Historical Perspectives: Witherspoon’s Twenty-Seventh Lesson

Lesson 27

You should now develop your voice in rapid exercises so as to gain in facility, flexibility, and eventually in ornamentation.

Exercises 6, 19, 23, 24, 27, 29, 30, 31 may be used for this purpose. Sing them carefully at first in moderate speed, and gradually increase both the speed and the number of times you sing the exercises on one breath.

No fast exercise is of benefit if it results in a blurred musical figure. Each tone must be distinct, yet not separated from its neighbors. It is of no use to attempt rapid tempo without due practise. You cannot hurry the development of facility.

Exercises 35 and 42 may be added when you feel that you can sing running scales and the previous exercises with real skill.

Remember that the exercises given at the back of this book should be your medium for practice all your life. There are no better exercises for the singing voice. (Ed. I will include a link to the full list of Witherspoon’s exercises at the conclusion of this blog series. JP)

Do not practise carelessly as regards your ear. Listen to yourself with keenness but without strain or worry. Your ear will develop rapidly, and you will finally hear every little imperfection in tone quality, vowel sound, pitch, evenness of execution, and clarity of musical figure.

Also sing the exercises in perfect rhythm, using the rhythmic accent so as to make the musical figures clear and distinct.

If the accents are wrong the whole figure will be wrong and the voice will not “RUN” freely.

Select a good exercise in your book of “Masterpieces of Vocalization” which will apply what you are learning in facility.


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