Historical Perspectives: Witherspoon’s Eighteenth Lesson

Lesson 18

This lesson will give you your first song.

I believe all Americans should sing as much as possible in English (Ed: Yes!!!). But Italian is an excellent medium for acquiring freedom of voice because the vowels are pure and the consonants short and clear. But do not sing foreign languages like a parrot (Ed. Another YES!). Either study them so that you can understand them thoroughly, speak them, and know their nuances and inflections, or else let them alone. No one can sing in foreign languages unless he understands them (Ed. Can I get an amen?). Therefore, sing in your own tongue.

English is a beautiful and singable language. It should be our song medium.

One more caution: DO NOT SING TRASHY SONGS. Sing good music, of which there is so much, and make yourself a fine musician.

Sing the song you select in the tempo marked. Pronounce the words with care before singing them. Sing the song first on AH or LAH. Then sing the song with the words, in a natural, unaffected manner.

If you sing flat, sing a few exercises with NAH or MAH or ME or MING. Sing the song again. Learn it by heart as soon as you can. Develop the habit of memorizing all you sing.

The following pieces will not only interest you as mediums for expression but they will also aid you in your technique.

On Wings of Song, Soprano in A flat – Mendelssohn (Ed. “Auf Flugeln des Gesanges”)

I Love Thee, Mezzo-Soprano and Alto in E flat – Beethoven (Ed. “Ich liebe dich”)

Who is Sylvia, Tenor in G – Schubert (Ed. “An Sylvia”)

Who is Sylvia, Baritone in F – Schubert (Ed. “An Sylvia”)

Phosphorescence, Bass in F – (Carl) Loewe

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






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