Page images






Correct management of the breath is of first importance to the student of elocution. When the voice is not in use breathe exclusively through the nose so that the air may be warmed and purified before reaching the lungs. This habit will, in large measure, obviate the disagreeable effects of dry mouth and sore throat, so common to public speakers. Practise as much as possible in the open air. Be enthusiastic and in earnest.

It is now generally conceded that the abdominal method is the natural and correct way to breathe. In inhalation the abdominal wall moves outward, the diaphragm contracts and descends, while the lungs resting upon the latter are expanded to their fullest capacity. In exhalation the reverse movement takes place. To inflate the chest and draw in the abdomen is to breathe wrongly.

The correct position for practising the exercises is as follows: Stand easily erect, chest active, shoulders equal height, chin level, one foot slightly in advance of the other, heels at an angle of forty-five degrees, knees straight, weight of the body on the toes, arms a dead weight at sides.

BREATHING EXERCISES 1. Gentle abdominal breathing. Inhale through the nose gently and slowly, expanding first the abdomen, then the chest, filling the entire breathing capacity. Exhale quietly and evenly until these parts are wholly contracted. Repeat, inhaling and exhaling through the mouth.

2. Sipping and packing the air. Slowly sip the air until the normal capacity is filled, then increase the expansion by firmly packing in more air. Exhale slowly on aspirated ah (the sound of a in father). The exhalation should be deep, smooth and sustained as long as possible.

3. Nostril breathing. Gently close the right nostril with the thumb of the right hand. Inhale slowly and deeply through the left nostril until the capacity is filled, then change the thumb to the left nostril and exhale slowly through the right nostril until the breath is exhausted. Then with the thumb still closing the left nostril, inhale and repeat.

4. Holding the breath. Inhale deeply. Hold the breath while mentally counting five. Exhale slowly. Increase the count to ten, fifteen, etc. Stop at the first sign of dizziness.

5. Muscular expansion. Inhale deeply. Hold the breath and expand the lungs with a muscular effort. Exhale slowly. Again inhale and force the air down into the lungs. Also move the chest up and down, keeping the air in the lungs all the time.

6. Counting in a whisper. Inhale deeply. Count one to fifty in a loud whisper, in tens.

7. Whispering continued. Inhale deeply. Count in a projected whisper to fifty, one at a time, completely exhausting the air upon each figure.

8. Raising the hands above the head. Clasp the hands and while inhaling deeply raise them slowly above the head, endeavoring to reach as high as possible without raising the heels from the floor. Exhale while the arms gently fall to the sides.

9. Raising the shoulders. Inhale deeply. Clench the hands at sides and while holding the breath, slowly but firmly raise the shoulders up and down five times. Exhale slowly and smoothly.

10. Instantaneous breathing. Inhale instantaneously, deeply and fully. Exhale instantaneously.

11. Rapid breathing. Inhale fully and deeply. Breathe rapidly through the nostrils as in panting. Exhale slowly through the mouth. Rest and repeat.

12. Lying down. Practise the foregoing exercises lying flat on the back, without the use of a pillow.


1. The arms. Relax the arms at sides. While inhaling, slowly raise the arms above the head with as little tension as possible. Hold the breath, make the arms tense and reach as high as possible with the hands, hold a few seconds, then relax and exhale as the arms slowly descend.

2. The hands. Repeat, clasping the hands above the head and swaying from side to side.

3. Walking. Relax the entire body and walk in imitation of intoxication.

4. The body. With head and neck thoroughly relaxed, shake the body vigorously.

5. The breath. While inhaling, raise the arms to horizontal position, then hold the breath and stretch as far as possible.

6. The feet. With weight on forward foot, the backward foot lightly touching the floor, slowly raise one arm while inhaling deeply and reach out as far as possible. Relax and reverse.

« PreviousContinue »