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The preparatory training and discipline of the voice, for the purposes of reading, recitation, and declamation, are of incalculable value, whether as regards the organic results connected with the easy, vigorous, and salutary exertion of the voice, or the healthy expansion of the chest, and the inspiring glow of vivid emotion, which is indispensable to effective expression. Dr. Rush's exact and scientific analysis of elocution, in its connection with the action of the organs of voice, enables the teacher to carry elementary cultivation to an extent previously unattainable, and, even yet, too little known by those who have not paid special attention to the subject. The actual benefits, however, arising from the practical applications of Dr. Rush's system, are equally felt in the exactness of intelligence, which it imparts, regarding all the expressive uses of the voice, and the force, freedom, and brilliancy of effect, which it gives to the action of the vocal organs, whether in the utterance of expressive emotion, or of distinctive meaning addressed to the understanding, by the process of unimpassioned articulation.
* The terms phonation, (the act of producing vocal sound,) and phonology, (the science of voice,) are in current use among physiologists. But the systematic cultivation of the vocal organs, on the elements of expressive utterance, is a branch of education for which our own language furnishes no appropriate designation. The authors of this manual, (one of whom has devoted his chief attention to this department of elocution,) have ventured to adopt, as a term convenient for the purpose, the word orthophony, - a modification of the corresponding French word “orthophonie,"; used to designate the art of training the vocal organs. The etymology of this term, when traced to the original Greek words, – signifying, correct and voice, - sanctions its use in elocution, on the same ground with that of " orthoëpy," in grammar.
The methods of practical training, founded on the theory and the suggestions of Dr. Rush, are attended by a permanent salutary influence of the highest value. They produce a free and powerful exertion of the organs of respiration, a buoyancy of animal life, an exhilaration of spirits, and an energetic activity of the whole corporeal frame, - all highly conducive to the well-being of the juvenile pupil, not less than to his attainment of a spirited, effective, and graceful elocution. The correspondent benefits conferred on adults, by a vigorous course of vocal gymnastics, are of perhaps still higher moment, for the immediate purposes of life and usefulness. The sedentary habits of students and professional men, render them liable not only to organic disability of utterance, and to injury of the lungs, but to numerous faults of habit, in their modes of exerting the organs of speech, — faults which impair or counteract the intended effect of all their efforts in the form of public reading or speaking. The daily practice of vocal exercises, is the only effectual means of invigorating the organic system, or correcting faults of habit in utterance, and the surest means, at the same time, of fortifying the inward frame against the exhausting effects of professional exertion, when either pursued too long in succession, or practised at too distant intervals, - both serious evils, and nearly equal in the amount of injury which they occasion.
The authors of the present work, could enumerate many cases, in which, voice and health, equally impaired, have been restored in a few months, or even weeks, of vocal training, — and still more in which new and brilliant powers of expression, have been elicited in individuals who have commenced practice with little hope of success, and with little previous ground for such hope ; — confirmed wrong habits of utterance, debilitated organs, and sinking health, having all united their depressing and nearly ruinous influence on the whole man.
It is known, perhaps, to many persons, that, a few years ago, one of the authors of this manual, then pursuing a profession in which the most intense exertion of the vocal organs, is perpetually required, seemed, at one time, destined to sink under the effects of over-exertion ; but having seasonably turned his attention to the systematic practice of vocal gymnastics, recovered his tone of health, and gained, to such an extent, in power and depth of voice, as to add to his previous range in the latter, a full octave, within the space of some months; and on devoting himself to the daily occupation of conducting classes in the practice of regulated vocal exercise, the result continues to be a constant accession of vocal power and compass.
This allusion to personal experience, will be pardoned in one who is so often enjoining on others the immense benefit to be derived from the systematic cultivation of the voice, in conjunction with athletic and muscular exercise.* Nor can this reference be dismissed without sincere acknowledgments of the aid arising from the effective influence exerted by gentlemen of the medical profession, in the attempt, made by one of the authors of this volume, to establish the department of education for which the present volume is intended.
It will be perceived, by referring to the subjoined expressions of opinion, that, in pressing this subject on general attention, there is ample professional authority for the expectation of invaluable benefits, as the result of systematic vocal training.t
* The superior facilities for physical culture, at the gymnasium in Boylston Hall, now under the supervision of Dr. D. Thayer, afford to students and sedentary individuals a peculiarly favorable opportunity for uniting athletic training with vocal exercise.
† Opinions of Gentlemen of the Medical Profession, regarding Mr. Murdoch's System for the Cultivation of the Voice.
“Boston, July 29, 1842. I have carefully examined Mr. Murdoch's system of Vocal Gymnastics. It is based upon an accurate knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the Larynx, or organ of the voice. All the details of the system seem to me to be practical, ingenious, interesting, and in accurate conformity to scientific principles. Its obvious utility in developing the functions of the human larynx, and giving flexibility, beauty, facility, and permanent power to the voice; and its eminent effect both in the prevention and cure of the Diseases to which public speakers are liable, give it a strong claim upon the attention of the Teachers in our Schools and Colleges, our Youth, and all whose duties demand a frequent
or great use of the voice.
EDWARD REYNOLDS, Jr.” “We fully concur with Dr. Reynolds in the opinions above expressed.
“ July 30, 1842. The exercise of Vocal Gymnastics, as recommended by James E. Murdoch, being founded on a correct knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the vocal apparatus, cannot fail, if properly practised, under his direction, to develop and strengthen the voice. Persons of delicate constitutions and feeble voices, will receive great benefit from the practice of his system; as it is well calculated to give a healthy action to the Vocal and
We smile at the enumeration of the formal apparatus of Athenian rhetorical education, which, in addition to its long and classified array of grammarians and rhetoricians, furnished, it is said, five gradations of schools for different species of muscular exercise, and three distinct classes of instructers for the voice : one, to superintend practice in pitch; another, to conduct the exercises in force, and a third, to regulate vocal melody and inflections. Modern taste forbids this fastidious multiplicity and minuteness of appliances; but it makes, as yet, no adequate provision for the acquiring of that moral and intellectual power, and that expressive force, which result from the blending of a high-toned physical and mental training.
pulmonary organs; and, in this particular, it is well worthy the attention of parents.
WINSLOW LEWIS, Jr.” "I have had the pleasure of a long interview with Mr. J. E. Murdoch, in which he illustrated his principles of managing and giving strength to the voice; and I am very happy to say, that I can fully concur with Dr. Lewis in his statement of Mr. M's system of Vocal Gymnastics.
Pectoral,» ti aspirated,'« gut-
* The terms enclosed within quotation marks, are peculiar to the system of