A Baritone’s Letter Home…

Francis Walker was an American baritone student in the early 1880s in Florence. Each day his teacher listened to him sing slow sustained tones (hmm...where have I heard that before?) and scale work, and he described this process of training in letters back to his sister, living in New York. Highlights in his letter are [...]

Loud, Louder, and Loudest (or Mack Truck Singing)

Pupil: You have made mention of two great basses, Lablache and Staudigl, which leads me to a remark you made some time ago about some bass singers enlarging their tone too much. I would like to know something about the proper action for the bass voice, as it is plain to me that I have had [...]

Cultivation vs. Production in the Voice Studio

One of the most interesting words that comes up over and over again in treatises and writings on the singing voice pre-1850 is the world CULTIVATION. Books on singing from pre-1850 or so are entitled, "Bassini's Art of singing: an analytical, physiological and practical system for the cultivation of the voice." Another singing text is "Baker's Formation and [...]

What is Natural Singing?

This may seem at first sight altogether incredible. To understand how the voice can be trained, without ever departing from the natural manner of singing, we must see in the first place just what natural singing is.  What takes place when I sing naturally? Suppose I sing a scale, do, re, mi, etc., just as [...]

Joyce DiDonato and The Naked Voice

One of my favorite pedagogy books from the past ten years is W. Stephen Smith's book, "The Naked Voice: A Wholistic Approach to Singing". A concept that is near and dear to my heart is the idea of "uncluttered" sound in classical singing. What I mean by this is a vocal sound that is free from [...]