This book is written on the belief that the essential basic principles underlying good singing are in themselves rather few, and very simple, but that their application is amazingly varied in light of the individual’s needs. It is not intended as a manual of voice production, and does not concern itself with medical matters, nor directly with anatomy, physiology, and acoustics.

While not belittling the value of appropriate scientific investigation, Thomas Hemsley believes that modern methods of training have gone too far in the direction of the materialistic approach; that singing in all its aspects and at all times should be guided by the imagination, the feelings, and the intuition; that we have become so pre-occupied by voice per se and the vocal function since the advent of vocal science, that we too easily forget that singing is not voice, but modification of voice – “not only a language through which we understand the emotions of others, but also a means of exciting our sympathy with such emotions,” (H. Spencer). This book can be seen as an attempt to redress the balance.

Published by Oxford University Press
216 pages, 1998
ISBN 978-0-19-879016-7


“This is one of the best (if not the best) books to be written about singing in recent times. Hemsley talks so much common sense, touches on so many truths about singers, singing and performance, and writes it all in such well-proportioned, unencumbered prose that active singers and aspiring students alike can and should benefit from reading his many wise and enlightening words. The public who attend opera and song recitals would also profit from reading the volume … With so much wisdom imparted it is no wonder Janet Baker writes in praise of ‘the extraordinary wisdom and truth’ within the book’s pages.” – Alan Blyth, Opera

“I couldn’t put it down. Hemsley treats the subject seriously; everyone who is genuinely serious about singing, teacher, pupil, or listener, will find, as I did, extraordinary wisdom and truth within its pages … His ideas should have far-reaching influence on the teaching of singing and the criteria used for accepting pupils into a vastly over-crowded profession’” – Dame Janet Baker

“This book is one of the clearest, friendliest, and sanest books about singing and singing teaching that I have ever read. It matches a holistic integrity on the conceptual and spiritual level (something often lacking in such publications) with a simplicity of detailed explanation about practicalities. The ability to refer a wide range of singers (student, amateur, and professional) to this book will make my life a lot easier and more productive.” – Robin Bowman, Head of Vocal Studies and French Consultant, National Opera Studio, London

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