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the eye to color, the ear to sound, the voice to music or to speech. But in all this instructing and educating process there is a specific end in view, and the greater is the ambition, the more worthy the object, the more strenuous will be the efforts put forth to attain it.
It is essential, then, that the student have at the outset an ambition, an aim; that he feel the importance of the work in which he is engaged. If this be not the case, his efforts will be inadequate to the desired result, and he will fall far short of success.
Let him never pursue a study until he feels it worthy of his best efforts; and, starting with this inspiration, he can hardly fail to reach the coveted goal. Let no one teach without a hearty sympathy with the pupil in his desire for improvement.
There is no branch of education more important than that which treats of the expression of thought-not even the production of thought itself. Man must think; no lack of education can prevent him. As all have thoughts, all will express those thoughts as best they can. Education will give men deeper thought, more methodical habits in thinking, more logical connection in the ideas. He who is taught how to express himself in words (either spoken or written) will, if he practice expression, improve his thoughts thereby. This is seen in the admitted fact of practice making perfect in composition. Teach one how to think by filling his mind with facts and laws of reasoning and logic, and teach another how to write or speak, and the latter will by and by surprise you with the better production, containing undoubtedly the better thoughts. If there is a tendency in the educational system of the present day to devote too great an amount of time and labor to the evolving of thought, and too little to its written and vocal expression, it is due to present and future generations that it be speedily corrected
Elocution (Latin elocutio, from eloqui, to speak out, express or declare; from e, out, and loqui, to speakWebster) is the act of expressing our feelings and ideas. It is the manner of speaking. Our elocution may naturally be good, or it may not. If good, it can be made still better; if poor, it may be made good. He who can speak at all can be taught an improved style. The study of elocution is one in which none can be pronounced perfect. As in penmanship, a proficient may greatly improve by practice; and thousands are content to possess a handwriting next to illegible instead of the neat, elegant hand of which they could easily become master. So thousands are satisfied with a harsh, disagreeable voice, a careless articulation, a monotonous expression and a re• pulsive manner, being poor talkers, worse readers, and no speakers, when by a proper training they might have been fluent conversationalists, expressive readers, and easy (if not eloquent) speakers. How many are content to work with one talent, when they could readily possess five !
Among well-educated persons of taste and refinement how often do we find those to whom a knowledge of elocution would be invaluable, because of its power to set forth their other accomplishments! The first tones of a speaker's voice always convey an idea, favorable or unfavorable, of the speaker himself; and, if the latter, much effort will be required of him to regain the estimation so unwittingly lost. What can be more satisfactory to its possessor than a rich, clear, melodious tone, a distinct, clean-cut articulation, a perfect command of the modulations, and a pleasing style both in voice and manner ! All this is possible to any one who does not possess imperfect vocal organs, and who will assiduously devote himself or herself to the study, believing it to be worthy of all efforts required to obtain a mastery of the art. Thought is divine; its expression is a divine art, and it is worthy of all labor, all culture, all enthusiasm, and all human effort. Your best expression demands your best energies in your best condition. It calls into action the noblest manhood and womanhood. The greater the soul the greater and more effective will be the vocal manifestation.
Then let students and teachers first of all be inspired by the greatness and divinity of their work, and let them labor with all enthusiasm, putting forth every effort for the speedy and certain realization of their desire.
Elocution and Rhetoric.—The study of elocution is a valuable aid to that of rhetoric. The two are inti. mately connected, and the one should always accompany the other. The construction of a sentence implies its expression, and the expression in original discourse always pre-supposes its construction. One follows the other as cause and effect; the rhetorician can frame his sentences with much greater ease and polish if he applies a knowledge of elocution, and the elocutionist can give a more powerful and effective rendering if he build his paragraphs upon strict rhetorical rules. It is advised that all studying elocution combine with this a perfect understanding of rhetoric. Dr. Barber says, “ The art of rhetoric cannot fail to derive assistance from that of elocution; since a careful consideration of the nice relations of thought in written language is constantly necessary to its practice."
