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the ideas of it are simplified and given purpose by such questions as these, which the student can answer in the words of the sentence: What are you urging some one to do? 66 Speak the speech.”i How is it to be spoken? “ As I pronounced it to you.” How did you pronounce it?
Trippingly on the tongue.”
Impressiveness in Speech (a) Students often ask: "How shall I say this line?” The wise teacher will say, in substance at least, “ As your understanding instructs you and as your honesty puts it to utterance.” The teacher may instruct a student in the meaning of a piece of literature and by question, explanation, illustration, and example open his mind to it, but the student gains nothing in being relieved of the burden of doing his own thinking and analysis or by imitating another's reading of a line or stanza which he does not understand. Imitation is a doubtful way of imparting the thought or spirit of any piece of literature. The result may be curious, but it cannot be convincing.
No doubt, much of our knowledge of how to do things comes through imitation. Children learn how to form words by imitating others, but what they speak is determined by their own minds. There is a distinct difference between instructing a pupil in the use and control of his mind and voice and body and in showing him how to speak that which he does not understand, and the purpose of which is not clear to him. A pupil may profitably imitate another when necessary, in acquiring the use and control of his voice and body, the means by which he becomes able to act and express himself; but he gains nothing when another does his thinking and work for him.
1 Why does not “speech" need emphasis ?
(6) Poetry offers a greater range for the play of the im. agination and emotions than most orations do, and when selections are carefully chosen it makes a more direct appeal to the interests and experience of the student, with the result that expression is more apt to be spontaneous and spirited. The occasion of the delivery of notable orations and the conditions that prompted them may be outside of the student's ken, as in the case of Burke's Conciliation Speech, for example, or Webster's Reply to Hayne. The situation and the spirit of the occasion are to be realized only by dint of considerable reading or explanation, and, even with this, rarely does a student come into a very full realization of them. Nevertheless, well chosen passages from modern orations may be effectively used, and should not be ignored. But the vocal rendering of poetry is of vital importance in training the voice for speaking.
Vocal Energy In the study of vocal energy the student should be reminded that none of the modulations, which in this chapter are considered separately, occurs by itself. Every tone has some degree of intensity, duration, and kind of stress. The analysis has been made for the purpose of offering such suggestions for practice in vocal energy as might help in acquiring control of the voice in its full range of expressive power, and in overcoming mannerisms and faulty habits of speech. Lifelessness, drawling, uniform loudness and speed, habitually abrupt and insistent stress, are all faults which practice in rendering various types of thought and emotions will help to remove. Careful study of the different problems will bring the student to a realization of the expressive significance of the modulations of vocal energy, and his mannerisms will eventually give place to a freer, more normal expression. If speech is lifeless and drawling, let the student render thoughts that find true expression in spirited utterance; if unvaried in loudness and speed, let him practice calm and reverential selections; if habitually abrupt, insistent, and dictatorial, he should practice on lines requiring full, sustained median stress. Adaptability of mind, spirit, and voice will come by exercise in rendering thoughts and feelings quite contrary in their normal style of expression to those which are habitually voiced in manneristic utterance.
Rhythm The teacher will find many students whose habitual and characteristic rate of speech is slow or rapid, according to temperament and habit. When these peculiarities interfere with true expression, when they override the influence of the thought and spirit of what is read, they are to be treated as mannerisms. In general, such cases are most effectively handled, not by insisting that speech should be slower or more rapid, but by directing the attention of the student to the significance of the words spoken, by awakening his interest in the thought and his imagination to a vivid reri. ization of the scene pictured or action described, and Ly helping him to understand, by reference to his own experience, if possible, the emotional value of what he is reading. Furthermore, he should be impressed with the fact that he reads or speaks for the purpose of conveying ideas, pictures, and feelings to others. The student will be helped in this if he is permitted to give in his own words the content of what is being read, and to describe the scene, the mood of the writer, the condition of mind and the state of feelings of characters who speak, or who are described, or who have a place in the poem or story. Literature, of whatever form it may be, should be thought of and presented as a record of the thought and experience of living men, and not as a mere conventional arrangement of words.
Vocal Quality In the chapter on “ Vocal Quality” a brief consideration of abnormal qualities of tone has been offered rather for the purpose of explaining peculiar action and use of the voice than to encourage students in an extended practice of impure qualities as such. The student's first effort should be given to the acquisition of a free, natural use of the vocal instrument. Whenever, in the oral rendering of literature, it becomes necessary to express such thonghts and emotions as demand extraordinary use of the voice, the student will do well to give his attention to the sense and spirit of the lines rather than to a conscious effort to acquire a peculiar style of utterance. This suggestion applies with equal force to the study of all phases of reading aloud. The reader is not an actor. It is the reader's duty to suggest rather than portray character. If the voice is obedient, extreme and abnormal emotions, when they are understood and felt, will be intimated in tone quality and that is all that should be attempted. The harshness of Shylock's character will make itself evident in the voice. The demands made
upon the actor, however, are more severe. He must be and live the character before the audience. For him the command of all abnormal qualities of voice is necessary. If, for example, he enact Adam, in As You Like It, he must assume a voice suited to that aged character, a voice thin, tremulous, weak. In the portrayal of such eccentrio individuals as the Gobbos of the Merchant of Venice, he may seek humorous effects in a voice which breaks from an ordinary key and pitch into high falsetto and piping tones. The reader may give a hint of these peculiarities, but no more than that. The acquisition of a voice suited to the realistic portrayal of eccentric characters, or to the occasional intense and abnormal emotions of normal men, such as Macbeth and Brutus, is partly a matter of imitation and experiment and partly of sympathetic adaptation to the attitude of mind and mood of the individual under certain conditions. One who has witnessed a good actor in the scene where the ghost of Cæsar appears to Brutus in his tent at night will readily understand this. The sympathetic reader may suggest the surprise, bewilderment, and alarm of Brutus; the actor must do more. He must give full utterance and action to these emotions. For the time he must live Brutus. Since this phase of expression is concerned more with the art of the actor than with that of the reader, it has not been deemed desirable to devote more space than has already been given in the text to a discus. sion of abnormal qualities of voice.
The Music of Speech The difficulty of teaching the melody of speech is obvie ous. Indeed, strictly speaking, it cannot be taught. Only as taste, appreciation, and musical sense are educated, will musical qualities appear in speech. The teacher may do much toward educating spiritual responsiveness and training the inner ear in the natural melody of speech by sym. pathetic vocal rendering of musical verse and prose. The need of such education is as great as are the difficulties it presents.