Historical Perspectives: Witherspoon’s Twenty-Ninth Lesson

Lesson 29

Take exercises 42, 35, 36.

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In singing these longer and more rapid scales be sure to prepare the voice by singing the easier “WARMING UP” exercises first, until the voice feels free and resonant. No one can sing rapid scales with a “COLD” voice.

Many things may be advantageously observed during scale practise.

First of all, be sure that you return to the starting note of a scale in the same position vocally, with the same vowel sound and the same quality of tone. Or, if there is any change, let it be for the better; and this may readily happen, as the correct singing of the upper tones will often “HOLD THE VOICE UP” so to speak, tending to preserve more over-tone resonance on the lower tones as you come back to them.

For this reason the practise of descending scales is of great value, for all voices, because it prevents singing too “OPEN,” and keeps the lower tones as sonorous and resonant as the upper middle which is generally the best part of the range of all voices at the beginning.

Some singers find great difficulty in singing rapid scales in ascending, others in descending.

It is difficult to “get off” or leave the first tone. This is quite common, and is really nothing but awkwardness. At the start we are simply clumsy. Practise and patience will conquer this awkwardness, and you will soon sing rapid scales and other figures with clearness and exactness. But it may take many days of perseverance, so do not lose courage.

This part of the practice is of the utmost importance. It not only develops agility and evenness of range, but it also develops more actual power, freedom, clearness, emission of tone, correct vowel modification, and real style.

The following songs will aid you in putting into use what you learn from rapid scales:

Soprano, Nymphs and Shepherds…Purcell

Alto, Come and Trip It…Mary Carmichael

Tenor, Vittoria, Vittoria (in English)…Carissimi

Bass, Within These Sacred Dwellings (Magic Flute)…Mozart

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

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