The elocutionist should not devote all his talents to the rendition of other authors. He should be inventive, and apply the principles of his art to original composition. No one requires a more thorough knowledge of all subjects than the orator, and, if you aim at oratory as well as elocution, strive to make your education broad and comprehensive.
Division of the Subject. In the study of elocution, or a gradual development of the vocal powers and a knowledge of the underlying principles, the subject naturally separates into two branches, viz., Science and Art, or Theory and Practice. Each of these has four distinct branches, viz., Vocal Culture, Articulation, Expression (or Modulation), and Gesture. Theoretically these should be arrived at in the order given, but practically they should be treated simultaneously.
Voice is produced by breath passing over the vocal cords, which are situated in the larynx, or upper portion of the windpipe. The abdominal muscles act upon the diaphragm, causing the chest cavity to enlarge. A vacuum being formed, the air rushes into the lungs. This air, after performing its office of supporting life, is expelled from the lungs, and, in its escape, it causes the elastic vocal cords to vibrate, producing the tone. When the voice is not in use, these cords lie near the sides of the larynx and do not obstruct the breath, while in speech they are thrown for. ward into the ascending current of air. Thus we see that the organs of voice constitute a wind as well as a stringed instrument.
The Culture of the Voice should be a matter of necessity as well as the training of the mind, or the development of the hand or arm by exercise. The vocal organs become inefficient through disuse, and frequent practice is necessary to give them a readiness in adapting themselves to difticult articulation. By long neglect the tone is impairea, ease of utterance is lost, and the organs become weak. Frequent rigorous practice induces healthy activity, the voice is strengthened, and rendered pure and resonant. Female voices show, in a remarkable degree, the power that may be given them by culture. Shakspeare's lines,
“Her voice was ever soft, Gentle, and low; an excellent thing in woman," may be well in all other matters; but in elocution we like an occasional Parepa Rosa, whose clear notes were distinctly heard above a chorus of several thousand voices at the Boston Peace Jubilee.
The voice should be frequently exercised outside of conversational tones. Employ extremes of force and pitch, full rising and falling slides, musical notes, etc., to give flexibility, strength and compass. Dumb-bells and Indian clubs afford good exercise ; but, unlike vocal practice, they do not enlarge the lungs, but merely the chest cavity.
Correct Breathing is an important factor in elocution, of more consequence than might be supposed. It. should be so timed as not to interfere with speech; breath should be taken in only at the pauses. Study at first never to destroy the connection of the thought by a pause for breathing purposes. In long sentences, we should economize the breath as much as possible. Practice sentences with this in view for the purpose of reserv. ing breath for the strong passages.
But proper breathing should be insisted on for a more important reason. We cannot give best expression without the full exercise of our best powers, and this requires a perfect state of health. Full breathing of pure air insures great lung capacity, vigorous circulation of the blood, and a perfect action of the vital organs. Breath bears to our lungs the fiery oxygen of the air; this is taken into the blood, and, carried by each pulsing artery, builds up and strengthens the entire system.
Practice frequently the vocal exercises found on pages 52–62. The laughing exercise, page 58, will be found valuable. Enter into it with spirit, as a health exercise. The vowel sounds on page 21 may all be used in the same exercise, prefixing “h" to each sound in turn.
Exercise 15, on page 59, should be given with the italicised syllables in a loud, sustained calling voice, high in pitch, as clear and ringing as possible. No better practice can be found for toning the voice or improving its quality. See, however, that it is given in the Simple Pure or Orotund.
In the 16th exercise (page 59) read each line in quotations as directed in the line following, all in the calling voice, with imitative modulation. Prolong the final syllable of each, and let it seem to die away in the distance.
Read exercises 17 and 18 in a simple conversational style, avoiding anything like a “reading tone.” Give the full meaning, and study to be natural.
Read exercise 24 on page 61 rapidly with high pitch, then repeat without a pause with lower pitch, repeat again and again, each time lowering the pitch; then reverse the order, and continue until high pitch is again reached. This exercise may be varied by using low pitch at first, gradually changing to high and back again to low. Take breath only at the pauses, sustain the pitch throughout each repetition, and let the transition at the end be marked.