Jessie Van Cooten 1922

Jessie Miriam Van Cooten was born in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia, on 30 December 1890. She was the daughter of John Hughes Van Cooten and Elizabeth (nee Berry). The family moved from Ipswich to Maryborough at the end of 1899, but returned to Ipswich in 1907. The family returned to Maryborough in August 1912.

Jessie contracted polio in 1905. She never married.

Transcribed by Merle Van Cooten, February 2023.


1st term. June 9th to Aug 11th June 13

INTERVIEW On Monday 6th, 5.30p.m. Maggie and self called on Madame Camille Cornwell, at “Knotty Ash” – Ferry St, and she was so nice. I asked her to be honest & let me know if it was really worth while for me to take lessons, and after testing my voice, she told me I had a nice velvety quality & after 12 months tuition I would sing ever so much better than now, and be so well established that I could not lose my voice. So after receiving a prospectus, we left. The following day, I addressed a note to Madame, making arrangements to commence with her, in singing lessons, the following Thursday morning – 9th, at 10.30a.m.

1st Lesson. June 9th. I left home about 10.15 a.m. with a dainty bunch of sweet peas, & arrived in good time. Madame’s Mother met me & took me in & received the peas with pleasure. It was a dull and muggy morning. Madame had been washing, but came in brightly & gave me lessons in breathing. First of all receiving my cash for 1 term of ½ hour per week – £3-3-0.

Breathing Exercises. Stand against a wall, & with the hands just pressing below the breasts, blow outward through the mouth – emptying oneself of air as much as possible; then breathing in again through the mouth, expanding the lungs as much as possible. Repeat this 5 times. Then with heels together & head erect, empty oneself, then breathe in, extending the arms outward and backward, bringing together over the head, & locking with the thumbs, holding the breath, then expelling, as you bring the arms down. Repeat 5 times; then flop on bed & relax. The body will feel the strain at first, in the back – (kidneys). Do these exercises every morning on rising.

Practice At first – 3 times a day for 20 minutes each time – exercise written in manuscript book. Page 1. Double attack on one breath – by semitones to D from C. Tied notes – C to A. Staccato to F. Shake, & sustained vowels. Ah, Eh, Ee – Aw. OO. to D & Chromatic practice to C octave. Practicing on Ah with the mouth opened across the face. (I drop the jaw rather much – one bad habit) also I must restrict myself to practice only – no singing other than that. Let the voice be buoyant and bright & smile on the face.

Madame dressed in mole silk coat and skirt.

Writing Block cover

Writing Block cover

LESSON No 2 – June 16th 1921 Glorious sunshine

At 10.30.a.m. I arrived at “Knotty Ash” – finding Jessie Bryant receiving her lesson – waited till 10.50 for mine. Renewed acquaintance with Jessie – on the Monday 13th after at least 16 years. Went through the exercises of the previous day – & on the whole “Madame” was very pleased. The attacks need to be brighter and more definite & the tone even. Concentration of mind is necessary; the brain controls. Took four fresh exercises – & then Madame said I deserved another – as I showed such intelligence, so a fifth was given – see Page 2 of Manuscript Book. Altogether Madame seemed well satisfied, & I was much encouraged. She said I had done very well indeed. Exercises of last week continued – semitone higher. Same breathing exercises.

Madame in blk silk dress – long waist effect.

LESSON No 3 June 23 -1921. Warm & sunny

At 10.30 a.m. I again arrived at my lesson – & after a few minutes, Madame commenced by taking over the exercises, which I had practised – my tone needs to be lighter, more buoyant & happy. Scales should be done as if skimming milk. Legato exercise very “tied” and the movement of the jaw more supple. Madame again seemed well satisfied, & so that is encouraging. She is awfully nice – one feels so confident and desirous of progress when in her company. Her piano is a beautifully toned instrument & her own singing with the pupil is indeed helpful. I met a little fellow of about 2 1/2 years -named Cerezo – son of Bandmaster. Continue same breathing exercises & gave me two further vocal exercises to make the voice more flexible – as well as continue with previous ones – taking a semitone higher still. Madame dressed in blue cheque cambric.

June 30th 1921. LESSON No 4. Sunshine – hot & steamy. Consequent on frequent heavy showers.

At 10.30.a.m. I was again at “Knotty Ash” – & as Jessie Burn was late, I was delayed about 20 minutes so chatted with Madame’s Mother. Took the exercises over – the staccato & legato exercises were very good – but the others – not so good – voice must be lighter & more buoyant & brighter with no nasal touch _ all from the throat & where attack is weak – back up with pressure of breath. Make the brain “Boss”; concentration of mind is necessary. Produce notes evenly, each being equally important, allow no bulging of notes. Continue with same exercises & a new one – four notes in a legato – from C to Eb.

Madame dressed in navy flannel coat frock. Mr B. Smythe called.

July 7th 1921. LESSON No 5 Lovely soft sunshiny day

At 10.30.a.m. again I arrived at “Knotty Ash” with a lovely bunch of sweet peas and maiden hair fern for Madame. She & her Mother were delighted. My exercises were very well done – improvement on last day shown & a further one given- being the chromatic scale of C, D# & D. to a third over the octave, as well as the others extended a little in range as shown in manuscript. The “grip” attack exercise was better & this is an important one – teaching surety of attack – each exercise must make a surer Ah on the first note, & push the voice forward & out, with the breath. “Legato” must be very securely tied, and the “staccato” bright & light & true. Madame was well pleased with all – & I am happy in my singing lesson connection. Madame is very, very nice & appeals to me much in every way, also her Mother. Madame in navy flannel coat frock.

Continue same breathing exercises each morning.

July 14 – 1921 LESSON No 6 Lovely Winter Sunshine

I arrived at my lesson to time – & after a wee chat with Madame, her Ma & Jessie Burn – I commenced my exercises. All were good, some better than others – the sustained vowels must be continued with careful practice & finish with an “exhausted breath”. Cromatic scale – attack must be very true & with an Ah of its own – tricky to get. New exercise of scale from C octave in the reverse form: legato – & yet separate on each note. Shake must gain speed, & take the upper note first. Had a good chat with Madame & Mother, afterward, for ½ hour or more – re V. Simpson & her funny manner: also different things. Madame seem well pleased with my progress & also remarked on my health- being so good – my eyes bright & my vitality being so wonderful. I felt so glad & told her I was very well & so thankful about everything – & spoke of Mrs Howard being such a friend. She gave me a note re concession on ticket for Miss Amy Castles’ concert.

Madame busy covering her suite of furniture with art sateen – dressed in mole silk costume.

Madame also said how well I sustained myself after a strenuous lesson.

July 21. – 1921. LESSON. NO 7 Real wet and muddy

Plodded down by myself to my last lesson at “Knotty Ash” – Madame is removing to “Geraldton”, Churchill St off John St -on Saturday next 23rd. It is not the house she wants, but is anxious to get in a home of their own. So next lesson, Mother will have to accompany me – & I was so enjoying the weekly trip, out on my own. Never mind. I am only too happy to be able to take advantage of singing lesson – & Madame is so very nice. I thought she was not well today, she did not seem bright as usual – but she said she was splendid – only a bit tired with sewing and teaching. All my exercises seemed very well done & Madame was well pleased & said so afterwards, & so I am happy and encouraged to go on. Correct breathing is the one important necessity & on my “vowel” exercise, Madame remarked on my breathing being “alright”. Two of the exercises on “Ah” were changed to “Eh” & I must continue with others, as given today – more care to the ”vowel” exercise with longer breath on each vowel. Madame in mole silk costume. Did not see her Mother.

July 28 – 1921. LESSON No 8 Glorious calm winter sunshine

At 10 a.m. Mum & I set out for “Geraldton” – whence Madame had removed last Saturday. Situated in “Churchill St” just out of Fort St – on the left hand side – we arrived in good time, & found Jessie Burn still at her lesson- so I had to wait. Mother went round about for a walk while I had my lesson. My first exercise surprised Madame, & she exclaimed, “What a voice!” It was so nice to have a big room to sing in & Madame remarked the voice was so “bell-like”. Up to then it had appeared a little “woolly”. Altogether I had a happy lesson & Madame said “it had been very successful” – it seemed so spontaneous that I felt very satisfied. I must practice the same exercises again – noting to keep the voice well forward – making the sounding board at the back of the teeth. Centre a little more practice on the “oo” of the vowel exercise. Madame suggests to “play” with it, in as many ways as possible for about 5 or 6 minutes at a stretch – & so develop it.

