Once class has started, play a popular (but appropriate music video). Parody artists like Weird Al might be a good choice because his content is generally appropriate, but he takes songs that would be familiar to the students. In addition, he uses a lot of expression when he sings.
Step 1: Discussion: Begin the discussion by asking simple evaluations questions like did you like the song? Was this a good or bad music video? Then push the discussion to more analytical questions: was there acting in the music video? Was it good or bad acting? Did it or did it not add to the overall effectiveness of the song?
Step 2: Activity: We’re going to discuss acting for musicals this time and next time; today we’ll just do the beginning steps of an activity that will help us finish up next time. One of the best ways of learning how to act a song is to start with just acting the lyrics. This can be especially difficult to do when the lines rhyme; however, it is possible! Demonstrate each step with the attached example.
Step A: Take your lyrics out, and write a one-sentence synopsis of what the song means. Can you change that statement to a “want” statement. I.E. does the person singing the song want something from the person they are singing to?
Step B: Look over your lyrics and find a 45 second to a 1 minute portion of the song that has a good beginning, middle, and end. For example, if there is a repeating chorus in the song take it out, or if there are obscene or inappropriate parts, take out those.
Step C: Then, divide the section into “moments” or the smallest units of the section. (This activity is adapted from an activity found in Signs of Change by Joan Lazarus page 47)
Step 3: Instruction: Acting, even in a rhyming song, the words can become real when we become aware of what we are saying and how we are saying it. Next class we’ll discuss what we need to do with these words to make them real. Please begin memorizing them. The students will be performing these lyrics like a monologue.. Give the students five to ten minutes to work on memorizing the song.
Step 4: Modeling: Select a few scenes from musicals: “A boy like that” from West Side Story, or “I Could Have Danced All Night” from My Fair Lady where the actress acts the scene well. After each scene is shown, discuss what makes the scene so well acted. Focus, energy, expression, etc. are some possible answers and discussion points.
Step 5: Guided Practice: Pass out the music for the ensemble song. Do a few vocal warm-ups from previous lessons. Take the time to go over any trouble parts. This is a good opportunity to let a student more proficient at music to help their peers. After running over difficult parts, run through the song once, and run through it without music once. The song will need to be memorized and performed.
Step 6: Improv: Any remaining time can be spent playing improv activities. Some beneficial ones:
Once Upon a Time…(tell the story one word at a time)