“Every person with a superior voice is a capitalist. There is always a ready market for this talent, be it as a speaker or singer”
– Eugene Feuchtinger
Exercises to Lesson 1
To those who have studied an instrument, such as a piano, violin or any wind instrument, will remember that the most important thing is to obtain a clear, full, rich tone from the instrument, and that this tone depends upon the touch, bowing or embouchure of the player. No matter how good the instrument upon which you play, the best tone can only be attained when all the conditions of stroke, bowing or embouchure are exactly and instantly filled. A good artist can make even a poor instrument sound fairly good, but a bungler will get only a poor tone from even the best instrument obtainable.
The human voice is by far the finest and noblest of all instruments. But just for this reason, it is more easily misused and abused than any other. The beginning of a vocal sound is called the “vocal attack.” All previous methods have failed entirely in this respect. None of them have come anywhere near locating the exact point of vocal attack.
Some have taught that the attack was a certain contraction of the diaphragm; some claim that the abdomen must be pushed outward while attacking a tone; others claim the abdomen must be drawn inward. Again, it has been taught that the attack is in the chest; or that it is in the larynx, that the vocal chords close the air passage before the tone; that the attack must be made through the palate, or by means of pressing the tongue tip against the teeth.
The reason why so many persons with naturally good voices do not develop them further, or, worst of all, ruin them, is mainly this, that, not knowing the exact attack, they abuse their voices, just as a pianist playing with stiff fingers, hands and arms could never make any great progress and would finally even lose what technique he had by nature. A supple, flexible condition of the voice organ is absolutely necessary for the free emission of a tone, and this supple, flexible condition can only be obtained when the right attack has be attained.
“THE VOCAL ATTACK”
When an experienced and trained pianist strikes the keys on the piano, it is call the “piano touch” and the real artist is known by this “touch.” In the violin, the “bowing” is the deciding factor of the tone. In the wind instruments this is called the “embouchure.”
By knowing the exact way to obtain the best possible tone with the least effort or loss of motion, the instrument player reveals himself either as an artist or inferior amateur.
Likewise, the speaker and, still more, the singer is known as an artist or otherwise through the quality of his/her tone. In the voice this is call the “vocal attack.”
When the entire vocal organism or, in other words, the vocal instrument operates together instantaneously, without friction, without waste or hesitancy, so that the tone pours out of the mouth in delicious waves of tone, then the vocal attack is perfect.
But when there is hesitation, any hardness, any huskiness or admixture of breath with the voice, then the vocal attack is inferior or poor in direct proportion to the obstructions which caused the poor attack.
The vocal attack is made entirely through the action of the tongue, or, more exactly, through the instantaneous and automatic contractions of the “Hyo-Glossus Muscle,” which connects the tongue with the larynx below and the palate above it. Much will be said about this muscle in the course of these lessons. For the present it is sufficient to know that it is this muscle especially which is the keystone to the vocal organ, hence our study must in the very beginning start with this muscle. It is in very truth the key which will open the door for your vocal success.
Your entire success depends first upon learning to control this muscle, secondly upon training and strengthening the same.
The student must be told in the very beginning that it is difficult, sometimes VERY difficult, to gain control and final mastery over this muscle. Lasting and permanent results in voice culture, as in anything else, can be had only at the cost of thought, concentration and persistent effort. Once you have overcome these initial difficulties, your future progress is assured and made easy.
The first, second and the sixth lesson are in reality the only difficult lessons in the entire course; once these are completely mastered, the other lessons will seem easy.