Jessie Burn called during the afternoon to talk over exercises & met Mum & asked all sorts of questions concerning me & my “voice” – she thinks it lovely. I was out visiting “wee Mary” at the Hospital – she was to be operated on for “Appendicitis” on Friday 29th at 4.30 p.m. I was allowed in as a special favour – which I appreciated much. Madame came on to the verandah & down to the gate – chatting, to see me off. She was dressed in mouse silk skirt and cream jumper – and looked too ordinary for her. Her Mother was sweeping.

Lesson 9

August 4 – 1921. LESSON No 9 Sunshine & Wind

At 10.15 a.m. Mag & I set out for “Geraldton”. Mum was in bed with a cold & so Maggie had to take me. Madame had a severe cold on her – but seemed well in herself – though scarcely able to sing a note. My lesson went satisfactorily – save on the “oo” of the vowel exercise. Madame is not satisfied with the production & I cannot get anything nearer to it though I try. I had two new exercises given me – “Crescendo” & “Ree-tor-na”, to develop the light & shade & sounding the “R’s” respectively _ (see Manuscript Book). Madame also said I deserve a song now – so shortly, I shall enter into the art of solo singing. Madame was very, very nice as usual. I do wish I could do everything, to please her – but I fear my voice is not always agreeable – I don’t feel it is. Madame had on her mole silk costume & complained bitterly of the windy weather.

August 11 – 1921                LESSON No 10 Warm Sunshine. A Sweet day & happy

Mother accompanied me to Madame’s today – & then Mum went to visit Mrs Thomas. My lesson went well & Madame remarked on improvement in all exercises – also in the voice itself. She was very well and is almost rid of her cold. My vowel exercise was better; & now she wants me to get more “style” or “finish”. Also cultivate the use of exhaustive breath. This is the last lesson of the first term – & after lesson was finished, Madame played over 3 songs to let me choose which I would really like for my first song – each was pretty – “Sleep & the Roses” – “An Italian Serenade” and “June & You”. But I was not keen on either – but did prefer the first two. Madame suggested I might wait, & choose from some songs she was securing on appro. from Sydney and I told her I was satisfied for her to choose – & so she seemed inclined to wait. She is most anxious I shall be really pleased with my first song. So one more week of regular exercises, & then my song shall be introduced. Madame was so very nice & chatty, & told me of her refusing to teach Jessmine Stafford, also Doreen Hallap. Madame was insistent I should have a rest & so she chatted until I was ready. Mother was not returned to time, & so I was made welcome to wait, till she did & in due time Mum appeared & I went out to her – Madame coming to the gate to see me out. She is so nice – I like a chat with her.

                                                                        End of First Term.


Lesson 1 term 2

August 18 – 1921                    LESSON No 1                 Warm & soft sunshine

Mother & I arrived at Madame’s in due course, & after receiving receipt for my second term fee, which I paid, I started my lesson. All went well on the whole. “Tremolo”or “Shake” is not reliable & more attention must yet be paid to the placing & pose of voice for the vowel ”oo”. I must now acquire a little more “style” & finish. The crescendo exercise was fair – it all depends on the breathing – right use & control of it. As soon as the note is struck – swell out & then, as it were, suffocate the breath:- call it back, so to speak. It was such a happy lesson, conversational in its style & Madame seemed so well & bright. She admired very much, my pink woollen jumper, which I had acquired through

Amy. I had a longer lesson than usual, & after the exercises were finished we tried through a couple of songs. (The ones on apro had not arrived). So I took “Sleep & the Roses” – to practice one verse only & Madame will order “Wind & the Trees”. Madame seems well pleased with my “words” – says they will be pretty. Of course I was delighted. Katie came to call for me as Mum was visiting her Mum and Katie was free. She was choked up with cold, but seemed very well & bright. Madame was so nice to her when I introduced them. Madame was in a blk striped zephyr & silk coat. Jessie Burn has missed 2 lessons on account of her cold. Poor Jessie! I am sorry.

August 25th 1921 Lesson No 2.

Mother & I again went to Madame’s together & hearing Jessie Burn still at her lesson, we went to the corner & back & then went in, Madame greeting us & showing us into the wee sitting room. Mother waited at “Geraldton” for me. I had a happy lesson & took “Sleep & the Roses” again as well as exercises. Things all went nicely & had a new exercise given. We had a run through a couple of songs and Madame is going to secure one for me. Miss Eileen Castles sang it at their recital. Madame also mentioned about attending the production of “Faust” by the Italian Opera Coy. asking me to make one of the party. Eventually I was able to accept & Katie and I went together. Madame was waiting for me & we all got into the 4/- seats on our 2/- tickets. We had a splendid view & enjoyed it very much. The singing was just splendid – volume being great. We arrived home at 11.30 p.m. I did not leave Madame’s until 5 minutes to 12 o’clock. She was so nice & friendly. I took her a ‘hand’ of our own bananas.

Soft sunshine & showery. &. LESSON No 3                     Sept 1st 1921

This was another happy lesson – Maggie took me & went on to Eva’s place, calling back at 11.30 a.m. to get to the Dentist by 12 a.m. We managed it; and I was in the chair for an hour: had one tooth stopped & all scaled. Madame was so nice, & only that Jessie was late in leaving I would have had a nice long time at the song; as it was, we only had time for the exercises, & “Sleep & the Roses”. My song was not up to the mark. My exercises were all good. Madame remarked on a distinct improvement; & I was pleased as it confirmed my own experience earlier in the week. I felt all was better – tonal quality etc. She remarked on my having wonderful breath control – also being as far advanced, that she will not require to sing with me so much. Altogether my lesson was very satisfactory. Madame was speaking of “Faust”, which Katie and I attended as two of her Bacheloress Party. We secured middle seats (4/-) for (2/-) through being in her company. Madame waited outside the Town Hall for us; & I thought it nice of her. Madame had on her blue check gingham today.

In reference to the Crescendo – I must swell the breath on the note & immediately replace breath to diminuendo, as I did in the approach – the voice must get very supple & flexible – a good deal of practice being necessary – so keep on. I took Madame a lovely box of strawberries, and she seemed well pleased.

Sept 8. -1921 LESSON No 4 Lovely soft warm sunshine. The only fair morn of the week

Mother & self arrived at 10.30 a.m. at “Geraldton”, & Mum went to Mum Kents. Madame had just come to the door to look for me, & so I said I would let myself in and she could proceed with Jessie’s lesson. This she did & I had a wait in the sitting room until 10.40 when I had my lesson. All went well & then we gave some time to the songs. “Better Land” was put to “Bye-Bye” as being too low a setting for my ability now; as many of my exercises I take now to top C with a degree of comfort. Likewise “Indian Love Lyrics” are rather low _ & so Madame may be able to sell same to a baritone pupil & secure me the higher setting. As for sacred songs, I took my album & we settled on “Remember now Thy Creator” – with a slight rearrangement of the recitative parts. We had a nice time together. My lesson lengthens out to about ¾ of an hour or more each day. I fancy Madame gives me consideration in this matter on account of circumstances. Re her concert – she has not made any hint of my taking part – is it another bit of consideration for me? But she has asked me to come to rehearsal some Friday night, when they are a bit more advanced – to hear the choral singing. I took Madame another box of strawberries & though she accepted them with pleasure – she said she would smack me. Some of her fun. Madame had on her navy flannel coat frock. I do enjoy my lesson & my association with Madame! I wonder what her feeling is to me! She is always so nice & truly friendly.

Sept 15-1921         LESSON No 5                Glorious but soft spring day

Arrived at “Geraldton” to time, Mother going on to the Post. I had a good lesson – as usual. Madame going over exercises with me & urging the voice forward – with good breath pressure always – all went well & Madame seemed well satisfied. We took “Sleep & the Roses” again & “Remember Thy Creator”. Madame has taken this up with interest, & is anxious I should do it with credit – spending a good deal of time at the Recitative Passages. Then she ran over “She Wandered down the Mountain Side” – marking the breath. Mother returned & waited a few minutes – Madame remarking that I had a very good voice, as good as “some” who come to town. I don’t know that I feel particularly pleased at the similitude – no doubt it was meant complimentary – but perhaps a bit of “soft soap” to Mum. However Madame is awfully nice & I am happy each week to go to lesson. She spoke to Jessie Burn about coming late – on account of my lesson following & so Jessie has changed her time. I took a lovely bunch of sweet peas to Madame & she was pleased.

