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the principal factors in the mechanical processes of speech. Proficiency in these is the result of observation, exercise, and carefully formed habits, habits at once pleasing, distinct, and graceful without self-consciousness or affectation. But back of mastery of the mechanics of speech is the more fundamental thing — the mastery of self. Fine speech proceeds out of fine character. Superficiality and insincerity reveal themselves in habits of enunciation and pronunciation as truly as in tones of the voice. A man is known by his manner of utterance. The individual cannot long conceal himself under external niceties of diction. Clear, simple, agreeable speech is the outgrowth of a well-ordered and disciplined mind, and of genuineness, grace, and strength of character. In the last analysis it is not fine speech itself that exerts the helpful and wholesome influence, but the mind and spirit of the individual made evident and potential in these outward forms. Good speech, like good language, tends to perpetuate itself, not merely through imitation of the speaker's manner, but because, through these visible and audible signs, something of the virtue and character of the man makes itself felt and passes to others.
“Surely, whoever speaks to me in the right voice, him or her I
shall follow, As the water follows the moon, silently, with fluid steps, any
where around the globe. All waits for the right voices ; Where is the practic'd and perfect organ? Where is the devel
op'd soul? For I see every word utter'd thence, has deeper, sweeter new
sounds, impossible on less terms. I see brains and lips closed — tympans and temples unstruck, Until that comes which has the quality to strike and unclose, Until that comes which has the quality to bring forth what lies slumbering, forever ready, in all words."
TRAINING THE VOICE
46. Characteristics of a good voice The first questions which present themselves in taking up the study of the voice are: “ What, after all, do we mean by a good speaking voice ?” “ What are some of its characteristics ?” “How may one acquire these?”
If we study the voices of different individuals we shall observe that, though the voices of no two persons sound the same, though each voice has qualities peculiar to itself, all pleasing and effective voices have certain characteristics in common. We shall find, among other things, that every person who knows how to use the voice uses it with easeNo matter how strong or how light the tone, it is easily made. A voice so used does not become husky or hoarse, nor does it tire or wear out with use. On the contrary, use tends to improve and strengthen it. Another thing peculiar to the good voice is clearness, or purity. The tone is not husky, harsh, shrill, or nasal. Again, the well-managed voice is full and resonant, not piping, thin, flat, or hard. Furthermore, we note that the effective speaking voice is flexible, that it has good range and variety of pitch, and, moreover, throughout its range the character of the tone remains the same, that is, it does not thin out or break over into another kind or quality of sound in passing from lower to higher notes, but everywhere it retains its rich, round, and full resonance. Lastly, the controlled and expressive voice is sympathetic. It is not hard, metallic, and unfeeling, but responsive to the moods and emotions of the possessor. These are some of the more notable characteristics of the good speaking voice which are sought in vocal training.1
The following suggestions and exercises, if carefully observed and assiduously practiced, will do much, it is believed, toward securing these conditions of voice for the individual student. While good results may be attained by the student who must teach himself, the aid of a skilled teacher is highly desirable.2
47. How to gain ease in tone production Much of the prevalent misuse of the voice is, without doubt, attributable to a misconception, held especially by those who have given little or no thought to the matter, that since tone is produced in the throat the muscles of the throat must consequently do the work. In the case of a good many speakers these muscles, assisted by the muscles of the face, actually do the work, and hard work it is, too. No better illustration of this sort of voice use is needed than that afforded by a group of students shouting at a football game or field contest. Nor is better evidence needed of the ill effect of such practice. The hoarseness, and often the temporary loss of voice experienced by students after a game, is sufficient proof of the unnatural strain put upon the voice. Many persons who use the voice much, either in public speaking or reading aloud, or even in conversation, suffer similar, though perhaps not such extreme, consequences from unnecessary muscular tension.
1 In the program here given no technical exercises for quality or color of voice are offered for the reason that such exercises are of slight value. A sympathetic voice is an accompaniment of a sympathetic nature, and technical drills make no great demand on the sympathies and emotions. Literature which makes a strong appeal to the imagination and the spirit affords the best means of developing the sympathetic qualities of the voice. (See footnote, p. 205.)
2 The author wishes to acknowledge his obligation to Dr. S. S. Curry, whose method of voice training, tested through a period of years in college classes, has proved sound, safe, and efficacious. Many of the exercises in this chapter have been drawn from the instruction received from Dr. Curry. For the modification of some and the addition of several others, the author alone is responsible.
Now, tone is contingent upon the breath. Without it there can be no voice. Breath is the motive power of tone. And in speaking and singing the greater part of the energy required should be used in controlling the breath. The energy is in the boiler, not in the whistle. It is to the action of the strong muscles governing breath that we must look for relief from the needless tension of the delicate muscles of larynx and throat. If the voice tires easily, or is hard, rasping, or otherwise faulty, first aid should be given to the breathing
1. Management of the breath. The first thing every human being does in this world is to breathe, and he does it without knowing why or how. Breathing to sustain life is instinctive. It does itself. But, since speech is an acquired thing, we are obliged to learn how to manage the breath for speaking. With certain modifications the muscular action in breathing to promote life and to produce tone is the same. Breathing for life purposes is easy and so natural and automatic that we seldom think of it, and the control of the breath for speech should become as easy and automatic. The breath for speech should be taken in and given out in the same way as it is in the life breathing of the normal person who is unhampered by bad habits or tight clothing.
If you observe the breathing of a child, you will detect very little movement of the chest but a good deal of action at the center of the body. The diaphragm is doing most of the work. When the breath is taken in, the diaphragm contracts and draws down and there is a resultant expansion all round the middle of the body below the ribs. At the same time the short ribs low down at the sides are pushed out. When the breath is expelled, the diaphragm relaxes and the parts at the middle of the body return to their normal position. This is the case when people breathe as nature intended they should. But, unfortunately, the majority of adults leave off breathing as they should, and manage to get along with a little shallow breathing at the top of the lungs. Perhaps this habit of superficial breathing begins in the schoolroom, where pupils are required to sit several hours a day. The sitting position, especially when one leans forward over desk or table, is not conducive to deep and normal breathing. Moreover, tight clothing, which limits action at the middle of the body, necessitates high chest breathing. When one forms the habit of shallow breathing the diaphragm becomes inactive and correspondingly weak, and, if allowed to remain idle long enough, it is reluctant to act at all when required to do so. But, possibly just for exercise and to keep itself from becoming altogether dormant, and taking advantage of times when it will not have to work very hard, it wakes up when we lie down to rest or sleep and assumes its normal action. But whatever the cause may be, almost every one breathes normally when lying at ease on the back. And everybody should breathe in the same way, that is, with the use of the diaphragm, when standing or sitting or walking. Practice the following exer cises until the action of breathing when lying down is made habitual under all conditions.
Exercises in breathing 1. Lie flat on your back on the floor or a couch, place one hand
at the middle of the body just below the ribs and the other on the chest, and observe the action when you inhale and exhale. If you breathe naturally, you will notice a good deal of movement at the diaphragm, and relatively little at the
chest. 2. While lying flat, take your breath, hold it and mentally count
five; then let the breath go. Take the breath again, hold it while silently counting ten, then exhale. Repeat the exercise, counting to fifteen. Give about one second for each count. You will note that whatever effort is made in breathing is