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To attain the vocal requisites of good reading, the voice must be constantly subjected to gymnastic exercises, and its powers developed by elementary training
The daily practice of the vocal artist is not upon tunes to thrill an audience, but upon the scales and exercises designed to develop and maintain purity, strength, and compass of voice.
When thousands hung in breathless ecstasy on the magic tones of a Jenny Lind, little dreamed they of the hours and years of incessant toil to produce and control such powers - toil, where each day's exercise was but a repetition of the preceding, so intense, that it is no wonder even her devotion and enthusiasm sometimes faltered.
Many, gifted in intellect, and of superior cultivation, have deeply felt the power of Shakspeare's mighty mind; but how few, like a Kemble, have so cultivated the vocal powers that they could convey those emotions of the goal, in all their grandeur and thrilling beauty, to another's heart.
Mighty, that the human mind can so portray the passions of the human soul, that the wise and the ignorant may equally recognize the picture! Mightier, that the human voice can so personify them, that the learned and the unlearned will stand in breathless waiting, to see them start from the canvas!
Few messengers of the Bible, pleading the great truths of divine wisdom and love, ever vinced the intellect and moved the heart as Whitefield. Yet the best that has come down to us from him, will but ill compare with the written sermons of our preachers of to-day. By the vocal power of eloquence he overcame the determined will of Franklin, and led captive even his judgment.
Knowledge may be power; but the human voice, trained by art, is the lever by which this power must be applied to move the great living masses.
Purity of tone and exact pronunciation are the most essential vocal requisites of good reading.
The pupil, then, must be subjected to a con tinued drill in suitable exercises upon the vowels to give him purity of tone, and upon the consonants and their combinations to give him a correct and distinct articulation.
Such exercises are found in the preceding Readers of this series, especially in the Gradual Reader; and the learner is now supposed to be somewhat proficient in their utterance.
Still, to retain facility and grace of utterance, these exercises should never be laid aside during his school days; therefore they have been published without the reading lessons, that every pupil may have them by him for daily drill.
With this reference of articulation to the other Readers, a few examples will here be given, for drilling the pupil in the correct utterance of only unaccented elements and combinations, which are liable to imperfect or wrong pronunciation.
EXERCISES IN ARTICULATION.
1. Ant, ants, ance. These unaccented syllables are mispronounced, as if the yowel element were short u. The vowel a should retain its fourth sound, like a in hat, though it should be given feebly and obscurely. Let the a be given pure in the following exainples, but be very careful not to overdo, so as to make the pronunciation stiff and awkward.
Tyrants, constant, constantly, instant, instantly, abundant, abundantly, abundance, utterance, important, importance, descendants, vigilance, verdant, constancy, instance, vigilantly, verdancy, currants.
'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view
2. Ent, ents, ence. These syllables, when not under accent, instead of the nat ural sound of short e, given feebly and obscurely, are often uttered as if written with short u. Avoid this error with the same precaution as in Exercise 1.
Commencement, argument, present, presents, independent, independently, independence, different, differently, difference, vehement, vehemence, sentence, reference, imprudent, imprudence, astonishment, magnificent, magnificence, confidence, cadence, current, enjoyments.
Truth is the basis of all excellence.
3. Er as in her. Unaccented er is liable to be pronounced as if written úh whereas it should have the sound of er in her, though more feebly uttered.
Ever, never, every, governor, govern, government, several, modern, general, generally, sovereign, yonder, sisters, matter, liberty, summer, better, numbers, misery, power, mightier, utterly, poverty, waters, covering, fingers.
The smooth stream in smoother numbers flows.
4. Ing. Unaccented ing is mispronounced in ; thus, running is mis called runnin. The ing should have its ringing sound, as ir the word sing. Be careful not to overdo, and thus transpose the accent.
Flashing, stunning, burning, evening, laying, arming, planning, meaning, reasoning, understanding, shivering, lightning
Twilight is weeping o'er the pensive rose.
the muse's painting.
5. Kts, Its, mts, nts, sts. The element t, preceded by l, m, n, p, s, or the sound of k, and followed by the sound of s, is improperly dropped. Thus acts is mispronounced ax; faults is miscalled false. Great care must be taken to sound t before the s.
Affects, afflicts, facts, effects, conflicts, defects, insects, wilts, hilts, melts, welts, belts, wants, aunts, tents, presents, descendants, enjoyments, joints, viaducts, tempts, prompts, attempts, precepts, adepts, wastes, mists, lists, lasts, hastes, tastes, repasts.
Coming events cast their shadows before.