Sept 22-1921                          LESSON No 6. Glorious sunshine & spring in perfection

Mother & I again arrived to time & I had my lesson right away. Mother waiting at “Geraldton”. We took the scale – reverse action – the tone must be placed just at the back of the teeth & so “bell like”. Then the vowel exercise – this also must be placed more carefully – richly & “finished” – then the “shake” – which was very fair. Then scale & crescendo exercises – this latter on the vowels – Meh- Mi-Mee & Ma. Place the lips forward, so as to make a “resonance” for the latter part of each tone – the tone & breath pressure must back up each right behind the teeth. Madame did take “care” with the exercises today & I am pleased she is particular. Then we took “Remember now Thy Creator”. I was not at all satisfactory in this & Madame seems most anxious I should do well, so she took it so carefully – keeping tones all open & making more of it than appears on the surface. I am very glad – but it really made me feel disheartened today. I felt Madame was disappointed. I wonder will I ever be really acceptable as a soloist. I would so love to be. Madame remarked on the progress Mr Smythe is making & is wanting me to hear him. She is going to have a rehearsal for the soloists and says I must come round. I shall be delighted to go. She mentions she is bringing out 12 soloists at her Concert – the 3 old ones and 9 new ones. I do wish I was proficient, but I am not & I admit today, though it is so glorious a day, I feel discouraged. I took Madame a bunch of sweet peas again & she took them eagerly.

Sept 29 – 1921               LESSON No 7 Lovely & bright

Mother accompanied me to “Geraldton” & then went on to Thomas’ to give Katie a song for me – to change. I had a good, bright & happy lesson. I was a bit cheeky & so was Madame – but things went so well, all through. We took “She Wandered down the Mountain Side” & also finished “Sleep & the Roses”. I am about tired of it & glad to get rid of it for awhile. Madame took the last line with me making it a duet & it sounded so pretty. Also had a fresh exercise on vowels – Ma – Meh – Mi – Me – on the scale from C – making a hum at the commencement of the vowel, and protruding the lips, so as to form a round to make a good resonance in a good strong production. This I was able to do quite satisfactorily. I took Madame some sweet peas.

October 6 -1921. LESSON No 8. Very hot & dusty – real summer

Mother & I felt the heat very much today. Mum went to Mrs Kents to wait. I took Madame a dainty bunch of sweet peas. She was particularly pleased as she was quite out of flowers. I had another good lesson. All exercises went well & Madame was well please again with the resonance. We took “She wandered”, & also ran over “Orpheus with His Flute”. Madame is not particularly struck with the words, on account of repetition but remarked that she liked my voice on it, better than Marjorie Mewts. The lesson was again good & happy.

October 13- 1921 LESSON No 9 Clear & Hot & Dusty

Was ever one other of Madame’s pupils feeling as full as I when this lesson was over! Sure, I would not like the experience often. And yet, why have I taken it so much to heart, I wonder. My exercises went well & my Indian Lyric “Less than the Dust” which we took for the first time, then we took the sacred solo “Remember now Thy Creator” & this is what hurt. My opening, Madame said, was nasal, a thing I wish to overcome then the rendering of the opening did not “impress” her. Then at the opening of the Recit Passage, I was slow to start, & then failed to take the breath where marked, or rather, failed to take it with such a break as she desired shown: this all in one short bit, & her tone of correction, more than her words, hurt me ever so deeply. I wonder was there anything in my manner which annoyed her; did she think I was indifferent, I wonder!! Then the Recit Passage further on was more like Psalm singing – & I must do it in Oratorio style, with due consideration to the words & in a declamatory style also. I know all this, & yet fail to do it even to my satisfaction; of course it must hurt Madame’s sensitive & musical nature – but I would not have minded it all – if she had not hurt so by her tone, as though I had not cared. I felt so full, I could hardly speak for two or three days & not want to cry. I really felt it would be best to finish with my second term & I did so want tuition for 12 months. Madame & her first three pupils gave items on the following night at a Concert in aid of the Lady Musgrave Hospital. Madame looked strikingly charming, & it made me feel I loved her & yet the hurt came back again. I suppose Madame was not conscious of hurting so. I must say, honestly I was quite disappointed in both Madame & her pupils. Madame sang “Waters of Minnatonka” & “Three Green Bonnets”, but was not encored. I am almost dreading next lesson & yet anxious for it to come. At home I seem to be able to sing real well; I wonder would Madame be satisfied? Mother waited at Madame’s, & afterwards asked if Madame was cross – this of course did not help. I replied – No – but she was firm. Arrived home at 11.45 a.m. quite early, though my lesson was 5 minutes over time. It always is good measure. Sang my first solo in Church on Sunday night 16th Oct “So near to the Kingdom” – on account of Mr Stephens wanting it. Mother told me, without being asked, that it was lovely! & each word was so distinct. The first bit of real encouragement Mum has given. Madame had on a new frock; perhaps it wasn’t comfy.

Oct 20 – 1921 LESSON No 10 (end of 2nd term). Fresh & bright & Very hot

This was a real nice lesson – all through. Madame must have been “out of sorts” last week, as today there was no trace of any ill feeling, whatever. My exercises all went well – also Love Lyric “Less than the Dust” & “She Wandered”. Also ran through another Love Lyric “Kashmiri Song”. I also mentioned about being asked to sing a solo at the Ladies’ Rally on Sept 27th & so Madame was quite interested & wanted to know who would accompany me. She was wanting to arrange with Violet Simpson or Jessie Byrne: but as I was not anxious for either – I called in to see Katie on our way home. Katie was able to arrange nicely to come & as Madame had decided on “Sleep & the Roses” as the solo for me to sing, we practised it together; & I wrote Madame a note, explaining that Katie would play. I also arranged with Madame that Amy should come next lesson with me, & interview her in reference to her voice. Altogether the lesson was a happy one. I took Madame a lovely bunch of caleopsis. She was pleased.

October 27 – 1921. LESSON No 1. Third term. Very hot but Glorious

Today was a lovely day, weather & lesson etc. Amy came to time appointed & we left before 10 a.m. & arrived at Madame’s in good time. Amy was in a good mood, though not the best for singing. Madame gave Amy her interview, which proved very satisfactory. I guessed Madame would be satisfied. So Amy departed, well pleased. Then I had my lesson which was very happy indeed. I do love Madame – though I will not give myself away as I might be selfishly inclined – as there are little things I cannot agree with her in & so I shall not commit myself too much. It was a chatty lesson, which is not always the wisest. But I took her a bunch of caliopses & sweet peas & had a bit of nonsense over the dead flowers which were in the vases from the previous week. I paid my £3-3-0 for the third term- which includes this lesson. Madame also asked me about selling tickets for her Concert, which is to be held in the Town Hall on Tuesday night-Nov 29- prices 3/3 & 2/2. Full programme, presenting 9 debutants & her three others. Also several Operatic Choruses, & a sextette in which she is to take part. I am not anxious to sell tickets for it as she is using Sunday afternoons for rehearsal & I do not feel justified. Madame did not seem to mind overmuch when I let her see that I was unwilling. I fancy I am the only one who is not helping in this way. We again took the Love Lyric & also “Sleep & the Roses” which I sang in the afternoon at the Rally. I do not feel happy about it at all & as Amy liked the song, I gave it to her on Friday. She gave me “Three Green Bonnets”. Then I set out for Mrs Rob Kent’s where I was due for dinner. Rob came to see I got along alright & we had a very pleasant time together: a nice dinner & then on to the Rally at 3 p.m. Then home by 5 p.m. when Alex also came in to tea. Madame had on a new summer frock.

