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Example is the best guide; but private admonition and advice should be used constantly, and a high standard of excellence demanded in the class room. Lear's praise of his dead daughter should be deserved by every one who aspires to her other high qualities.
"Her voice was ever soft, Gentle, and low,—an excellent thing in woman. The different degrees of clearness and sweetness that we hear in different schoolrooms proves that firmness and patience and example may accomplish wonders with the voices of children.*
How One Girl Learned
An anonymous writer in Collier's Weekly (June 6, 1908), tells autobiographically of “The Making of an Actress." A part of her experience is so apropos here that it is quoted in all of its breeziness to conclude this discussion.i
"If he (the star) had six hours for conversation, he could spend it all in talking about the horrible way in which I spoke. Pronunciation, enunciation, accent, inflection, all were marred and jarred. He enumerated a list of words that
interested in that kind of elocution which treats of Elements, tonic and others; Quality; Force; Stress; Melody; Time; Emphasis; et cetera, will find it set forth with copious exercises in the Murdock-Russell “Vocal Culture,” which is founded upon Dr. Rush's “Philosophy of the Human Voice.” It should hardly be necessary for the authors to say that they do not believe such apparatus is valuable in the common school.
† Used by special permission of P. & F. Collier.
he had to endure, rendered in my Pennsylvania style. Everything ending in 'r' was damned, of course. He said I said ʻriver-rrrrrrrr'; one-syllabled words I made two, like their, which I called 'they-er,' and two-syllabled words I made one, like 'very.
“The audience must wonder what language you're speaking,' he said. “It's neither English, nor Dutch, nor Hindu. You'll have to learn to speak your mother-tongue before you'll get on, on the stage.'
"He advised me to practice every day, reading aloud from a book or newspaper, deliberately pronouncing every word carefully by syl-la-bles. I must not say “Uni’ States, but ‘United States, without clipping. Lastly he gave me a list of trick sentences upon which to practice my voice for fluency and accuracy. I remember that list yet. Heaven knows I ought to know them, fter a year's practice in season and out
Here are some of them : “ It was indubitably an abominable eccentricity.'
“ The incomprehensibility of the article, etymologically considered, is evident.'
‘She uttered a sharp, shrill shriek and shrank from the enshrouded shrine.'
“She stood at the gate, welcoming him in.'
"The miserable accompaniment is unnecessary and intolerable.'
“Of course, I had chattered off those Peter Prangle, the prickly, prangly pear-pickerabsurdities, ‘Peter Piper,' and 'She sells sea-shells,' and that sort of thing, often enough in fun when I was a girl. But this was in deadly earnest. Why,
even to pronounce 'tel-e-phone' and 'ev-i-dent properly was no easy task. I read aloud for three hours a day, and I practiced trilling my ‘r’s till my tongue was flexible. Then I studied enunciation, speaking in front of a hand mirror till my lips were as mobile as Margaret Illington's. Have you ever heard her say—no, I mean seen her say: ''Oh, Richard, fan-cy be-ing CHUCKED'? A deaf man in the third gallery could get the words.
“I tried for light and shade and color, to get every word out crisp, to avoid monotony. I studied the weights of words, pauses, and all the different ways of getting an effect over the footlights. I tried to digest every sentence till it was really a part of my thought and emotion."
The story in its continuation tells how this woman succeeded. What she did with her voice anyone under forty years of age and lot deformed in the organs of articulation can do. But it takes work, , long-repeated drill, and unflagging patience.
THE USE OF THE DICTIONARI
The habit of using the dictionary becomes so increasingly valuable as one grows older that it should be fixed early in life. Some teachers advocate dictionary drill with children as early as the end of the third school year; others postpone the time one or two years. In an average school it seems that this work should be undertaken near the beginning of the fourth year, as soon as such phonics as are used in reading are fairly well mastered.
It is unreasonable to suppose that children will learn to use a dictionary either habitually or well without instruction. Indeed, there are many teachers and owners of unabridged dictionaries who do neither. Such instruction as is outlined here can not, of course, be given all at once; it must be dealt out to the children as they need it, each part receiving drill enough to secure accuracy and speed. Some of the suggestions seem exceedingly simple: maybe they are to grown folk; but they have to be given children at some time and in some form.
The First Step In the first place, the children must either have learned in the lower grades or they must be taught now the letters of the alphabet in order, the diacritical markings of letters and their sound, syllabication, and accent. Much has been said—and justlyagainst emphasizing the alphabet in teaching children to read. But in dictionary and similar work there is a need, perhaps the only one in life, for one to know the arbitrary order of the letters. More than being able to repeat the twenty-six symbols rapidly, one should be able to say without pause in what direction, either forward or back, one letter is related to another. He is looking in the dictionary, for instance, for levity, and opens the book at p. Without hesitation he should know that his word lies earlier in the book. Drill, then, both in saying the alphabet straight through and in telling the relation of one letter to others, taking pains that this latter fact may be known without the deiay of repeating orally or mentally any part of the alphabet.
With children an approximation to the proper sound indicated by the various diacritical markings, which must all be known, is all that can be expected or demanded. Not one person in a great many hundred ever attains to anything like accuracy in the matter. It will be helpful for the teacher to study the discussion in the New International Dictionary, pp. xxxviii-lix, and then to give some of the more important results to the older pupils. But unless a teacher become keenly interested in the subject, he would better confine himself to the explanation as