Today’s random blog posting is on the subject of enunciation.
Each of us has no difficulty thinking of teachers and mentors who made a big difference for us. Some day maybe I will make the time to put words to the page to thank most of the teachers and mentors who made a big difference for me in my own life. Today I will mention one of them — Byron Thompson, my vocal music teacher in junior high school, who among other things taught a generation of students to enunciate when singing. Mr. Thompson would run us through diction exercises as we worked to speak our vowels and consonants. What seemed exaggerated to us as we sang was, of course, not exaggerated at all by the time it reached the audience who might be on the other side of a large performance space.
And to this day, when I stand at a lectern addressing a group of people, if I manage to speak clearly for the group, it is almost entirely because of the enunciation and diction lessons of Mr. Thompson. Decades have passed and even now I follow heavily ingrained habits of what might seem to be exaggerated enunciation. But the result is that my words are hopefully clearly heard even across a large room.
Which brings me to Freddie Mercury, the iconic singer and songwriter who is the subject of a recently released biopic. He sang a song “You’re My Best Friend” which came out in 1975. I enjoyed that song immensely, and one of the things that always stuck with me was that Freddie enunciated the “k” of “make” so very well. You can hear the “k” enunciated so well in this clip that the one-syllable word “make” almost gets expanded into two syllables.
More than four decades have passed and still his perfectly enunciated “k” in this song sticks in my memory as clearly as it did in 1975.
In your formative years, did someone teach you to enunciate clearly? If so, please post a comment below.