November 3rd – 1921. LESSON No 2 Extremely summery

After a very hot walk, we arrived to time, & Mum went to Mrs Thomas’, but she had gone out. I had another happy lesson – all went well on the whole. Continue with same exercises & songs. We were having a nice wee chat afterwards – till Mum came. Madame mentioned about her “Hubbie” being bad with epilepsy for 16 years & said she does not think he had a fault. Madame’s eyes filled with tears as she spoke of him & repeated how good he was! I & Amy or Maggie are to go to Madame’s to hear the rehearsal on Friday night 4th Nov. Amy made arrangements & had her first lesson on Tuesday Nov. 1st, going to Pialba in the afternoon. Jessie Byrne had been very disheartened also about the time I was – & missed a lesson. I tried to cheer her up – but her Mother went round to see Madame, & fixed matters up & so Jessie called in on Monday afternoon, last to tell me she had her lesson & it was a nice one. Jessie was to have spent Tuesday evening with me, but she did not come & since I received an apology through Katie – as Mother was ill. Katie & Maggie & self attended Wilhelwy’s Hospital Concert. It was all enjoyable – save Mr & Mrs Cozens- I could not say I really enjoyed their singing. Louis Pares, Violinist, & Esmy Hetherington & Ella Smith were splendid – on their own particular instruments & the girls were each presented with plenty of flowers. Next Tuesday night we go to Miss Concannon’s recital & Katie and I have arranged to go to Madame’s concert in reserved seat together.

Mother & I set off together again & arrived at Madame’s to time – Mother going to Mum Kents in the meantime. Madame was not too well but was very pleasant. I had a nice lesson. The majority of the exercises were good though the vowel “oo” is not good & never was – has no quality & seems not to be placed rightly. I must bring it forward & make a good decrescendo. My song, “She Wandered” I did not please her in but the Love Lyric “Kashmiri Song” she is well pleased with & mentioned again that some time, when she gives an evening, I must sing it and another song for her. But, oh dear, how disheartened I feel all round. My “continuity of sound” seems to be lacking & yet she says once I grasp it, I shall be able to go on my own with songs. She also tells me how clever Madge McKinnon is, & only four months on her concert solo & encore – also how clever is Elsie Horn & certainly she did sing well at Madame’s rehearsal the previous Friday. But, though I really am not jealous – I feel discouraged. I wonder if I am doing the right thing in continuing with lessons. She has given me no new exercises & it does seem a lot of money to pay out & then only go over old exercises which I have had for weeks past – also songs – same as I have had for weeks – it certainly does not look as though I am pleasing Madame & I certainly am not pleased with the position myself – how could I be! & yet how consistently I practice, & try my very best to do as she says. Well, looking back, I am ever so much improved & it has been worthwhile so far, even if I go no further. Just fancy – no new exercises since Sept 22 does not sound good to me.

Novem 17 – 1921                      LESSON No 4. Real summer day But a nice breeze

This lesson was another good lesson, but prior to it, Madame got on to the subject of her Concert & incidentally mentioned that she would have liked me to appear at it – only for having taken note of different hints of mine in conversation, she gathered that as we were such a retiring family & also of such a retiring nature – & Mother’s attitude towards Grand Opera, mentioned some while back – she came to the conclusion that we would not desire it. Then she waxed quite eloquent & said that she never guaranteed to present her pupils & her pupils to appear in the Concert on Nov 29 were all at their own request. Also several were teachers whom she expected not to be in M’boro in 1922 & hence wished to put them forward now. Then to show her independent nature, she declared she was not apologising to me & I replied No, Madame, don’t. I don’t like folk who apologise for their actions. Then I realised that Amy had probably given her an idea of my feelings on the matter, as I had expressed to her my surprise etc that nothing of the Concert had been mentioned to me. And when I faced Madame with the question as to whether anyone had been “talking”, she said “No” – but as I asked her to be honest with me, she thought it best to mention the matter & show that no offence was meant. I appreciated it all & by her remarks I gathered she is equally satisfied with my progress as she is with the other pupils, & if I am still of the same attitude of mind – she would probably be able to present me in her next Concert- probably in May. I asked her to speak direct to me in future & not come to any conclusions, as she had in this case.

I was glad Madame spoke on the matter, but am sorry to be misunderstood – for myself only. I would not choose it, but for different reasons, I would like to have the opportunity of the public appearance. But the one satisfaction to me is that Madame is evidently well satisfied with me & so I am. The lesson proceeded well after this, though my vowel exercise was not at all satisfactory. I must also persist in applying the mind to every note– getting the production well backed with the breath pushing it out freely to the sounding board, which is right behind the front teeth. Not one sound must be allowed to drop back. My breath control is evidently good – as she has remarked on it at different times. Also my “Love Lyrics” are good & the relief of having the explanation re the Concert, seemed to relieve me much.

Nov 24 – 1921                          LESSON No 5 postponed

Received a message from Madame over the phone for McSkimmings (evidently Madame has not noticed that we are connected) saying that she had a very bad throat & could not give a lesson. I was very sorry to lose my lesson for more reasons than one. Still I am sorry Madame has a throat, in face of the Concert next Tuesday 29th. But I really wanted to see if Madame would introduce the subject of Kenningham’s pupils. Jessie Byrne was quite upset on Monday after her lesson, by Madame telling her that she heard that Jessie had said, “No wonder Elsie Horn could sing – on account of the tuition received from Kenningham”. As a matter of fact I spoke in general to E. Horn coming from Madame’s on the Friday evening – of pupils with previous tuition should naturally do better than those who had no previous lessons – with particular reference to Miss McCarthy as in her solo she trilled so much. I only wish I had the opportunity of explaining for Jessie’s sake. Still I may yet have the opportunity – and I hope Madame will be reasonable about it, if I do. It is so foolish to be so bigoted towards those in the same profession.

December 1921. LESSON No 5 As hot as hot

Mum & I were just about dressed to go to lesson today, when a ring came from Madame (in town) asking if I could come at 2 p.m. instead of 10.30.a.m. I said I could – & Mum and I were both cross over it, but we soon settled to our work again. It was fearfully hot – but we got through with lunch nicely & dressed again, getting to Madame’s just about at 2 p.m. Madame was well and bright & happy with the result of the Concert which was extremely successful, especially considering a very hot storm which came over between 7 & 8 p.m. I had a good lesson – but I am afraid Madame will think me very cheeky. I asked her about new exercises & she was surprised & not at all pleased. So after explaining about how the voice has all it wants in what I have got, we passed on to the “Love Lyrics” – these gave satisfaction. Next week I am to take up Orpheus “Before the Dawn”, which I had left with her a few weeks before. And when I asked her if she was cross with me- she said she was not used to her pupils dictating to her. So I tried to explain away the feeling, as I had not intended that & she seemed to give in. She came out to the gate with me & gave me flowers off her creeper & had a chat at the gate with Mum & self & we parted best of friends. She explained she was not of a sulky nature & did not keep up ill will. I feel more satisfied that I spoke of the exercises. Re the Concert – it all went off splendidly. All the girls appeared successfully- Elsie Horn appealing most to me, then Madge McKinnon, though her frock was far too short. Madame designed it & was quite upset that I should find fault. But as I said, it was only in the length. The staging effects were splendid. Re the remark concerning Kenningham’s teaching- which I have written previous to this – Jessie explained that Elsie Chesters is responsible for the tale to Madame, so I have not sought to clear the matter – as evidently I am not “in it”. Jessie and self had a long chat on Monday last & also a bit on Wednesday re the Concert. Madame is repeating same, to give those who were unable to attend on account of the storm – on Wednesday night next 7th Dec. I hope Katie will be able to go as she did not get along to the original & Maggie & I did & had splendid seats.

No lesson again, until the New Year – Madame’s Concert was repeated on Wednesday night Dec.7 & was extremely successful. Next day, Madame was ill with a bilious attack & my lesson was off on that account. Today, Friday 9th, I received an invitation to an evening at Memorial Hall, for next Tuesday night given by Madame & Mrs Richards, in honour of her pupils.

