If one is doing the very best one can, what difference does it make if some think well and others think ill? Besides, were the singer Israfel himself, he would not be able to please and charm everybody. There would be some who would decry or try to underrate his song. It is far better for the singer or the musician to feel and know in his own heart and mind that he has done the very best it was possible for him to do in his work than to have the plaudits of the multitude and, at the same time, to know that he might have done better. Self-consciousness is perhaps the greatest fault that many singers and musicians have to deal with. It too often stands in the way of their success. It is a very subtle phase of selfishness, and the sooner it is overcome the better it is going to be for both the performer and the listener, because the performer can only give of his best work when he is thoroughly absorbed in the giving.

I have known many singers who spent much of their time and money going again and again to throat specialists to have their throats treated. If the same time had been expended in an effort to control their own superficial thoughts and emotions, their throats would have required no such physical treatment. For throat specialists depend for their practice largely upon those who give way to irritability and other superficial emotions. There is nothing that will disturb the singing voice and produce irritation of the vocal cords to the same degree that anger and irritability do. Next to that, worry and anxiety produce a similar result, and with any or all of these adverse conditions the tendency of the voice, whether it be that of the speaking or singing voice, is to drop back in the throat, and in doing this the vocal cords are affected so that all beauty and purity of tone is lost. Loss of vitality through overwork or undue mental or physical tension will give the same results in a lesser degree. The human voice is like a violin that must be constantly kept in tune in order to produce the best music, and one of the greatest attuning factors in life is to feel the joy and the brightness of living. The singer who is bright, joyous, and happy will always be in condition to impart to the lives of others something of the brightness, the joy, and the happiness that animate and permeate his own life. His music goes out from him in melodious, rhythmic, harmonious vibration and sets up, to a degree, the same kind of vibration of rhythm, melody, and harmony in the lives of all who respond to his music.

I have often heard the expression used that this or that person's voice is as "hard as nails." Sometimes this hardness of voice is the result of poor training, or again it may come from the singer's own nature. The voice is bound to tell its own story through the use of its harmonics. All the spiritual, mental, and physical characteristics of the singer enter into its production. It tells what the person has felt, thought, and been. Every characteristic is expressed by the tones of the dominant harmonics in each voice. Even in the speaking voice the trained ear of a good judge of human nature can detect the true or the false by listening to the spoken word. Often in listening to singing one feels the enthusiasm and the emotion of the singer, and one is carried away by its persuasive power. Or again, one may feel disdain or distrust in listening to the tone, because it is born of the singer's own insincerity. The singer may wish to carry only beauty of tone expression to the mind of the listeners, but somehow the dominant feelings and thoughts of the singer find expression in the singing voice and carry to the hearers mind either the impure thought and feeling, or the insincere emotional feeling and thought. True feeling is the greatest impulse toward producing beautiful musical tones, and the singer who is dominated by the spirit of love can impart of his or her own spirit to the minds of the listeners. True feeling puts both warmth and colour into the voice. The singer must interpret the very soul of music, but in order to do that he must have had soul experience, must have lived the soul life; for we can only put into a voice what the soul has felt and what the mind has thought, and in turn the body must be the plastic, as well as the elastic, instrument through which the music comes. There are teachers of singing who contend that when vocal sound has its perfect position, and when the perfection of mould or form is acquired, every musical tone will become as perfect as the mould. In one way this may be true, but in another way it is far from the truth. A painter might take a pencil, and with it outline on his canvas a picture he intends to paint. However, when he had finished his drawing, no matter how perfect it might be, it could never be a painting until he had used his brush and his paints, and then his picture would glow with warmth and colour. One may, to a degree, simulate beauty and colour of tone, but the one who feels music knows it to be only a copy of the real, containing nothing of true value in itself. It is desirable in singing to acquire as full a technique in relation to mould and form as possible, so that the singer may have a perfect diction, but diction is not music, it is only a mental and physical effort to give music as good a setting as possible. The one who sings most beautifully will use heart and mind and body, all three in perfect unison to give the full beauty, value, and expression to the song.

In singing, as well as in everything else we do in life, the thing that is done in a natural way will not only be done easily, but well. For nature's methods, whether we know it or not, are always the best. Nature gives us the fundamental, and art helps us to build thereon. But true art never conflicts with nature; there is simply a natural reciprocity between the two. All strained and undue effort is unnatural, and no one can hope to get natural effects from unnatural effort. Cause and effect are inseparably bound together; natural causes give natural effects; unnatural causes give unnatural effects. I knew of a woman who took singing lessons abroad, who for nearly a year's time had to keep a piece of wood in her mouth in order to keep it open as wide as possible, her teacher insisting that only in this way would she be able to produce a beautiful singing voice. I heard the voice once or twice, and without doubt it was the most disagreeable, discordant singing voice that I had ever heard. It was absolutely lacking in rhythm, melody, resonance and beauty. I do not mean to say that the teacher was solely responsible for this, but I do say that the teacher's method would be enough to destroy the voice of an angel. Artistic co-operation with nature's ways and means will always prove the most satisfactory in the end.