Here are given drills that should be practiced by beginners in muscular movement a few minutes at the beginning of each writing period during several weeks, or until the movement becomes light and elastic and a fair measure of control has been acquired.
A movement drill is a repeated form, and it may be a letter or a part of a letter, but it should be so simple in construction and susceptible of such case in execution that the mind is relieved from the tedium of constantly dwelling upon the forms, and can be given to movement study.
In number 1 the movement used is in the direction of the capital O, and in order to make the oval very compact all strokes should be very light. One method used in making very compact ovals, is to first carry the ovals across the page with somewhat open spacing and go over the same path again and again, until all white paper disappears. Through this process the fiber of the paper is not picked up by the point of the pen, and the final result is much more pleasing than it otherwise could be.
In number 1 not less than 185 downward strokes should be made in a minute, and the same rate of speed should be applied in number 2.
In developing light, uniform motion in class penmanship practice, counting is an important factor. It makes the work more interesting than it would otherwise be, tones down the movement of the naturally nervous pupils, acts as a constant spur to the habitually slow boy or girl, and keeps the indolent student busy. In the oval exercises given in drill 1 the downward strokes only should be counted. The other parts of the drill being what are termed connective lines are not counted. In the traced ovals, drill 2, the count should be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 for each completed oval.
Read the following carefully until thoroughly understood. It is of especial value to beginners. Before making the oval drill or attempting any part of it, move the pen in the air and move it rapidly over the path of the oval a number of times. While doing this, watch closely the movement of the muscles of the arm, studying the motion and its application. While the pen is moving rapidly, and without checking its motion, let it strike the paper. The force thus gathered will compel light, quick action, will break up flinger motion, will give smooth lines, and will aid form building.
CAUTION.Before attempting the large oval drill, be sure that all the conditions are favorable. Not much can be accomplished unless the rules in regard to position of body, arm, wrist and fingers are closely observed. Reread the beginning lesson if necessary. Do not waste time by attempting to do something you do not understand. Work intelligently, and satisfactory results are sure to follow.
The author's constant admonition to beginners is to give more attention to the action of the muscles of the arm on the start than to the forms; overcome muscular rigidity; make muscular relaxation a habit; experiment frequently in movement practice with nothing in the hand or without touching the pen to the paper. In a word, gain muscular freedom and muscular control and the mastery of the form of the letters will be easy, and a good permanent style of rapid writing will be the outcome.
Drill 3 is what we term a forcing movement drill, and it is one of the best for the beginner to practice.
In the direct traced oval make six revolutions in a count of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, lifting the pen on the base line on the sixth count without checking the motion, swinging it in the air to the beginning stroke of capital A. Thus the student will be forced from a slow, lagging movement to a motion that is elastic and rapid. The form may not be entirely satisfactory at first, but it will improve rapidly if this process is continued a reasonable length of time and repeated at frequent intervals.
The rate of speed should be about twenty complete traced ovals and as many capitals to the minute.
The propelling power is located behind the elbow. Do not forget this, and do not think of the energy and force as coming from the hand, fingers or wrist.
Following the plan suggested in connection with drill 3, the rotary motion should be applied in drill 4 below, the pen being in motion when striking the paper and in motion when leaving it. From seventy-five to eighty-five good capital A's should be made to the minute.
AN IMPORTANT SUGGESTION. Hold the practice paper in position with the left hand and always keep the paper in about the same relative position to the right arm. Move the paper from right to left and from left to right with the left hand, as may be required to keep the paper in good position.
The method of practice in drill 5 should be the same as in capital A, drill 3. After each traced oval lift the pen while in motion, swinging it below the base line and around to the beginning point of the capital O without checking the motion. Drive the pen rapidly, and bring the muscles of the arm into active play. First make ten revolutions for the traced oval, gradually decreasing the number to six; count six for the ovals and count two for each capital O.
Not less than seventy of this form of capital O should be made in a minute.
This capital O is very popular with many excellent business penmen and teachers of modern writing. Study the letter and make a mental photograph of it. Note particularly the curves of the left and right sides, also the loop at the top, its general direction and its size.
The plan of practice for drill 7 is the same as for drill 3 and 5.
Lift the pen from the paper while in motion in finishing a capital; continue the motion with the pen in the air and bring the pen to the paper to begin the next capitalall without checking the motion. Make about seventy letters to the minute.
So far in the lessons the direct oval and some of its applications have been almost exclusively given as drills. In the connected small o just as much freedom of motion is necessary, but its operation should be in almost a straight line toward the right, thus developing the application of lateral movement used in such small letters as m, n, o, u, w.
The small o drill above should be practiced a few minutes every day during at least the first three months of a course in muscular movement writing. It can be made a very interesting drill.
In connection with this drill we urge teachers who have never tried the plan to use what we might term a conversational count. Walk about the room in time to the count of the letter, and in passing from desk to desk criticize the work being done by students in the same rhythm. Supposing that passing down an aisle one student is making the o too large, another is not closing it at the top, another is using a slow, dragging movement, another is making a narrow, flat letter, and still another is bending over the desk too far, the criticisms would be as follows: Make 'em smaller, make 'em smaller; close 'em up, close 'em up; slide along, slide along; round 'em out, round 'em out; sit up, sit up. Each criticism or admonition may be repeated until the error has in a measure been corrected. The influence will not be lost upon the rest of the pupils, but those who have been making the same errors will, almost unconsciously, show a marked improvement. Home students who are endeavoring to master a good style of writing without the aid of a teacher may use the same plan in counting as they practice.
Make page after page of the connected small o. Keep it up until you can make, with an easy, sliding movement, and nearly as well as the copy, more than one hundred to the minute. That is by no means fast, but while permitting good form it is fast enough to force light movement.
To save paper, the small o may be made on the lines, between the lines, and across the lines. The plan of writing across the lines is greatly to be commended and encouraged as tending to develop lightness and freedom of movement.