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breath? Whenever you can do so; each time there is a rhythmic pause in the thought expressed. Again, the chest should always remain expanded. The upper part of your chest should never be permitted to sink. As you use the lower part of the.chest and diaphragm in respiration, there is no necessity of any movement in the upper chest region. This upper chest should be moved in pantomime only and not for the purpose of respiration. It must be used for the purpose of resonance. It acts like a drum. This chest resonance is essential to the production of pure, clear, forceful, resonant tones. The early collapse of the chest leads generally to dropping the sound at the end of phrases and gasping for breath at the pauses, two very common defects in reading and speaking.
Get into the habit of breathing through the nose with mouth closed when not using the vocal cords. When you speak or sing, breathe through your mouth.
The lungs must perform two functions: breathing (1) to support life, and (2) to produce pure tone. Some have great difficulty in harmonizing these. Life breathing goes on continually; it is paramount in importance and the speaker must adjust his voice breathing to this.
The following are some simple exercises for practice. Two cautions in connection with practicing these and other exercises that follow farther on should be carefully noted. First, do not overdo the exercises. Never strain the lungs or the vocal organs to the point of weariness or exhaustion. Learn proper
relaxation as well as effort; the proper use of the throat, for example, requires relaxation of the muscles, quite as much as contraction. And secondly, systematic and persistent practice is the thing that counts. Take ten minutes, say, twice a day, and practice the breathing and vocal exercises, and keep at it until faults are overcome and new habits formed. It is the moderate and continued practice that counts. You cannot practice in an hour what should be distributed through regularly recurring periods
during a week. Without overstraining, then, or without too prolonged effort at any time, practice the following breathing exercises :
EXERCISES IN BREATHING AND VOICE CULTURE I. Lie on your back on a couch and breathe normally, quietly. This may be done in the morning before you get up. Your body will then be free from all tight fitting clothing. You will discover that you breathe in the middle of the body, not near your collar bone.
II. Now take in just a little more air than is needed. Hold it a few seconds and then let go completely.
III. Take in more air; hold it a little longer, and again relax completely- let go all at once.
IV. Repeat I, II and III breathing through your mouth.
V. Sit erect in a chair and make yourself breathe in just the same way you did while lying down, repeating II, III, and IV.
VI. Now stand erect and perform II and III.
This may be difficult at first, especially is it difficult for many girls. But intercostal, combined with diaphragmatic breathing must be secured, or you may as well give up all hopes of ever becoming a reader, a speaker, or a singer.
VII. Now open your mouth about an inch; keep tongue lying flat and with no feeling of weight, between the lower teeth, the tip touching the lower front teeth. Now open your mouth in the back as well as in the front; open your throat as wide as possible; and while you are doing all this take in a good, deep breath, and be sure your waist-band seems to tighten. By placing your hands on your hips you may be able to detect this lateral expansion. Now let the breath escape slowly, and control the escape by the diaphragm and not by closing the epiglottis.
VIII. Repeat VII, but as you let the breath escape say, “ah,” as lightly as you can, and then relax completely. Be sure this sound is cut off short-just a little, little tap-not
a prolonged ah-ah-ah. When you relax let go pletely, and your breath will escape normally. It requires an effort to inhale, not to exhale.
IX. Repeat VIII twenty times. You may get dizzy at first, but if this exercise is practiced a short time daily you will soon become accustomed to the excess of
oxygen. There are four points that should be carefully observed : 1. Be sure that your tongue lies perfectly flat, especially in the back. 2. Be sure that your mouth opens in the back as well as in front. Let your jaw drop. This can be detected by observing that the lower lip covers the lower front teeth. Again, if you will place your finger against the side of your face just in front of the ear you will notice a depression forming as you open your mouth. 3. When you give the sound of “ah” you must know that the breath is checked by the diaphragm and not by closing the epiglottis. The breath must never be held by any stoppage in the throat. 4. The open throat is essential. In the initial stage of the yawn the throat opens properly, and the jaw drops down in the correct way. This feeling of relaxation should be felt in performing the above exercises.
X. Pant like a dog, only be sure your tongue stays at its proper place—flat on the floor of the mouth.
XI. Repeat with one breath, the following line from Browning: “Boot, saddle, to horse, and away." Have four distinct diaphragmatic impulses.
XII. Laugh: Ha, ha, ha; ha, ha, ha. Note that you breathe naturally with the diaphragm when you laugh, and that the quick spurts of air causing the laughing sound are controlled by the diaphragm.
XIII. To make sure that you are vocalizing all your breath, use this test: Take a deep breath and at your ordinary rate read as many lines as you can of the following:
And darting and parting,
XIV. Practice for pure tone:
The captain calls to all below,
2. Ohark, O hear! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going !
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
3. Since to all earthly work an end must come, our words of farewell to a fellow-workman should not alone be those of grief