Giambattista Mancini, in his singing manual, “Practical Reflections on the Figurative Art of Singing” 1777 wrote: “Singers must always pay attention not to acquire that common fault of imitating too closely what they see and hear; for instead of improving their natural gifts, they will often lose them. However, I do not mean to exclude imitation, because by imitating the perfect in music, using sane judgment and modifications suitable to one’s own particular talent, one perfects himself.”
So, how is “sane judgment” obtained?
Lilli Lehmann addresses this in her book “How to Sing”. She writes: “In former times eight years were devoted to the study of singing – at the Prague Conservatory, for instance. Most of the mistakes and misunderstandings of the pupil could be discovered before he secured an engagement, and the teacher could spend so much time in correcting them that the pupil learned to pass judgment on himself properly.”