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squeezing the bellows near the nose. So it is with the lungs. We can get a much stronger stream of breath by pressing on them down at the larger end, and nature has provided a way to do this, as will be seen in the next paragraph.
Across the body, between the chest and abdomen, is stretched a strong partition, called the diaphragm, which is also a powerful muscle. This muscle stands in the body like a large bowl upside down, with what is ordinarily the bottom of the bowl projecting up
into the chest. It does not stretch straight across the body, but is a little higher in front than at the back. Now, when we take a breath, this muscle contracts and the bowl becomes more shallow. Instead of looking like a bowl, the muscle now looks more like a platter. (See Fig. 5.) By looking at Figure 6, we see that there is now more room above the diaphragm than there was before, and realize that the Fig.5. The diaphragm, the dotted breath we took was what flowed lines showing its position after tak
ing in breath. in to fill
this vacant space. We shall also notice that there is less room below than there was, and so something has had to give, or stretch. This was the wall of the abdomen, the waist has increased in size. Of course, along with this action of the diaphragm, goes the more commonly observed expansion of the chest, the lower ribs aiding in increasing the size of the waist. (See Fig. 7.)
In letting the air out of the lungs the reverse of the action just described takes place. The diaphragm relaxes and lets the breath out. Its elasticity brings it back to position. Here, too, as in taking a breath, there is a general action of the chest, in this case the chest becoming smaller and the lower ribs, especially, supplementing the
FIG. 6. General position of the body before and after taking in breath.
action of the diaphragm by gradually floating back, on account of the relaxation of the muscles about them, to their original position.
There is a way, however, of forcing the air out of the lungs. This is by the use of the strong muscles that form the wall of the waist and abdomen. If you will give the sound of the letter h very forcibly, you can feel the walls of the waist and abdomen strike inward.
This, then, is the stronger and easier kind of breathing. We increase in size around the waist when we take breath, and we decrease in size about the waist when we force the breath out. We do not raise the shoulders.
CAUTION. – Keep the chest well up during both the process of taking breath and letting it out, but do not throw back the shoulders.
4. Standing erect, place the hands upon the waist, and with fingers forward and pointing down. Without raising the shoulders, take a breath slowly through the nose. Feel yourself increase in size about the waist as you do this. Now let the air out slowly, also through the
Feel yourself decrease in size as you let the air out. Repeat three times.
6. Placing the hands upon the waist, fingers forward and pointing down, take a breath slowly through an opening between the lips about the size of a lead pencil. After you have taken a full breath, open the mouth and let the air out all at once. Do not raise the shoulders. If they come down when you let the air out,
FIG. 7. The action of the ribs in
taking breath. you must have raised them. Feel yourself increase in size about the waist as you take breath. Repeat three times.
7. Taking the same position as in Ex. 6, take a full breath slowly through the nose. Through a small opening between the lips force out the air in little jets. Be sure you feel a distinct stroke about the waist. Repeat three times.
8. Give the sound of h vigorously several times. Do not strike down with the upper part of the chest. Obtain definite waist strokes as in Ex. 7.
9. Through slightly opened lips take in a full breath very quickly, without changing the position of the lips, then let the air out as slowly as possible. Repeat three times.
The following cautions taken from Dr. Mills's Voice Production should be carefully observed :
1. Never continue any exercise when there is a sense of discomfort of any kind whatever. Such usually indicates that it is being carried out too vigorously.
2. Increase the depths of the inspirations daily, but not very rapidly.
3. The inspirations and expirations should be carried out very slowly at first.
4. Cease the exercise before any sense of fatigue is experienced. Fatigue is nature's warning and should be always obeyed. It indicates that the waste products which result from the use of the muscles are accumulating and becoming harmful.
It might be added that dizziness is often experienced where the exercises are carried on too vigorously or for too long a time. Stop at once, in this case.
HOW TO GET A PLEASING VOICE
AFTER the speaker is able to take a good position on the platform, and to breathe correctly, attention must be given to his voice, for speaking is the next step.
Beauty of voice depends, first of all, on getting clear tones. There must be no huskiness. The person must not seem to talk through his teeth, or through his nose. The tones, too, must seem to have a ring to them.
If the tones are husky, there is generally something wrong with the breathing. Huskiness is due to the fact that there is too much breath escaping. Practice the exercises in Lesson II until you are sure you breathe correctly, and then, keeping the same style of breathing, practice the vocal exercises at the end of this lesson. Listen very, very closely to your tones to detect any sound of breath escaping. Do not be satisfied until you have an absolutely clear tone. Do not strive for loudness just yet, but get clearness first. It may take a month or so, but stick to it, reviewing the exercises of this lesson every day as you go on with your other work.
If the tones come through the teeth, open the mouth wide and practice on getting open tones.
If the tones are nasal, keep the chin well up and think of throwing the tone out through the mouth.
After you have clear tones, you may start to strengthen them. Keeping the same clear quality, gradually put more force behind the tone until you can make a large