did. Sing it once again. C’est ça! Do not let the old mistake occur again.” If one did allow it to reappear, he would shake his head sorrowfully and say, “Jenny Lind would have cut her throat sooner than have given me reason to say, ‘We corrected that mistake last time.'”

Mackinlay, M. Sterling. “Garcia the Centenarian and his Times: William Blackwood and Sons.” Edinburgh and London (1908).