« VorigeDoorgaan »
The speaker cannot depend upon taking a deep breath, using it until it is all expended and then stopping for another, for this stop may occur in the midst of an important phrase or even between the syllables of a word. He must be able so to manage his breath that he can take it quickly at the natural pauses in speech, and conserve it in such a way that it will be given out gradually and never all at once. This necessitates complete control of the muscles that govern the inhaling and exhaling processes. This control can best be understood by examining the different methods that may be employed in breathing. As has already been pointed out, more air is needed for purposes of speech than for ordinary breathing; so, in order that the lungs may have additional room in which to expand, it becomes necessary to secure an expansion of the walls which surround the lungs. This expansion may be accomplished in three different ways.
Clavicular, or upper-chest, breathing. First, expansion may be gained by what is known as the "clavicular," or collar-bone, method of breathing. In this method there is an attempt to gain the additional space for the expansion of the lungs by the action of the upper chest, practically unaided by the muscles farther down. This is accomplished by raising the breastbone upward and outward and lifting the whole upper structure of the trunk. The result is that the upper ribs, together with the weight of the collar bone, the chest muscles, and the arms, must be raised with each breath. As the chest is cone-shaped, this attempt to gain expansion at its smallest point requires unnatural effort. This method of breathing may be easily observed in individuals who lift the shoulders
and upper chest in taking a deep breath and who experience fatigue with the slightest exertion, such as rapid walking or climbing a flight of stairs. People who employ this method have no reserve power either for speaking or for normal activities. The breath comes short and quick and appears to be entirely expended before a new breath is taken. This lack of breath support is not always apparent in ordinary conversation, but is readily observed when the necessity for more sustained utterance makes a reserve power of breath essential. It is very common with persons who are accustomed to wearing tight clothing about the waist. The lower ribs and abdominal muscles become cramped and unaccustomed to expand and contract in their natural way, and the whole breathing process is improperly forced into the small apex of the chest. The result is an insufficient supply of breath for purposes of speaking and frequently permanent injury to the health.
This type of breathing is very often due to carelessness with one's carriage. The person stands or walks in a slovenly manner, the shoulders droop, the chest is caved in, the normal breathing muscles of the lower trunk become inactive, and upper-chest breathing is the result.
One of the worst cases of this kind that have come to my attention was that of a student who had lived on the farm and had been accustomed to an abundance of fresh air and wholesome exercise. Yet his method of breathing was so poor that when he attempted to speak from the platform his tone was little more than a whisper. The voice was extremely husky and the breath short and labored. On examination it was found that there was
no physical defect other than that of letting the chest fall in and allowing the shoulders to become stooped through carelessness. Upon being advised to stand erect and to practice the use of a few simple exercises in deep breathing, the student made rapid improvement in vocalization.
The speaker, above all others, should avoid lax habits of this kind. The chest should be held high, the head erect, and the correct breathing muscles employed at all times. One cannot hope to employ proper methods while speaking in public if the habits of everyday life are lax and careless.
The upper-chest method is to be thoroughly condemned, since it is harmful in its general effects. Not only is it inadequate and exhausting for purposes of speech but it usually affects the quality of the voice in some unpleasant way, such as making it breathy, harsh, or throaty.
Costal, or rib, breathing. The second method of breathing, commonly known as "costal," or rib, breathing, is a lifting of the lower ribs by means of the intercostal (interrib) muscles. Unlike the upper ribs the lower ones are not attached to the breastbone and therefore are free to move outward, giving greater opportunity for the expansion of the lungs. Also, the upper ribs are covered with a heavy layer of muscles and fat, which renders them rather inflexible, while the lower ones bear a less weight of tissue and move outward much more readily. The intercostal muscles exert a strong leverage upon these free lower ribs, and by their action the ribs are lifted upward and outward, giving a lateral expansion to this part of the chest much greater than is possible higher
up, where the surrounding ribs are firmly attached to the spine and to the breastbone. This method of breathing is less exhausting than that of lifting the shoulders, and yet it is not altogether satisfactory, inasmuch as it consists chiefly in the action of the intercostal muscles and brings into play only a part of the organs that should be employed in the breathing process. It is only as it is used in conjunction with the third method that it becomes effective.
Abdominal, or central, breathing. The third method of breathing, known as "abdominal," or central, breathing, is the most effective, since it consists of action not around the lungs, as in the costal or clavicular method, but directly underneath, where the greatest power is capable of being exerted. When the lungs are to be filled with air, the most natural way to make room for their expansion is by the lowering of the flexible diaphragm underneath. As this muscle contracts it comes down from its arched position, thus giving considerable room above for the expansion of the lungs, while at the same time it pushes the viscera downward and outward, causing a marked expansion of the front wall of the abdomen. It is this particular action that is a sure indication of whether or not a person's breathing method is correct. By taking a deep breath, with one hand resting on the upper chest and the other just below the breastbone, it is easy to detect whether one is using the right breathing method.
Correct breathing for voice production. The action of the diaphragm and of the abdominal muscles is usually accompanied by the costal expansion of the second method, whereby the lower ribs are lifted and the breastbone
is thrust outward, causing a general enlargement of the chest and affording the freest possible expansion of the lungs. This action is the most natural and is accomplished with the least amount of friction, and consequently the least expenditure of energy, of any of the methods that may be employed in breathing. There is no strained or forced movement of the parts, as in upperchest breathing. The organs all tend to move in the line of the least resistance, giving the greatest freedom and at the same time the greatest power and control possible for purposes of speech.
The exact nature of the breathing process. The breathing process, commonly known as respiration, consists of two acts inspiration and expiration. In the abdominal method of breathing the diaphragm presses downward against the viscera, and the abdomen is distended by an entirely active process; that is, the diaphragm being a very strong and tough muscle has the power of contracting vigorously, thus serving as the motor force in the act of inspiration. Then when once the lungs have been filled and the air begins to pass from them, the pressure against the surrounding organs is released, and the diaphragm, abdomen, and lower ribs fall back to their natural position without muscular effort. This constitutes the act of expiration and, unlike inspiration, is a passive process. It is the speaker's knowledge and use of these two processes that determine more than anything else the effective use of his breath in voice production.
Function of tidal and complemental air. The air usually taken into the lungs with a single breath is called tidal air, and for the purpose of supplying the body