Historical Perspectives: Witherspoon’s Eleventh Lesson

Lesson 11

Further study of legato singing. Legato means smooth singing, each note being sounded clearly, distinctly and separately; yet all of them joined together, so to speak, all on a line of easy flowing sound.

Now sing five notes with the syllables:


Listen to the difference in sound. NAH will feel higher in resonance and placement; LAH will feel more forward in the mouth; MAH will feel more out, more emitted.

Now follow with the scale in the easy part of the voice on the vowel AH. If the AH does not feel comfortable use the syllables again, then whisper the AH several times, until you feel just where the AH is pronounced, then sing the scale again.

If you find real difficulty, limit your practice to shorter scales, of two, three, four or five notes.

This lesson may be used for several lessons with great advantage.

If you still find difficulty singing the AH, if it is too dark or too white and “open” etc., you may have to resort to the phonetics which free the palate and causal the larynx to remain in its normal place.

These phonetics would be HM, lips closed; HUNG mouth open: MAH, NAH, MING, song on five notes up and down until the voice feels more forward. Then return to the AH and after several trials you will get a new concept of the AH vowel. AH is not pronounced back in the mouth or pharynx.

Exercises 4, 5, 6, 7, 13.

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Witherspoon, Herbert. Thirty-Six Lessons in Singing for Teacher and Student. Meissner Institute of Music. Chicago. 1930.