Sustaining perfectly the reservoir of air is the greatest desideratum
in using the voice. Acquiring ability to do so is a puzzle often to
students. The reason is in the fact that no muscles which are directly
under the control of the will can be caused to act upon the air column.
The chief organ of respiration is the diaphragm, and as years of
teaching bring experience which is definite in results, we find that the
hragm is the only muscle which holds the air column in check. That
muscle situated within the body cannot be held by any visible power. The
thought of holding it still will make us hold our breath. Trying to
assist such holding by muscles of the chest, abdomen or throat, only
defeats our purpose and makes the diaphragm give way. That large muscle
will do the whole work if we will let it. The thought, as said above, is
what will make it remain quiet. That thought may take various forms.
What assists one does not appeal to another. But here is an assisting
thought which does much good to the majority of students. Of course when
the breath is taken the diaphragm is down and the waist is spread. Then
the chest, bronchial tubes, windpipe and mouth are full of air. Now
allow that air to be as still as the air of the room. Practise
sustaining tone with any vowel, preceding each effort by taking position
suggested above, and with the thought of keeping the air in the body
just the same as, and a part of, the outer air. Then allow tone to float
in the air, permitting no force whatever.