February 22nd 1922. LESSON No 6. Third Term Warm & showery

Today at 3.30 p.m., Mum and I left for “Geraldton” – arriving at 4 p.m. I wrote to Madame, asking for the change on account of the heat & she very willingly arranged it, replying over the phone. When I asked her if it put her about, she said, No & was only too pleased. I had a very nice lesson – just taking the more important exercises, & “Orpheus with the Lute”. Madame was not really bright – seemed fagged – though in a very amiable frame of mind to me. Mum went to Mum Kent’s. Madame’s evening, given on 13th Dec, was very nice – all very quiet – no set programme, which would really have been more enjoyable as there was so few items. There were three waltzes – & several games & supper was ready at 10 p.m. arranged on the platform. The tables were all decorated with the flowers of the creeper growing at Geraldton – a pretty star-like flower- some red, some pink & others mottled. The pupils presented Madame with a Xylonite Toilet Set & she presented Mr Munt with a silver mounted baton – as recognition of his services in the Chorus work. We were on our way home at midnight. Madame did not thoroughly enjoy her holiday at the seaside. It was too dead – & too long.

Madame seemed well pleased with my exercises; & it was a happy lesson. The Studio has been rearranged – the piano being nearer the street -& not so nice, I think, for the pupil. Still, it is better for the breeze.

Feb 9 – 22. LESSON No 7 Quite showery

Mrs Greenwood & self went together to Madame, as Mrs G. wished to have an interview in reference to lessons. We got caught in 2 heavy showers & I was a picture – not having taken my coat. Still Madame gave me a towel to rub myself down- while she chatted with Mrs G. As Mrs G is determined to compete at the Eisteddfod – Madame will not take her as a pupil, until after Easter. I had a very satisfactory & happy lesson & gave much satisfaction in the Love Lyrics “Pale Hands” & “Less than the Dust”. Mrs G & Leonard of course came along home together – it raining most of the time.

Feb 16 – 22. LESSON No 8 Bright & fresh & Hot

Mum & I went together this lesson – Mum going with Mrs Kent to see Mrs Sparozvich who has been very ill. They spent only a short while there & I met Mum at Kents- Alice calling for me. The lesson was good also – Madame seems in a particularly nice mood these times. I again gave satisfaction & she gave me a good deal of praise – and when I remarked on it, she said ‘Oh well – it has to be particularly good before I throw praise at you. My voice & my whole attitude & interpretation of the things, seems to have developed & I will tackle songs I never would touch before.

Feb 23 – 22. LESSON No 9 Bright & fresh

Again Mum & I wended our way to “Geraldton” – again I had a good lesson. The exercises went well though in the vowel “oo” I cannot get much quality when my trill is still obstinate, though improving. We took “Orpheus with his Lute” & it went nicely – though Madam is not fond of it. Also the Love Lyric “Till I wake”. Another happy lesson & all is progressing. We took “Waters of Mimietonka” also & it was good.

March 2- 1922. Lesson No 10 Lovely & Bright

This day, Madame asked me to come at 5 p.m. in place of 4 p.m. & so as I had arranged to go to Mrs Rob Kents to tea, & then Rob to take me to Choir afterwards. I went to her place about 4 o’clock & there met Anna (Mrs Merrin) just leaving. Then I went on my own to Geraldton at 5 p.m. Madame had returned from town & was bright & well. We had such a nice time together – I felt free to have a bit of a chat & so I enjoyed it all. Madame admired my boots which happened to be my “bestest” Button Ups – & are really a lovely boot. I had a very happy lesson all through – giving full satisfaction. I returned to Mrs Kents about 6 p.m. & we had tea – & the three of them came down to the Choir practice with me, Eva waiting up the road a little.


March 9 – 1922. LESSON No 1. Fourth Term. Bright & windy & Dusty

Today Mum & I started out & as it was my “Chorus Com Evening” night I was rather anxious to get home in good time & I asked Mum not to be late. So she visited Mrs Thomas while I was at lesson. After lesson which was very happy &good, Mum let me know how long she had waited for me etc. Oh dear – how these things hurt. My lesson was longer than usual, on account of Madame giving me 2 new exercises for flexibility, which took some time to write out, & also to practice. There was also more or less chat & afterwards I paid her for my fourth term which began today. I paid her in 3 sovereigns 3/- silver. Madame was quite delighted, it being years since she handled gold. Of course Mum & Maggie had each loaned me their Xmas gift of a sov. From Will, & I had my own also. Then Madame was asking me to take my part in the Choruses for her next Concert, which may not be until June or July- more’s the pity. Also asked me to sing a solo & to bring along any suitable “encore” songs.

I did not “jump” at the Chorus work – but Madame seems anxious I should, & I think I will, to take fullest advantage on my singing connection. So far, there has been no one thing in her concerts to object to, & so I am justified, I feel in taking part. I trust all goes well. We took “Bid me Discourse” & Madame told me that is the sort of song I ought to sing: next lesson we are to take “My Mother Bids me Bind my Hair”.

March 16- 1922. LESSON No 2 Hot, Dry & Dusty But Glorious

Mum & I got along in good time – Mum going on to the Post. Madame was limp & fagged from the heat, but seemed well & in good mood. The exercises she took were on the whole good & she said I was in good voice. I must practice the soft & sustained note more – which she gave as a separate exercise. Also the “flute” exercise, I must get much lighter & brighter. Concentrate more on them in practice. The song “Bid me Discourse” went well. I must take it more as a study & continue with it. Also took “Just a wearyin’ for you” one of Carrie Jacobs Bond. Also one of Daisy Mc Geochs – “Joy & Pleasure”. For next week I must take “Oh, Fair & Sweet & Holy”. Madame again asked me concerning the Chorus work – asking what I thought of it. I said I would like to take advantage of it for different reasons but the company would be necessary & it meant I could always be under an obligation to some one. So she said there was no hurry- as they were not commencing practice for a while – & it would not interfere with my singing a solo at the Concert. So for different reasons, I cannot yet decide.

March 23- 1922. LESSON No 3 Hot & Dry & Dusty

Mum went to see Daisy while I had my lesson. This lasted well towards the hour: we talked songs etc. & the coming Concert. Madame seems quite anxious I should take my place & when I suggested it may not be convenient, if there were actions etc. She said she had considered that, & there were none I could not take my part in. She is putting on “The Barcarole” I “Night Stars” & wanted the Band accompaniment: & as an encore “The Cottage by the Sea” – a semi-comic. She ran through this latter & it is exceptionally pretty. She took “Joy & Pleasure” also “Bid me Discourse” & “O Fair & Sweet & Holy”. She suggested Grieg’s “Solveig Song” for the Concert – but had not decided on it” says it is a classic – not too long – suit my voice etc. She is awfully nice & I enjoy every bit of my lessons. She seems well pleased with me also. Next day may take “Robin Adair” & “Comin thro the Rye”. I called for Mum at Daisy’s & we got home some time, after calling in at Mrs Thomas’.

LESSON No 4. Hot & so dusty-but fresh & glorious. March 30 – 22

Arrived at Madame’s to time, & went right on with the lesson. All exercises were well done – Madame remarking the heat did not effect me – did not give me relaxed throat etc. We took “O Fair & Sweet & Holy”-also “Bid me Discourse” & then Grieg’s “Solvieg Song”- she played through & told me to get familiar with the air & words by next lesson, but not to sing a note, just learn it from her direct. I don’t know that I am just altogether satisfied about it for the Concert: it is a rather sad toned piece – & I think I would make a better impression on a brighter piece & if possible, I shall tell her so. She has not yet decided on an Encore Number. She also mentioned again to me about the chorus work. I gave my promise to take part provided she could arrange the company for me – to & fro. She said to leave it to her so the first rehearsal will be on Friday night following Easter Monday – 21st April. My lesson was more strict to time, for which I was sorry. I was so enjoying those conversational lessons, lasting towards an hour. Jean Brown came when I was only about half way through; & she follows me now regularly – I guess my time will be neat enough. I am so sorry. Mum was late in calling for me & I heard the majority of Jean’s lesson: for this I was pleased. She seems well advanced for only one term – but that is really equal to two – having two lessons per week. Also she has a very flexible voice _ & a good frontal production naturally. I have done 13 years work on my voice in ignorance so I must be happy I can sing at all acceptably & have the opportunity of learning, even so late.

