The cradle of bel canto

Many years ago I worked as a section leader at St. John's United Methodist Church in Kansas City. It was a truly wonderful experience and one of my happy memories from my time there was listening to the children's choir. There was something about those sweet, innocent voices that never failed to pull a tear [...]

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 [...]

Historical Perspectives: Witherspoon’s Thirty-Sixth (and final) Lesson

Lesson 36 Select songs with due regard for your own powers. Do not attempt to sing operatic arias when you are unable to sing an even and perfect scale. Most American singers injure themselves greatly by attempting dramatic music before their voices are developed sufficiently to stand the strain of these dramatic pieces. The first [...]

Historical Perspectives: Witherspoon’s Thirty-Fifth Lesson

Lesson 35 MORE CAUTIONS Do not set the lips in a fixed position. Let them follow the demands of the vowels and consonants. Do not grin, and do not shape the mouth like an Oh or Aw, except when you sing those vowels. Do not show the lower teeth when singing. This is the snarling [...]

Historical Perspectives: Witherspoon’s Thirty-Fourth Lesson

Lesson 34 CAUTIONS AND CURES FOR CERTAIN DEFINITE FAULTS The jaw moves freely for M. It is not necessary to move the jaw for each sound of N and L. It will only retard tongue action, which is necessary and important for pronunciation. The jaw should fall easily at the back or hinge, and never [...]