Vocal Characteristics

Lesson 2: Vocal Characteristics

Length: 70 min.

Objective:Students will demonstrate an understanding of vocal characteristics and their application to character by teaching and modeling characteristics in preparation for analyzing a live performance ‘s use of characteristics in its creation of character.

Levels of Understanding:

Interpret, explain

National Standards:

TH:Pr5.1.7.a. Participate in a variety of acting exercises and techniques that can be applied in a rehearsal or drama/theatre performance.

Materials Needed:

Pieces of paper in a bag saying “Audibility, tone, pitch, inflection, rate, force, and articulation”

Precut sections of the Vocal Characteristics handout.

Copies of Vocal Characteristics handout for each student

Tongue Twister handout for each student.


Gather the students in a big circle. Have them sit on the floor and play the game “telephone.” Before and after playing, help them understand the game’s connection to diction.

A fun variation is to have multiple phrases being circulated at the same time. This is like when multiple actors speak onstage at the same time.

Step 1:

Have the class get into seven groups. Hand each group a cut section of the Vocal Characteristics with their term. The groups will have ten minutes to ask the teacher questions about their term and practice the exercise. Each group will then give a six-minute presentation in which they teach the rest of the class about the term, covering the information on the section and leading them through the exercise.

Step 2:

The class will again gather in the circle. Walk the class through rolling the spine up, relaxing the shoulders and neck, then push air out with the diaphragm. Have the students shake any nerves of presenting out.

Step 3:

The teacher will then have well-behaved students draw the slips of paper out. A slip is drawn and that group presents. Another slip is drawn and the next group follows. The process continues until all characteristics have been taught and practiced.

Step 4:

The teacher will then tell a story with the class (such as Spencer Duncan’s Mrs. Walker and the Lizard Man: A Southern Riff of that Ol’ Turnip Tale) any selection they like, as long as the story is orally told and incorporates different character voices and vocal characteristics.

As the students listen to the story, have them note what characteristics are used and how they are used. At the end of the story, the students will share their thoughts.

Step 5:

Pass out the tongue twister papers and a copy of the Vocal Characteristics page to each student. Tell the class they should keep their vocal characteristics for future use in class and at these tongue twisters will help them with projection. Next time, there will be a tongue twister battle and they will begin to design their puppets. If there is time at the end of class, students can begin practicing the tongue their twisters.