April 6 – 1922. LESSON No 5 Hot & Dusty

This lesson was good as far as exercises were concerned – on the whole. I give satisfaction – evidently. Madame took “Sobeig’s Song” – but evidently was not so well pleased with it & in passing on, came across “La Serenata” & tried it & evidently thought there was more promise in it for the Concert. So suggested – with violin obligato by Miss Dingle – that it be decided so. I am willing. My soft sustained note is a worry – & Madame is so anxious I should do it well, so am I

April 13 – 1922. LESSON No 6 Very hot & dusty

This day, Mum & I went to lesson after having been for 1 1/2 hours at the eisteddfod. We arrived to time, & found Miss Molly De Gunst of Bundaberg. & her teacher- Miss Marles(?) visiting Madame & having tea. They shortly departed – Madame was delighted to meet them – & to find how well Molly was doing under her former pupil. Molly competed in the eisteddfod with soprano 2nd grade & Champion – but won neither. Her voice to me is rather harsh. I had a nice lesson – we finished off “O Fair & Sweet & Holy” & took “La Serenata” – I rather fancy I am over familiar with it, to do much good at it for a concert number. Madame again referred to her rehearsals & suggested Miss Elsie Chesters to accompany me. But I let her see I was not willing to accept the obligation it would incur. I must admit I am not predisposed to her or her people – & so prefer to deny myself the advantage of the Chorus work – which after all would have more disadvantage to me. On Saturday 15th I received word from Madame, suggesting the Chorus work drop – as she was not caring about the responsibility of arranging the company for me each week. So I wrote in reply – telling her it was my intention to withdraw my promise to take part & I would fully explain my reason the next lesson. Certainly Madame is not willing to allow her pupils much self assertion – even to recognising principle – I should say, so this makes me wary of her. She is awfully nice & yet !!

April 20- 1922 LESSON No 7 Hot & dry & Dusty

This lesson, I took Madame a few of our own grown bananas: she accepted them very nicely – but I sometimes wonder if she does accept them with pleasure. Well, Rev. Elliot was visiting her, & Taking tea, so I had to Wait a bit again. Well – when I went in to the studio, I introduced the matter mentioned in out letters, & I explained my attitude, as far as she would allow me; but again she explained she wished the whole affair to be cosmopolitan – (able to sink local prejudices) but dismissed the subject by telling me not to worry further about it. But I a prepared to stick to my principles & so if Sunday practice is required I feel prepared to forego my place on her programme, if she does not respect my attitude. Evidently her pupils individually must give way always to hers; but I object to this. My exercises went well – save my sustained note; but I hope to master it yet. La Serenata was not too good either. We went to “Madame Serena’s” Recital on Wed. night 19th. She is a talented contralto, wife of Roy Mellish – adjudicator for the Eisteddfod. It was so enjoyable. She sang 20 songs & he accompanied her – all without a note of music. Her enunciation was great & one longed to be a good contralto.

April 27- 1922. LESSON No 8 Cooler & not so Dusty

I arrived in good time & Madame seemed brighter but oh dear – whatever was the matter with me – not one exercise was good. My trill was far from satisfactory & Madame spent a great deal of the lesson trying to get the two notes well placed forward – a good breath pressure behind, & each note equally sounded in quick succession to the other. The more she explained, the more obstinate it seemed & though Madame did not lose her temper, I felt quite upset over it. Then there was the staccato – which she seems to be always satisfied with, & whether she is conflicting in her statements, I know not – but she mentioned it as another unsatisfactory one. Then there was the cadenza – very untidy, uneven etc. & I had to take it so slowly – which seemed to only make matters worse. Then “La Serenata” followed, & it also was not good. In spite of Madame’s protestations, that I am not the only one, & I must not get disheartened. I admit I really am – & I feel I cannot pay another 12 months tuition if my exercises are so unsatisfactory after all the practice I put in, during this 12 months. She says I seem to lack will power to throw the voice forward & place right behind the teeth. I also close my lips over the tones, before they are finished, & evidently yesterday revealed nothing but faults, & I have so applied myself to the singing. I love it. Another bad exercise was “Dol-Lol” – etc. I got something else into it beside Lol so in spite of her reassurances that I am not the only one – which is really not much consolation – I feel inclined to end my tuition with this term. The walk & preparation & all the detail, seem too much expenditure for the result – aside from the fee. Mother always regrets having to go, & it is all a strain & I expect I shall never have more demand on my voice than I have now – & I can meet all those demands to the best of my ability. I shall see what next lesson reveals however. Madame is awfully nice & considerate, but all the same – it hurts.

May 4th 1922 LESSON No 9 Hot & Dusty

Mother & I went again together – & I had a good lesson. It was ever so much more encouraging. I had the song – “Every Sabbath Thine Altar” & my exercises & “song” seemed to be quite alright. So I went away the next morning quite encouraged. We left Pallas St Station for Gympie at 7 a.m. -3/4 of an hour late.

May 25 – 1922 LESSON No 10 Fresh & Wintry

This lesson was really good – still more encouraging. My exercises & songs all went very well. This lesson was postponed from May 11 on account of being in Gympie on holiday, & again from 18th on account of Madame having a severe cold, & being laid up for a week. Madame seemed in a chatty mood & I was nor sorry to have the opportunity. Dad being home, also on account of cold etc. & we having the Church trap – he drove me, Mother having gone at 2 p.m. to see Mrs Thomas. Dad called again for me, then for Mum & we drove down to Mrs Ridgley’s. We got home about 5.45. So next Thursday – I shall expect to start my fifth term. I secured some nice pink Crepe de chene at Gympie, also floral sash for my Concert frock. I hope all goes well.

June 1st 1922 LESSON No 1. – 5th term Grey & Wintry

What a lot occurred in this half hour! No, I did not pay for my new term. As soon as I got in, & was preparing for my lesson, Madame spoke of seeing my name in connection with the Cong. Church Farewell to Rev Fairfax & asked if I was singing. So innocently I answered “Yes” _ & then she talked so about the inconsiderate attitude towards her in rushing into public appearance etc etc, & I was so taken by surprise I hardly knew how to reply. She continued at such a rate & spoke of her independence – not being from hand to mouth, depending on her pupil’s fees etc, & suggesting I give up the idea of the Concert altogether – as she now could not say it was my first appearance – she was not bringing me out etc & after all her trouble in securing an artist to supply the violin obligato, & pay her & all the work she puts in “working like a nigger” as she expressed it, dear oh dear, I felt it was so unjust & so uncalled for. So when I got a chance to say a word, I let her know, I had not known she had such an attitude towards singing in public & if I had known it, I should most certainly respected her wishes. As she had told me once, I could “sing anywhere now”, that was in reference to singing at the Baptist Rally in November 1921. She protested she had not said so, & I persisted in it; & also mentioned how she urged me to sing, against my will. Then to show how deeply I had trespassed, she spoke of overlooking so much, such as my choir connection & my place in the Chorus work etc etc. & I evidently did not appreciate it enough to consider her, but must rush into the singing without any consideration to the fact that her Concert was so near etc. Of course I explained I did it simply to oblige &, as it was such a small gathering amongst themselves that it was of so little consequence, as not to be worth troubling about. But she was not easily satisfied. Spoke again of her art being so lightly esteemed, that we were willing to sing for any 2 ½ penny thing & made ourselves so cheap, that we would not even get thanks. She gave me to understand that she expected her pupils only to sing if receiving fees: & then the public would recognise their value. I answered that I had trespassed innocently enough, & Had I known she felt so, I would certainly have given her due thought; but it was of so little consequence to me, I had not thought of mentioning it. But if she felt so about it, I would take her suggestion that I close my connection with her, for which I was sorry as everything had been really happy & of course I could & would not take my part in her Concert, as she would not be happy about it, & neither would I. Then she softened & spoke so well of me in every way – told me I was the soul of honour & she truly believed me; that she was sorry, as I had always been very welcome at her studio, & always would be. She emphasised the fact that she had always thought well of me & always would, even if I did decide to finish my tuition straight away. But she suggested I think it over & let her know. She also spoke well of my voice, and how nicely it had responded, & to keep on with the exercises & I would continue to improve & never go back. Then asked me not to worry about the affair, to always feel free to call on them at any time, & I would be made welcome, as this episode would make no difference to her in her feelings towards me; she was done of it. She anxiously pressed me not to worry over it, & I told her I could not help it, it “hurt” so. So she again said it was not worth while to worry about & said “Bye-Bye” as kindly as she could. But I was feeling too full to be easily consoled, & went away. She said I say “Bye-Bye” but it is only “Au Revoir”. But I gave her no hope that I would be back. I told her she would hear from me, whichever way I decided. She had also said, that she intended suggesting, perhaps at the end of this term, that I continue by myself for a term & see how I got on. I told her that I would rather take my lessons in the cooler months, & take a respite in the hot months. But I appreciated it all the same. But oh! How the episode hurt altogether. I met Mum at Mrs Kents, & they all expressed surprise at me being ready so soon. Of course I said nothing. But I was fully decided not to go back to Madame. I could not. But however, after tea, she rang up, & said she had been worrying about me ever since I left, & rushed down after tea to phone me, to ask me not to worry further – that she wanted me to come to lesson next Thursday as usual, & we would go right on with the Concert. She was anxious to know had I been worrying – I said I could not say I hadn’t; & she said to worry no more. She had not been able to get me out of her mind & so she hoped to see me next Thursday.

