August 13, 2010

Talks about Singing by Annie M. R. Barnette

As noted before on these pages, its rather unusual for a student to write about their studies with an esteemed singing master, much less pass this instruction along with sufficient detail. But that is exactly what Annie M. R. Barnette has done in Talks About Singing: Or, How to Practice (1886).

You many remember my post on Luigi Vannuccini? Well. It just so happens that Vannuccini was Barnette's teacher in Florence.  I am sorry to say that after much searching I can't find a picture of Barnette or her dates- at least not yet. The little that I have gathered about Barnette is from her book: apparently the chapters appeared serially in the Chicago Tribune. I can't imagine that happening today, can you? She also lived in Boston during the same period as Vincenzo Cirillo. The place was fairly swimming with representatives of the Old School!


Luigi Vannuccini (1828-1911)


There is a lot of common sense wisdom in Barnette's book. And like many others of the period, the exercises given are progressively difficult. No singing of coloratura right off the bat for these students!

One outstanding aspect of Vannuccini's instruction is that he only allowed the student physical control over the solar plexus area. The rest? That seems to have been regulated by the student's ear.

The teachings of the Old School are sprinkled throughout Barnette's book like diamonds on a sandy beach: everywhere one steps the light gleams.  

You can read or download Talks About Singing here

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