How to speak - PDF book by Adelaide Patterson

How to speak; exercises in voice culture and articulation, with illustrative poems 

How to speak
How to speak 

A speaker's success depends largely upon his ability to make himself heard, and upon the flexibility and quality of his voice. It might be supposed that a thorough understanding of the purpose of the subject matter, the sympathy and interest involved, and an earnest desire to give it to others would produce these results; and it is true that a conscious effort to make the voice radiate is back of all successful oral expression. 

One has only to go to clubs, teachers' institutes and other public gatherings to find that the average speaker is seldom heard distinctly beyond the first few rows of seats if the hall is large. He talks at rather than to the audience, with no apparent recognition of the space he must cover; and the people, instead of concentrating their attention upon what he is saying, have to strain every nerve in order to hear. If such a speaker would take the pains to look at his audience he could see this agony of effort in the tense expressions of the faces before him. 

The air is fairly bristling with unspoken questions, and those who are not vitally interested in the subject finally give up in despair and begin to think or even to talk of something else. But even the most earnest desire to be heard is often ineffective because of handicaps originating in lack of breath, contraction of the throat muscles, poor articulation, and incorrect pronunciation and placing of the speech sounds; therefore some education relating to the correction of these faults is necessary. The purpose of the work outlined here is to develop the voice as a means of expression. 

The procedure is almost identical to that followed by any teacher of singing. The average speaking voice is seldom raised above medium E-flat, and usually cannot go lower than two octaves below that pitch; so, while our object is to establish the singing quality in the speaking voice, much of the drill comes upon the middle and lower tones. But some of the best authorities on the development of the speaking voice believe that a speaker should not think of his range is limited and that he may add richness and variety to the ordinary low conversational tones by working upward in his practice to the highest pitch he can possibly reach.

Most of the excellent books on Voice Culture which have been published deal with the subject from the viewpoint of the singer. Our aim is to improve the speaking voice; therefore the emphasis is put on that side of the matter.

 In all the discussions and exercises relating to articulation work, the necessity for the right mental attitude of the speaker toward his audience has been stressed. The obligation to make himself heard, and real sympathy with the audience, should be felt by everyone, whether he is speaking hi a large hall, a schoolroom or a drawing-room; and the majority of teachers recognize the im- portance of combining this feeling of responsibility with the mechanical drills. 

The foundation for the work outlined here is built, mainly, upon the technical courses at Emer- son College of Oratory in Boston; and the writer's experience in platform reading and teaching in grade work, as well as in teachers' college classes, has proved the value of the practice involved. This book has been written in response to the request of many teachers in the public schools for a definite outline of work to develop the correct use of the voice and distinct articulation. 

It shows the logical order of the drills used every day in the Public Speaking classroom at the Rhode Island College of Education. Its simplicity makes it practical as a textbook for use in the grammar grades,; as well as in high schools and colleges. The poems were chosen to illustrate the exercises are! peculiarly fitted for drill upon the points one wishes to emphasize in each case. Many of them express strong emotion and are intended to arouse feeling in the speaker, a measure which helps to develop the desired quality and strength in the voice. 

While some of them are better for adults, most of them are appropriate for use in the four upper grades in school. Many would do for any one of these grades; but where classification is. advisable, their order helps, the simpler ones for the fifth and sixth grades coming first in each group.

The term Voice Culture is generally construed to mean a special line of training for a favoured few who are gifted with the power to sing. Many people do not realize that the same training that im- proves singing would be beneficial to all voices. The fact that one speaks infinitely more often than he sings ought to prove the need of extending vocal training beyond the narrow bounds within which it is usually limited. 

Author:Adelaide Patterson
Publication Date: 1922 
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