Just fancy – what a condescension on her part. She is so proud of riding the high horse. I know, & again I admit, I appreciate the fact of her “coming down” & shall go back. Nothing else would have altered my decision. So we shall see what Thursday brings.

I have prayed about it so much, & I accept the fact of her “coming down”, as an approbation from God, to go right on. For really I do not want to give up the position the Concert will offer. I trust all shall go smoothly now. I only mentioned the matter to Maggie – & unless anything more serious occurs, I shall not speak of it further. Just think, it is just 12 months since I commenced.

                           END OF FOURTH TERM

June 8 – 1922. LESSON No 1. Fifth Term. Perfect Winter Sunshine

This day Mrs Greenwood & Leonard accompanied me to Madame’s. I was a trifle nervous to know how I would find her. But she received us graciously & after a short delay (on account of a visitor) she made arrangements with Mrs Greenwood to start her tuition on Wed next June 14th . Then she called me to the studio to have my lesson. Everything went well, as if nothing unpleasant had ever passed between us. She was very, very nice & genuine in her manner in every detail. No references whatever being made to the previous week. I had a lovely lesson & very encouraging in every way. During the winter I must give the sustained vowels an early morning practice, to clear the throat – also must continue without fail, my breathing exercises, Madame remarking I needed a little more chest development. We took “I love Thee” for practice the next day. “La Serenata” was not touched, she remarked she did not want to fill me up with the concert piece. For an encore, we shall repeat part of it, on account of the Violin Obligato – place must be given to Miss Dingle. Madame was quite business like to Mrs Greenwood – & not at all encouraging. Mrs G. mentioned to me that Bert Smythe & Madame are not friends any longer – over a circumstance similar in a way to mine. Madame must be very hasty.

June 15th 1922. LESSON No 2 Dull, Grey & Wintry

Arrived to time, accompanied by Mrs Rob Kent who had been for a fitting. We had a nice wee chat on the way. Such friends are worth while. Madame received me graciously – she looked charming in a knitted wool costume – in brick red or Henna – the latest. She was sweetly powdered & was so very nice. I had a very nice & happy lesson, exercises all being encouraging – even the trill. But I do need more attention on the sustained soft note – clear- & forward production – we must just keep at it. We took “Down Here”, but need it in key of F, so shall change it, if I can. Also took “La Serenata”, & it went nicely. Altogether we spent a very happy time together. But Madame was anxious to get to town, & so we finished at 4.35. I met Mum, near Mum Kents. I must get a very light touch, but with confident frontal production – as light & bright as possible, in every exercise. I do hope my Concert Connection will be successful in every way. I do not wish to throw myself away for public applause: but I would like to be an acceptable soloist. How easy it would be to just give myself over to it, without any consideration of principle & profession! But this I cannot do. I want to be worthy in all things. So I pray my singing connection shall be blessed.

July 13 – 1922. LESSON No 3 Bright & Sunny

This lesson was received in Madame’s new residence in North Street – it was not over satisfactory, as the missing of three lessons seemed to have not been without a detrimental effect. But Madame as awfully nice & paticut in spite of my seeming dullness. Her throat had not fully recovered the trouble of the two previous weeks. I had missed my lesson on account of Madame on two occasions, & one day was very stormy. I wrote Madame to ask her to excuse me for that day. Things are not too promising for the Concert at this rate, which has been arranged for 24th August – a Thursday. We took “My Treasure” & “Down Here” & “La Serenata”. I do hope I make a successful appearance.

Friday August 4th – 1922. LESSON No 4. Bright Sunny & Very Windy

I Had my lesson on Friday morning in place of Thursday afternoon. Madame rang on Thursday afternoon, asking me, (rather haughtily) to come on Friday morning as it would be very inconvenient for her to give me my lesson then. Of course I had to agree – but after having missed two lessons, at her request (on account of ill health) I felt she might at least have made it convenient to give me my lesson at the usual time However – we arrived at 10.30.a.m., & I had to wait for 10 minutes till another pupil finished hers. Then Madame (rather haughtily again) asked me to change my lesson to Friday morning as a regular thing, as she wished to arrange to have Thursday afternoons free for herself – as she must now take care of herself. She also reminded me that I was finishing with this term, (& so as much as to say “you do not deserve further consideration”. I do) I do not like this style of hers: she tries to be too independent, & yet she does depend on her pupil fees to keep her. However, when lesson started, she was her nice self again, & everything went splendidly. She remarked I had not been backsliding & I was producing well, etc etc & all my exercises were very satisfactory: also the song “La Serenata” & “Serenade” by Gounod. We looked at “Jhelum River”, & I am to take a solo from there next week. Madame & her Mother were to go to Pialba on Friday afternoon for about a week. I wonder will the Concert eventuate on 24th inst. I should hardly think so – as no advertisement has appeared as yet, & there has been no mention of tickets. Madame has been far from well, & has a good deal to recover. I feel sorry for her – I am so happy & well.

August 11th 1922. LESSON No 5 Very Warm Sunshiny

Mother & I arrived to time, & Mum went on to Mrs Kents. I had a while to wait – while another pupil – Ethel Young – finished her lesson. I had a very nice lesson, particularly at the exercises. Madame saying she had been a bit concerned about my lessons – they had not been so good: but these two lessons had been splendid. We took “La Serenata” & “Ashoo – the song of the Bride”. She does not seem too well satisfied that it suits me. I wish she would introduce something she would be pleased with. She is very slow in this respect & I think she could do more to introduce music to me – as she knows I get out so little. Well, I shall be glad when the Concert is over. I feel quite anxious in a way. Madame has not yet arranged a Practice with the Violin – nor given me an opportunity of appearing at her Rehearsals. I wonder if I really am in her way. Or what is the reason of her reticence. I took ½ doz tickets to sell. The Concert is to be on Aug 31st. I am wearing a pair of “buck” white Court shoes of Susan’s to get into shape for the Concert. I hope my appearance shall be a success from every standpoint, & for a higher purpose.

August 18- 22 LESSON No 6. Very Warm & Sunshiny

This lesson had to be postponed – as Madame had a bad bilious attack, consequent on the Masonic Ball. Mother & I went round – & had our walk for nothing. Madame had sent a message by a pupil, but she arrived about ten minutes after we left home & we did not meet on the road. I am anxious next Friday’s lesson shall be successful – as it is the last, prior to the Concert on 31st. I wonder how all things will go. I am rather dubious of Madame these times. Her manner does not encourage confidence from me; & I feel I shall be glad when my term ends – only 5 more lessons to go.

LESSON & REHEARSAL – (No 6). Sept 4 – 22

On Thursday 24th August I had a ring from Madame, arranging a rehearsal with Miss Dingle, at the Town Hall, on Friday at 1.45 p.m. In a rather haughty manner, Madame informed me it would be lesson & rehearsal in one. This served me admirably – as it did away with a Sunday Rehearsal, which I had anticipated as being inevitable. Well, Friday arrived, & it found me to time, accompanied by Maggie. Madame & Miss Dingle each arrived in a couple of minutes, & we had our practice. Madame was rather haughty at first, but very soon was her nice self – took me up to the platform herself & I sang very satisfactory. “La Serenata” – with Violin Obligato. Then she escorted me down again, & I went through it on the floor of the Hall – again without any hitch whatever. Madame seemed well satisfied. Then we parted. Later, we met Madame in town, & she was awfully nice, & again told me how well I sang, & how pleased she was – this gave me confidence once again toward her, & so I went on happily anticipating the Concert with much pleasure. She also arranged for me to take a lesson on Monday, 28th at 2 p.m. I had 1/2doz tickets from Madame – sold them & procured another half dozen & sold them easily – having to buy 2 extras from T. Miller to complete “bookings” for our company. Madame seemed very pleased when I told her.

