Historical Perspectives: Witherspoon’s Twenty-Fourth Lesson

Lesson 24


Develop your powers of sustaining longer phrases by practising exercises already sung, repeating the figures more times than given in the printed exercise.

Use exercises 1 to 19, repeating the figure as many times as you can without exhaustion of breath.

Never sing an exercise until the breath is all gone, but always have enough breath left to be able to finish the tone without a gasp or grunt, and also to be able to preserve your bodily poise.

Make haste slowly in developing your powers of endurance in breath action and duration. Be sure the tone does not lose because you want to sing too long a passage in one breath.

You will notice that nearly all of the exercises may be used for this added development of breath duration.

As your powers increase you may attempt to sing exercises 49 and 50.

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If you have trouble singing the long scales which take you to higher and higher notes, raise the arms in the gesture of appeal, palms up, as in the breathing exercises, as you ascend the scale. This will help preserve the correct use of the breath and vocal freedom, and the head tones will come much more easily.

Exercise No. 24 may be used to great advantage singing the last figure over and over again as many times as you can without exhausting the breath. Little by little you will be able to add more repetitions of the figures sung, perhaps increasing the number by one more each three or four days, until you reach a reasonable limit.

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Song for this lesson is “Leave Me to Languish” – Handel

Be sure to get the songs in the key which suits your vocal range.

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

One thought on “Historical Perspectives: Witherspoon’s Twenty-Fourth Lesson

  1. I think that it is very interesting that this lesson is called “Extension of Breath” but the means used to extend the breath is singing, not torso mechanics. No “how to expand” or “where to put it” or “breathe into your ___”.

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