Students will demonstrate their ability to use projection and diction in speaking by creating a tongue twister and teaching it to the class.
Have the students move their desks and get into a circle. Ask them what else is important for their puppets besides being able to manipulate it. Answer: the voice.
Step 1: Tell them as an actor, their voice is one of their most important tools. Memorizing Shakespeare does an actor no good if they can’t say the line and communicate to an audience. Tell the students that an important aspect of the actor’s voice is to project. This is why vocal warm ups before performance is preferred. Let them know that in this lesson they will be participating in vocal warm-ups.
Step 2: Ask the students what one of the most important parts of using one’s voice is. Answer: using the diaphragm. Ask if anyone can describe the diaphragm and what it does. Answer: it is a muscle under the lungs that controls our breathing. Tell them that speaking from the diaphragm will make their vocal power stronger. Have the students take in a deep breath. Tell them to make sure their stomach, not their shoulders or chest, is moving. Tell them it’s okay to feel silly; it’s kind of like being Santa Claus, but instead of belly of jelly, it’s air. Have them say “Ha!” several times to feel where the diaphragm is. Their stomach should move with each “Ha.” Have them inhale and then continue saying “Ha ha ha ha ha” until they run out of air.
Step 3: Ask them what happens if an actor is loud, but s/he mumbles? What else does an actor need to do/use? Answer: Pronunciation, enunciation, diction, etc. Tell them that this is to warm up the other vocal tools, the places of articulation. Have them massage their jaw and face with their hands. Then do Lion and Mouse. For Lion, have students open their mouths wide, also open their eyes wide as if the whole face is stretching open. Then, for Mouse have them squinch their faces close and tight as if all their facial features are being pulled in to the nose. Mouth will pucker, eyes should close tight, even forehead muscles should squint close. Have them repeat opening wide and closing shut tight.
Step 4: Teach them the warm up: “The teeth, the lips, the tip of the tongue, the tip of the tongue, the teeth, the lips.” Make sure they enunciate, or even over enunciate each consonant.
Step 5: Review Peter Piper with the students. Have them feel their diaphragm throughout. Continue through any number of tongue twisters. (These tongue twister have a repetition of sounds.) Go through each slowly, one fragment at a time and then repeat all together. Suggestions:
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of picked peppers, Peter Piper picked. Now, if Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
Billy Button bought a bunch of beautiful bananas. A bunch of beautiful bananas, Billy Button bought. If Billy Button bought a bunch of beautiful bananas, where’s the bunch of beautiful bananas Billy Button bought?
Catherine Crosby kept some cuddly kittens in her closet. (And so on)
Mamy Miller made some marvelous marmalade.
Theophiles Thistle, the successful thistle sifter, in sifting a sieve full of unsifted thistles thrust three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb.
Step 6: Have the students get with a partner and create a tongue twister at least 10 words long. Have them move the desks back into place and give them 5-10 minutes to prepare. Go around the classroom and offer assistance as necessary. For example, if students are at a loss, give them a sound to work with such as “m.”
Step 7: Have the students return to their seats, even if their partner was sitting at a different table. Starting one table at a time, have the students get up with their partner and present their tongue twister. They should stand at one end of the classroom with the teacher at the end. Remind them they are to project and use diction when speaking. After presenting it once, have them teach it to the class by reciting one fragment at a time and the class repeating it.
Have the students write their names on their tongue twisters and turn them in.
As the students present their tongue twisters, take general notes on their projection and diction.