Page images
PDF
EPUB

a

the front of which may be felt in the throat under the chin. This part of the windpipe is called the LARYNX. It opens into the mouth just back of the root of the tongue. When we swallow, this opening is closed so as to prevent the food from getting into the windpipe, which is both unpleasant and dangerous; when we speak, however, it is necessary to have this opening as free as possible.

All vocal sounds are begun in the larynx, which has within it a pair of lips called the VOCAL BANDS or CORDS. The edges of these are set in vibration by the air, as a violin string is by the bow or the reed of a clarinet by the breath of the player. Those of us who whistle adjust the lips and produce sound in much the same way that nature adjusts the vocal bands and produces speech; only nature, being a much more clever artist than the best whistler, manages her task in a far more delicate and perfect manner. She knows exactly how to make the sound we wish, and only asks us to let her alone and give her all the room possible in the mouth, in order to let the sound out after it is made. The throat, therefore, should be perfectly free and unconstrained, and we should particularly avoid making chewing or swallowing movements during speech, which, as we have seen, tend to shut the voice in.

Do not open the mouth so wide that the speech seems labored, nor keep it so tightly closed that the sounds seem to come through the teeth; it should be opened gently and comfortably. Do not pull the jaw

[ocr errors]

down, but let it relax naturally at the back, as if it dropped away from the upper jaw.

Let the tongue lie loosely, and easily in the mouth. Do not twist it about unnecessarily nor cramp it in trying to keep it quiet. If the tongue persists in rising at the back so as to obstruct the sound, practise the vocal exercises with the tip pressed against the teeth and the back drawn down as in gaping, until the bad habit is overcome. Do not make this manner of practising habitual, however, or you will injure your voice. We shall have more to say of the tongue when we come to the subject of articulation.

It is important that the passages in the nose be kept free and open for the passage of sound. "The practice of humming for a few minutes daily is of value for gaining “ head-resonance," as it is called; that is, vibration of the resonance-chambers in the face. TO THE TEACHER :-Illustrate some of the wrong ways of using the

vocal apparatus; for instance, speaking with collapsed chest,

nasal, “throaty” and “muscular” qualities, and impress upon the minds of pupils the necessity for a simple and unaffected manner of speaking with pure, resonant tone. Correct bad habits whenever they appear. If you teach other subjects, do not wait for the elocution bour, but insist that the multiplication-table be given a meaning as well as the reading-lesson. The habit of retined conversation is of more importance than the acquirement of a few showy pieces for exhibition purposes. The foregoing lesson may be used with good results as a study in emphasis, as the meaning will thereby be brought home to every pupil-an important point, as this lesson furnishes the key to many succeeding exercises.

LESSON X.

Vocal Exercises.

Startof the Tone. Practise breathing-exercises for a few minutes as in Lesson IV., but breathing through the mouth as well as through the nose, letting the jaw fall easily. We should always breathe through the nose except in speaking or singing, when we use the mouth also.

EXERCISE I.

(1) Open the mouth as if to say ah. Be very care

. ful that there is no constraint at the throat, and that the back of the tongue does not rise in the mouth.

(2) Slowly inhale through the mouth.

(3) As soon as an ordinary breath has been taken, trying not to allow any air to escape from the lungs, pronounce in a moderately loud tone the vowel-sound ah, as if asking a question.

(4) The instant the sound ceases, let the breath go; then, without closing the mouth, and still keeping the jaw relaxed, breathe in again and repeat the exercise.

Practise in a series of ten repetitions. Use also the sounds ā, ē, 7, and öð.

Remember (a) to retain the breath while making the sound ; (b) to let the breath go the instant the sound ceases; (c) to keep the 'open, relaxed position of the throat and mouth during each series.

EXERCISE II.

Practise in the same way, sustaining the tone on a level as in singing.

EXERCISE III.

[ocr errors]

Practise with falling inflection.

These exercises should also be practised with the hands in the various positions indicated in Lesson IV., in order to be certain of the proper action of the breathing-apparatus. TO THE TEACHER :--At first the pupil should not be allowed to proLESSON XI.

long the sound in any of these exercises beyond the time that would naturally be occupied in an ordinary interrogative slide. After practice, however, pupils should be drilled in sustained tones, with instrumental accompaniment if possible, until a fair amount of sustaining power is acquired. Watch carefully in all these exercises that the tone starts full and free and with precisely the same quality and volume at the beginning as during the continuation. See that the pupil conquers the tendency to shut the throat just before beginning. Do not work for noise but for good quality of tone. The tone should not be pushed out, but should seem almost to be drawn in from without. See that all activity is confined to the breathing-apparatus ; it is the breath which governs the tone. After a time, practise with crescendo, diminuendo and swell-effects. In the very beginning I work only for the sense of perfect relaxation, paying no attention to the fact that the tone at first is sure to be unmusical, because badly placed. Afterward, but not until the habit of control by the breathing-apparatus exclusively is firmly fixed, I direct the pupil's attention to the quality of his voice, but making improvement so gradual that freedom is never sacrificed to anxiety for rapid prog

ress.

Articulation.

If we compretely relax the jaw, lips, and tongue, opening the mouth just wide enough to let out the sound, and then vocalize in the most indifferent manner possible, we produce something between a grunt and the sound of u in hurt. The sound is indefiniteinarticulate. Very likely the earliest attempts at speech were little better than a series of such vague sounds, more or less modified by different positions of the jaw and tongue. As the race progressed in language-making these sounds became more clearly defined and further separated from one another; more delicate variations were introduced, the sounds were combined in various ways, until, at last, man possessed articulate language.

Articulation has been defined as the correct and elegant delivery of the elementary sounds in syllables and words."

These are classified as vowels and consonants.

The VOWELS are the foundation-sounds of the language. They are formed by various positions of the tongue and lips, which modify but do not obstruct the

« PreviousContinue »