BY J. HARRY WHEELER.
As the musical season approaches one is reminded of the many students who, with little or no knowledge of voice culture or vocal methods, visit New York and other large cities in search of a teacher of singing. Many of these students have not had the forethought to make inquiry respecting teachers, or have confidence in their own ability to make a judiious (sic) choice.
Their mode of procedure is to obtain the names and addresses of a score or so of voice teachers, then start upon a voice-teacher-shopping expedition. Upon the same principle that a woman goes to a dry goods store with the object of obtaining samples, studios are visited for the purpose of “sampling” voice teachers, but with this difference: in the dry goods store she knows something about the material she is in quest of, while in the voice-teacher-shopping expedition she knows absolutely nothing concerning that which she seeks. With calm assurance, the shopper enters the studio of a teacher, and makes the announcement that she has come to New York for the purpose of studying singing, and is looking about for a voice teacher, asks about his method, etc., and would he please try her voice and give her his honest opinion regarding it.
Now, although it has taken the teacher years of study, and cost him thousands of dollars to be enabled to give an accurate opinion respecting her vocal capabilities, she presumes to ask as a favor this valuable information which may be worth thousands of dollars to her. These shoppers have the boldness to go all over the city calling upon voice teachers, with the same story and same request. If all teachers made a charge for the examination of voices, this peculiar class of students would give the matter a more serious, as well as a financial, consideration.
The final decision upon a voice teacher is based entirely upon impression. It may be because a studio is beautiful, or the appearance of a teacher pleases, or meaningless flattery has made an impression, or one may be influenced by a teacher who states that in his instruction he combines all the better vocal methods of the world, thus obtaining wonderful results, or by a teacher who states that he can guarantee a church position, or a teacher who assures the student that he possesses a remarkable voice, great dramatic talent, and he will eventually place him in grand opera.
The action of these students is lamentable when one considers the great risk they run in an unaided selection of a voice teacher, for by an unwise choice the voice may be ruined and the health irreparably impaired. It is to be regretted that students are influenced by the absurd unreliable promises made by certain teachers. After a time many of these students find that they have made no improvement, promises have not been fulfilled, time has been lost, and much money wasted. All this might have been obviated by a little forethought and less confidence in their ability to make a proper selection of a voice teacher.