Vocal Levels and All’s Well That Ends Well


Students will demonstrate all 10 vocal volume levels by rehearsing Shakespearian lines and writing vocal levels into their scripts.


Materials Needed:

– Shakespeare monologue scripts for each student.
– Line of Shakespeare written on board (Julius Caesar)
– Play synopsis of All’s Well That Ends Well


Homework Check: (5 minutes)

Have all the students hold up their first folio and check off that they have it. While we will not actually be using the first folio today, it is necessary for next time. Only students who brought it today will get full points, but students who did not bring it today will not be behind if they bring it next time.


Play Synopsis Day #1: All’s Well That Ends Well (30 minutes)

Tell students that every day for the rest of the unit, we will be starting class with a 30 minute synopsis/story of one of Shakespeare’s plays from each of his four categories. Pay close attention and take notes on the characters in the shows as there will be a QUIZ on the material at the end of the unit. Every day, the first person to raise their hand AFTER I ask for a volunteer will get to come up to the board and draw stick figures or whatever artistic skill level they have to sketch the story as I say it.


Discussion: (15 minutes)

What makes this play a comedy?
Some people are mixed on this play and think it should be categorized as a problem play. Why?
What does this play have to do with your lives right now?


Hook: (5 minutes)

Start speaking in a whisper instructing students to get in a circle from tallest to shortest. Keep repeating yourself until all the students have heard and are following the instruction.


Practice: (5 minutes)

Tell the students that you will give them a word to say and they will be in charge of getting the word around the circle slowly increasing in volume. This means you need to be just a little bit louder than the person before you. Say just as the height slowly increases, the first word will start with the smallest person speaking very quietly and grow to the tallest person speaking at the highest volume.
Words to use: hello and peace
Repeat the exercise a second time with the tallest person being the quietest and the shortest person being the loudest.


Discussion: (5 minutes)

How did you all respond to the way the instructions were given?
Was it easy to be just a little bit louder than the person before you? Why or why not?
How did the volume of the word you spoke affect the meaning of it?


Instruction: (3 minutes)

Tell students that within speaking, we have a very wide range of volume that we can use safely. We are going to mark this range in 1-10, one being the quietest you can manage (with still annunciating) and 10 being the loudest you can produce without damaging your vocal cords. Discuss with students the idea of breathing through your diaphragm and keeping tension out of your throat. Depending on the volume you use on each word, it can vary the meaning of the word.


Practice/Presentation: (10 minutes)

We are now going to split up into groups of three. Each group is going to assign a vocal level to each word in the phrase I am going to give you. Try to make it interesting and give it a cool definition based on the vocal levels you use. This is a phrase Helena says in her opening soliloquy talking about Bertram. When it’s time to come back and present, I will count down from 10, by 1 everyone needs to be quietly standing in a circle with their group clumped around them. You are going to present your phrase IN UNISON so make sure everyone in the group knows and agrees upon the different vocal levels you will use on each word.
Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie, which we ascribe to heaven.”


Discussion: (5 minutes)

Draw a scale on the board 1-10, write death above it.
What are different meanings that the word love can have if it’s voiced at the different levels? (Get at least four different definitions/scenarios).


Practice: (10 minutes)

Once students appear to have understood the concept of volume affecting meaning, give students the remainder of class to individually start assigning vocal levels to their monologues. A vocal level 1-10 should be decided for every word in the monologue. Remember it needs to flow so don’t go crazy with vocal levels, but every vocal level on every word should be a conscious choice. It’s okay to bracket 3 or 4 words together that might have the same vocal level before there is a significant change. Just as students showed their first folios at the beginning of class today, next time they will show their completed vocal levels right at the start of class.


Remember to bring your first folio to class next time!!! IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT. YOU CAN’T PARTICIPATE IN CLASS EFFECTIVELY UNLESS YOU HAVE IT.



Due at the beginning of next class is a check on all of your vocal levels written onto your script.

All’s Well That Ends Well Synopsis