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The expressions and positions of the hands may be taught in concert, the teacher or one of the pupils giving the model and leading by number. The sitting position for reading aloud and singing, may be learned from the Cut.
Sit erect with the head thrown back, that the chest may expand and contract freely in the operation of breathing. Place the feet upon the floor. Do not sit with the limbs crossed in reading, speaking, or singing.
How To BREAT Η Ε. .
Deep breathing with the lips closed, inhaling as long as possible and exhaling slowly, is very beneficial. Having inflated the lungs to their utmost capacity, form the breath into the element of long o, in its escape through the vocal organs. This exercise should be frequently repeated as the voice will be strengthened thereby, and the capacity of the chest greatly increased. Do not raise the shoulders or the upper part of the chest alone when you breathe. Breathe as a healthy child breathes, by the expansion and contraction of the abdominal and intercostal muscles, Such breathing will improve the health and be of great assistance in continuous reading or speaking. Great care is necessary in converting the breath into voice. Do not waste breath; use it economically, or hoarseness will follow. Much practice on the vocal elements, with all the varieties of pitch, then the utterance of words, then of sentences, and finally, of whole paragraphs, is necessary in learning to use the breath, and in acquiring judgment and taste in vocalizing. Never speak when the lungs are exhausted. Keep them well inflated.
THE VOCAL ORGANS.
THE LARYNX-ITS MUSCLES AND APPENDAGES.
Having learned how to stand, how to use the hands and arms, how to sit, and how to breathe, we now proceed to the VOCAL ORGANS and their use.
At the root of the tongue lies a semilunar shaped bone, which, from its resemblance to a certain Greek letter, is called the hyoid or u-like bone; and immediately from this bone arises a long cartilaginous tube which extends to the lungs and conveys the air backward and forward in the process of respiration. This tube is called the trachea, or wind-pipe; and the upper part of it, or that immediately connected with the hyoid bone, the larynx, and it is this upper part or larynx which constitutes the seat of the voice. The tube of the larynx is formed of five distinct cartilages, the largest and apparently lowermost of which, together with two other cartilages of a smaller size and power, form the ring or glottis, which is the aperture from the mouth into the larynx. The fourth cartilage lies immediately over the aperture and closes it in the act of swallowing, so as to direct the food to the esophagus, which leads to the stomach. These four cartilages or membranes are supported by a fifth, which constitutes their basis. The larynx is contracted and dilated in various ways, by different muscles, and the elasticity of its different coats. It is covered internally with a very sensitive, vascular, and mucous membrane similar to the membrane of the mouth.
We see then that the organ of the voice is the larynx, its muscles and appendages, and the voice itself is the sound of the air propelled through and striking against the sides of the glottis, or opening into the mouth. The modulation of the voice depends upon the internal diameter of the glottis, its elasticity and mobility, and the force with which the air is propelled.
Speech is the modification of the voice into intelligible articulations in the cavity of the glottis itself, or in that of the mouth or the nostrils.
“A good articulation consists in giving every letter in a syllable its due proportion of sound, according to the most approved custom of pronouncing it; and in making such a distinction between the syllables of which words are composed, that the ear shall, without difficulty, acknowledge their number, and perceive at once to which syllable each letter belongs. Where these particulars are not observed the articulation is defective."
A good articulation may be acquired by carefully repeating aloud, and in a whisper, the elements of the language. These elements are divided into three classes. Vocals, Sub- Vocals, and Aspirates.
The vowels, or vocal sounds, are arranged in the following table for individual and class practice:
A long, as in ale, fate, state, lave, gale.
A intermediate, as in fast, branch, class, mastiff.
E long, as in eve, mete, speed, degree, theme.
I long, as in ice, child, sky, smile, flight.
O long, as in old, dome, bourn, more, poet, glow.
U long, as in few, duty, music, tube.
Oi, as in oil, choice, noise, coin, toy, boil.
Speak the word distinctly and then the element, exploding it with variety of force and on different notes of the scale. For flexibility of voice and good articulation, there is no better exercise than the utterance of the vowel elements with the different inflections, first rising, then falling, then the circumflexes. The practice of exploding the Vocal elements with a Consonant prefixed, first a Sub-Vocal Consonant, then an Aspirate, is of great value in acquiring control of the mouth, teeth, and lips.
Sub-Vocals, or Vocal Consonants should be treated, in the practice, as the Vocals in the preceding table. They are formed by the vibration of the Vocal chords, modified by the organs of speech:
B, as in bat, bag, beet, babbler, beggar, bound.
J, as in jib, joy, judge, June, jury.
Prolong the Sub-Vocal Consonants as follows: b- at d
un, and then pronounce the Sub-Vocal without uttering the word. Then give the Sub-Vocals with the Inflections,
The Aspirate Consonants should be repeated according to the table. Be careful not to waste breath, and utter them with no more power than they require in words:
F, as in fit, fame, fife, fanciful, futile, phantom.
The Elements, we repeat, afford a better exercise in Articulation than words connected to form sense. The drill on the Elements should form a daily exercise in all our primary schools. Change the pitch and force often in reciting them. The student will be well repaid for his trouble if he would study Webster's and Worcester's Dictionaries, especially the introduction in regard to the Elements of the English Language.
If we give the Elements properly we shall have no trouble with their construction into words and sentences.