Historical Perspectives: Witherspoon’s Final Words

I cannot leave you without making a very important plea and one which is very near my own heart.

In America we have developed too much of the utilitarian idea in education. We have lost sight of “culture” in the desire to attain material success.

Therefore we forget too often that the arts contribute to our happiness and enjoyment by stimulating in us an appreciation of the finer phases of our own natures which cannot be measured in terms of money.

Music in the home brings members of the family into closer sympathy and understanding because it makes them experience an emotional uplift which is the very essence of love and tolerance.

There is no music like the music we make for ourselves, because we are expressing our very selves. We should have more music “HOME-MADE.”

So practise singing, learn to be a good singer, not for professional purposes only, but because you love to sing and because your family and friends will get much pleasure and uplift from hearing you sing. It will develop your own nature, your powers of expression, and it will also improve your speaking voice, giving you the ability to converse clearly and beautifully and as gentle-folk should talk. A beautiful speaking voice is a wonderful asset to every man and woman, just as is an attractive personality.

The eye is the “mirror of the soul,” but the voice is the medium of culture, kindness and politeness, all three contained in what we call courtesy. The latter is a great factor in our daily lives and the courteous man of woman has a charm as valuable as any gift of brain or talent.


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

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