« ZurückWeiter »
In reading this psalm, if the student find himself delivering it on a high pitch, with metallic ring and rapid rate, the objective treatment orders him to use a lower pitch, to slow rate, full tone, full major slides, and with due observance of the rhythm.
A too exclusive use of the objective treatment is a feature of the old elocution, and runs into the mechanical.
THE LESSER PROBLEM.
The lesser problem before the student is to modify or remove bodily limitations. Obviously, some limitations are only partially, and others not at all removable. It is assumed, however, that the most important organs are modifiable, and that especially their functions may be rendered more full, economic, and accurate. Faulty breathing may be corrected, the chest capacity developed, vocal quality improved, the bearing and movement rendered strong, graceful, and free—in short, all the organs of speech and gesture may be developed, and the channels cleared for the prompt, accurate, and full expression of the mental states.
In exercises for physical and vocal development, the organs, as such, are dealt with. Even in such exercise, however, the feelings and imagination are utilized; and as bodily limitations are oftenest functional, the main and the lesser problems nearly merge into the one problem of disciplining the mind's action. Moreover, in this technical training on special non-expressive exercises for physical and vocal development, from the very beginning, the expressional use of the organs is anticipated.
The principles of Public Speaking can be realized only in use; and to point out the specific excellences and faults of any delivery requires the skill of an experienced practitioner. Hence the teacher becomes a trainer, enabling the pupil to accomplish what, in all probability, he never would accomplish alone.
In the practical pursuit of the subject, the question of individuality, or personality, arises. The method here offered, dealing as it does with general principles, and directing the main effort to realize the thought in the act of delivery, instead of prescribing absolute and arbitrary forms, ought to be a sufficient guarantee that individuality, or personality, will have all the freedom it can reasonably claim.
It is to be conceded that all good speakers do not speak alike. On the other hand, every one needs to remove, as far as possible, vocal and bodily limitations; to suppress glaring mannerisms; to develop versatility and responsiveness to thought and feeling outside of the individual habits. Moods of the individual that impede the realization of the thought and feeling of the subject must be subordinated or practically eliminated, and a broader capacity developed. To mention a specific and marked case, a person of an overserious mood must develop the possibility of other moods. Again, a speaker who conceives an idea merely as fact must also realize it as an emotion.
Development in expressional power is always in the direction of emotional mastery. That which is narrow, accidental, and limited, must give place to the varied and universal. The difference among speakers is attributable to the different ways of realizing the thought, or what amounts to the same thing, the different way the thought affects each emotionally. Take the following sentence for an illustration: –
“All in the valley of death
This may be conceived merely as a fact: there were six hundred men in this charge here described. There may have been a few more or less, or possibly just six hundred. They all without exception rode forward at the command. The enemy were in front, to right and left—a valley; and, as we know, it was death to most of them. Again, this may be conceived as fact that affects the speaker emotionally. The leading emotion may be that of horror at the thought of these soldiers, because of a blunder, marching to almost inevitable death. In this conception the word “all” has more than statistical value. It shows the extent of the doom. “Valley of Death” now takes on a more sombre color. It is not merely a historic fact, but a present reality. Imagination reproduces the scene. The “valley” and “riders,” with “cannon in front,” “to right” and “left,” volleying and thundering, are in sight. Still another conception may arouse feelings of admiration and heroism as we see the splendid discipline and bravery of these men. This conception will emotionally affect all of the subordinate ideas. The words, “all,” “valley of death,” and so all the rest, which have much in common, are changed from the first conception. These, and possibly other conceptions, may be combined. Moreover, in any conception that intends to reproduce the thought of another, the variety of lights and shades and crossings of emotions are almost endless. Again, the character, the culture of the individual, not to mention his peculiarities, will contribute an important element. No two minds reproduce the same thought in the same way. No speaker reproduces his own ideas in the same way. It is just this difference in conception that gives largest opportunity to individuality or personality. Not only mental quality, but the nervous system and physical conditions, are a part of the matter. I have found frequently that some mannerism, which was the result of nervous conditions, or which was capriciously or possibly accidentally adopted, was as tenaciously held to as the most sacred attribute of personality. We must distinguish between peculiarity and personality. Things of habit, good or bad, are dear to us. The student of speaking should be sane. In fact, the nervous state and dominating moods frequently render it impossible for the speaker to fully realize other emotions. To such an one it must be said, “Ye must be born again l’” All, to some extent, need such regeneration. Like all educational growth, it is a process, and hence requires discipline under intelligent direction. Elocution treated on this basis is of the highest value as a means of culture.
In spite, however, of the rational and practical method of treatment, the teacher frequently appears to invade the personality of the speaker; hence, in drill, it will require care on the part of the teacher, and patience on the part of the student.