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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by
H. O. APTHORP,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, in and for
PRINTED BY SMITH & PETERS,
It is not necessary, at this late day, to speak of the importance of learning to read.
That this department of education suffers general neglect, seems also to be conceded. But he that shall be successful in discovering the best mode of teaching this elegant Art, will deserve to be accounted a benefactor to his race.
The teacher of this branch has difficulties to encounter which do not appear to beset the path of those who undertake the instruction of pupils in other departments of learning; the most serious of these difficulties, however, do not show themselves in that department which I have chosen to constitute the FIRST PART of my system of instruction; although it is certain that these difficulties are not only diminished, but in a great measure disappear under that thorough and rigid training of the voice which the pupil should undergo before he reaches the SECOND PART.
They disappear, in part, without being made a subject
of his attention, and at a period of his progress when it would be difficult to make him understand what they
The way is prepared for their removal. It is prepared by the mechanical discipline which the voice undergoes during the training of the FIRST PART, to encounter the task which would otherwise have seemed so formidable.
It is true that carelessness of pronunciation, incorrect utterance, hurried and imperfect articulation, and general misuse of the physical organ of voice, are the faults which first meet the ear, and stand out prominent among the defects of common speech and bad reading; and these are indeed the vices which must be attacked at the outset; the reforming of which must engage the teacher from the very commencement of his instructions.
But the reform of these defects does not present so difficult a problem to solve as the subject of INTONATION, which follows. ARTICULATION is indeed the first essential, the foundation indispensable for anything like a tolerable style of reading: but where there is no natural impediment or physical imperfection in the organs, this may usually be taught, and later graces of pronunciation likewise, without insuperable difficulty, and without unusual powers. But I am constrained to acknowledge that great imperfection exists in the common modes of teaching the inflections or slides of voice (as they are sometimes called), in regulating the pitch and melody of sentences, and that difficulties occur which do not attach to other subjects, or to other branches of this department in education.
I. The first part of this book consists chiefly in a
series of exercises for the mechanical training of the voice. These exercises are progressive, and the method is strictly inductive throughout; a thorough command of each successive stage of progress being requisite to prepare the pupil advantageously to enter upon the
It is obvious that the puerile and tedious character of these exercises must render them the least interesting or agreeable part of this beautiful study; but they are not the less important on this account; and if asked at this late stage of my experience as a teacher, what particular part I esteem of the most vital importance in making a reader, I should be compelled to admit, nay, should most emphatically declare, "this FIRST PART."
The essential element of fine reading, the necessary basis of excellence, must be a perfectly correct, clear, and distinct Articulation. To this subject, then, is the first portion of this book devoted; the training of the voice and ear to the correct utterance and the nice discrimination of sound. No one can enter upon the study of this branch without discovering, at a very early stage of his progress, that Vocal Gymnastics, or exercises for exploding, must be the means of discipline for the voice. All teachers have agreed upon this, and have prepared exercises for the purpose, whether constituted of connected language in sentences, or of the elementary sounds, and syllables made up of these sounds. Such practice has been emphatically enjoined by the most distinguished and able masters. Professors Thelwell and Barber regarded it as indispensable. Dr. Comstock has constructed exercises involving all the elements of speech, which are admirably arranged in syllables and
imaginary words, and has used them with great success in developing and bringing out the voice.
To this species of exercises I have given the preference over all others, for the same reason that pupils in music are required to practise upon written exercises or "êtudes," which are likewise progressive to the extent of involving all possible successions, at least such as are likely to be encountered in the common course of musical composition. In the same way and for the same reason the various syllabic combinations and sequences of our very difficult language must be practised by themselves; and thus the organs become accustomed to each, so that no syllable will be likely to be mispronounced when occurring in literature, in whatsoever position it may be found.
Pronunciation is of course a prominent subject of study and practice taught in the first division, or that we are now speaking of. As soon as any teacher undertakes this branch, he is at once necessarily driven to consider language under its elementary form, and he therefore resolves it into those ultimate elements, so to speak, from which it seems to have been formed.
Philologists differ a little in regard to the number of these; but they are usually said to be about forty. No one counts more than forty-three, and I believe none less than thirty seven. Out of the largest number, several may be regarded as being made up of two sounds; and if so, are not strictly entitled to the name of elements. But, as it is not necessary or useful for practical purposes to resolve the acknowledged elements still further, we give them this name, with perhaps equal