Monday Sept 28th 1922. LESSON No 7. Stormy & Warm

Mother & I arrived at “Steffani” the residence Madame occupies in North St – (evidently named after her Sydney Professor) at 2 p.m. sharp. I had a while to wait – then Madame appeared, & I had a very nice lesson, though at times disjointed with Madame remarking on etc. in connection with the Concert etc. She was quite excited. Took “La Serenata” again, & she was well pleased Also handed in money for tickets. Mother & I just got home nicely ere the storm broke.

Wednesday night’s Rehearsal. August 30 – 22

Madame held her final & full rehearsal at the Town Hall on this night – & the whole programme was undertaken as set out for the Concert. Evidently my solo was alright, as Madame did not need to correct or otherwise anything. She took my hand & “presented” me, as she herself proposed so nicely – & which I appreciated. We did not stay to the end of the Programme. We went into the body of the Hall for the latter part – quite a number of folk were in the Hall – evidently those who had accompanied the singers.

THE CONCERT August 31st 1922

The day broke, gloriously fine, & continued perfect all day. Anne arrived in due course, & made pleasant company. Mother was not at all encouraging or pleasant. In fact, carried an “injured” sort of air all day. Refused to go to the Concert. (Dad had shown himself mean over the ticket and she would not accept my offer.) Well, in due course I had my bath, did my hair, which gave no trouble, & got tea; afterwards I got fully dressed. My silk slip & pink crepe de chene frock, with white “buck” shoes & silk stockings, made a very pleasing appearance. In fact I easily felt equal to the best dressed: & no doubt the most dainty Frock with long body effect, bloused over floral sash. Lattice effect of rolled voile de soic at neck & inset of short sleeve: defined with bugle beads. Hem & tuck stitched with bugle beads. I was quite composed & calm & really felt that my wee friend – Mary Halliday- had robbed me of all nervousness, & borne it all herself. She had made my appearance such a definite matter of prayer. I also rejoiced in Anne’s remark afterwards, she kept offering a little prayer for me, until after I appeared. Well my time arrived- early on the Programme & Madame took my left hand, & led me out so nicely – & I received quite an enthusiastic reception. The introduction being long, I had time to compose myself – & take in my audience. I really feel I did well, & certainly received an encore – but as it took Madame & self so long to accept the three bouquets I had presented to me, also a box of home made Scotch shortbread – I did not return to respond to the encore, Madame remarking – “It was lovely as it was; leave it at that”. So I do hope she was sincere in her remarks, & that she was fully satisfied. My bouquets were mainly sweet peas – such pretty bunches – one from Katie & Mary – one from Mrs Greenwood & Flavel, & one made by Maggie – composed of flowers given earlier in the week by Mrs Ridgley. The short bread was a gift from Mrs Thos Miller. How I did appreciate it all! There were white streamers on two of the bouquets, & pink ribbon round the box of shortbread. Different ones remarked on “how lovely” I looked, & I really believe I did for once, look just “charming”. Reue Bauer came down next day with a bouquet of daisies & violets & lovely ferns – & congratulations on my singing & my appearance , my composure etc. Reue said my dress was the prettiest dress she had ever seen & was so nice about it all. Mrs Lomas, Lizzie Robbins, & others congratulated me – and I really felt so happy about it all – everything had gone so nicely, & the way had opened up so wonderfully. Mrs Howard & Anne & Maggie & “dear wee Mary”, & Katie all have said how very nice it was & how lovely I looked. So I feel I have made quite a successful debut, but I do not feel one scrap “swelled headed”. Wee Mary came home & slept with me that night – & how restless she was, she is far from well. I also received an urgent wire of Best Wishes & Love from Will & Lucy – a week before (in mistake of date).

Sept 15 – 1922. LESSON No 8 Sunshiny & Windy

Mother & I arrived at Madame’s to time – I had missed my lesson on Sept 1st also 8th – the former on account of the Concert the night before & the latter on account of a bad throat I had developed. How annoyed I felt, that I should have to humbug Madame at all – especially as I am so near the end of my lessons. I wrote a note, & Maggie delivered it on the Thursday night. I missed Choir that night also. Madame was her “genuine self this lesson – I mean by that she was in no flattering mood – but what she said she meant. We had the lesson – exercises were no trouble – but when I got to the song “Gounod’s Serenade” – my voice had no quality whatever – & I could not sing at all satisfactorily on account of a persistent little cough that would annoy. However Madame kept her patience well (she could see I was not really well, on account of the cold), & then we compared notes at & how the lessons stood. Madame allowing I was correct when I said I was due for two more: her book really showed only one more – but I am correct. Madame referred to the Concert, & seemed well satisfied with all. I asked her definitely if she was pleased & satisfied with me & she said she thought I did splendidly – especially for the first time to such a big audience – my reception was splendid & my appearance in every way was very acceptable. She herself was very pleased. But – she would tell me I did better on the Friday afternoon rehearsal in the Town Hall. But she knew what I could do, & was very well satisfied. As to the encore, Madame remarked, we seemed to waste more time getting off after my item – & we certainly did as Madame was receiving my bouquets & “shortbread” & attending to me & by the time we retired the applause had subsided & Madame remarked “it was lovely as it was, Jessie, let it be”. So I was satisfied. My opening was a little slow, & Madame urged me on a little. But only she knew it. Oh well – everything went happily & Madame seemed genuinely satisfied – so am I. Mrs Greenwood just took the one term & finished last Wednesday. Sept 13- 1922.

Sept 29 – 1922 LESSON No 9 Bright & Warm & Sunny

This day – “Wee Mary” took me to my lesson – as she had been over in connection with her sewing, the day before & had stayed the night so as to be handy for fitting. Madame received me quite nicely – & we went right on to the lesson. Exercises were very fair- particularly “Rhetorna” – but the remnant of cold still interfered with things, & the phlegm was in my throat & my voice was tight. This told very much, when we got to the song “Gounod’s Serenade” & “Do You Remember”. But Madame was very very nice & said she would keep at me now for the next two lessons – as they were my last, it would do me good. I am really loathe to finish my tuition, but I feel I have sufficient to serve the purpose I started for & there is a pressure of expenditure, that I feel I need to draw in somewhere. Mary called back for me – having spent a while in the Gardens. She is a bright wee companion – & very quaint.

Oct 6 – 1922 LESSON No 10 Fifth Term. Bright & Hot

This was my last lesson & all went well. Mother took me to Madame’s & then went on to Mrs R. Kent’s. As I went up the stairs of “Steffani”, “Topsy” barked furiously but I am never feart of Topsy. Mrs Richards answered the door – & I thought she had some trouble by her style, & I felt I had intruded. Madame came in to the studio shortly after, & also showed signs of tears, I fancy – & did seem in trouble. She asked after me, & then I asked after her health – she said “pretty well” – but I persisted by saying, “You are not well, Madame,” & she said – “Never mind, Jessie, we will go on with the lesson”. Of course she was not likely to confide in me. I am not a particular friend – only a business connection. The lesson all went very well – all exercises & also songs. Then at the close I said “Thank you for just everything, Madame, I am loathe to finish my tuition you know” & she replied “the pleasure was mutual Jessie – I know you cannot keep on forever”, & then we went to the door & she unexpectedly kissed me Good-bye & said not to make a stranger of myself – if round their way to call in- etc; advised me to keep up my practices, & said my voice was very pleasing & I had done very nicely indeed, with the 12 months tuition & then I went. I’m happy to have had the connection & I am satisfied our parting was quite friendly but not familiar & I feel I have her respect. Madame is a peculiar person – very splendid in many ways, but very authoritative & vindictive – as Mrs Tom Miller says – she combines several women in one.

As I write on Oct 24th I recall that on 21st , Madame advertises a “Farewell Concert” for 21st November. So evidently she has unexpectedly made arrangements to leave our city, (unless it be a trick of the profession).