LESSON 1: Increasing Our Awareness of Body and Breath
Educational Objective: Students will demonstrate an awareness of body and breath in vocal support by participating in self-awareness activities and articulating their experience in a think-pair-share.
Standards: Standard L2.T.R.2: Evaluate responses based on personal experiences when participating in or observing a drama/theatre work.
Materials Needed: a small bell, Freeing the Natural Voice by Kristin Linklater, soft/ meditative music, open space
Hook: Voice Jeopardy
Directions: Class will be divided into two teams. Each team sends one person up to the front of the classroom to face-off their opponent in answering questions about elements of voice and their ability to demonstrate them. Whoever knows the answer to the question will ring the bell between the two opponents. They will get 1 point for correct definition and another point for correct demonstration. The other team has a chance to “challenge” and earn the demonstration point if they demonstrate the element of voice better than their opponent. Each team also has one “phone a friend” per game, in which they can ask their teammates if they know the definition of the term they are being questioned on.
Transition: Now that we have had a bit of a refresher on elements of voice, we are going to go forward by participating in exercises that increase our awareness of our voice as the expressive instrument that it is. The first step to doing that is becoming more aware of how our body functions as we breathe. I am going to guide you through this exercise through verbal prompts (NOTE: play soft, relaxing music as you lead this activity)
Activity: Awareness of Body and Breath (adapted from “Freeing the Natural Voice,” Workday One and Two)
Introduction: It’s not about what we are doing, but HOW we are doing it that is important
Practice: Human Breathing Machine– Our body has mechanisms or different parts to help us breathe, as follows:
Now we are going to create a human breathing machine! We’ll need several volunteers to do this… Have one person stand on a chair– this person will be the brain at the top of the “body” we are putting together. Under the brain will be the nasal cavity/ trachea (the brain will put their hands on the shoulders of the person who is the nasal cavity/ trachea). Then the person who is the nasal cavity will have their arms draped around 2 people who will serve as the ribs. There will also have two more people with their arms stretched in front of the ribs– these people are the intercostal muscles. Have someone kneel on their knees below this group with their arms bent into a downward curve (they are the diaphragm.) Then have a couple of people wiggle slowly and gently below the diaphragm– they are the intestines. Here is the role for each volunteer:
Once everyone knows their roles, we are going to do a few collective breaths as a group (invite those who are not a part of the human breathing machine to breathe together with them as well). After you get the rhythm down with a few breaths, try experimenting with a laugh as opposed to a normal breath, or faster breathing as though you are going on a run. After the activity, reflect on the discussion questions listed in the next section.
Students will have a few moments to ponder their experience in these exercise, guiding their thinking towards asking the following questions:
Students will then have the opportunity to share their thoughts with a partner, and then in a group reflection (think-pair-share).