Song Performance - Level 1
In this level, you will have the opportunity to dive deep into a song performance by thinking about the language and the character. The final challenge will be to apply it all to a performance of your song.
On your journey to tackle the Final Challenge and complete the Level, you will need to earn 1 Power Up and gain 3 Experience Points along the way.
In this level, you will:
- Gain Experience by analyzing the text of the song
- Gain Experience by exploring the objective and motivation of the character
- Power Up by memorizing the song and identifying moments to breathe
- Gain Experience by practicing movement and making physical choices
- Take on the Final Challenge by putting it all together and performing the piece
This Level Up Challenge is based on a unit designed and developed by student Thespians.
GAIN EXPERIENCE: Analyze the Text
Before you begin this challenge, pick a song from a musical that you will be working with and would like to perform. It can be a piece that you are working on for a show, for a class, for an audition, or just a song that you love and want to practice.
For this first activity, we are going to separate the lyrics from the music, and you are just going to practice the text without music as if it were a monologue. You will want to try to forget the rhythm of the song, and speak it in a natural rhythm as if you were delivering a monologue.
The first step in any performance is to know your text, including who, what, when, where, and most importantly why. Songs exist in musical theatre for a reason, usually to move things forward or to signify a change in character.
TO GAIN EXPERIENCE: Print out the lyrics to the song, and answer these questions:
- Who is your character?
- What is happening in the song?
- Where is this taking place?
- When is this taking place?
- Why is this song important?
Then, read "Speaking the Song" by Michael Mohammed on dramatics.org, and think about how each of the items in the "Text-Based Analysis" section apply to your song. Make notes about any discoveries you make about the text.
Now, with lyric sheet and notes in front of you, recite the lyrics as if they were monologue. Remember, try to ignore the rhythm of the song and use a natural rhythm, just like a monologue.
GAIN EXPERIENCE: What's Your Objective?
Now that you've analyzed the text and language of the song, there is one more step before we put the lyrics back together with the music. For this activity, you will explore the objective and the audience for the song.
First, think about who you are singing to. Is there another character that is in the scene? Is your character singing to themselves? To the show audience? Be specific - it is important to know who you are singing to.
Next, think about why you are singing to this person/audience. What do need from them? What are you trying to achieve with this song? What emotion was your character feeling at the beginning that was so strong, that they needed to start the song? Does this emotion change throughout the song?
TO GAIN EXPERIENCE: Revisit "Speaking the Song" by Michael Mohammed on dramatics.org, and think about how each of the items in the "Psychophysical Methods" section apply to your song. Be sure to identify the objective, emotions, and audience for your song. Make sure you really understand your character, who they are singing to, and why they need to sing this song.
It may be helpful to break your song into beats, and identify a need and/or emotion for each beat. For example, in one section of the song, the character may feel confused and may need to think out loud, but then later in the song they make a decision and start to feel confident.
POWER UP: Memorize and Breathe
Now that you've analyzed the text and gained a greater understanding of the character through speaking the lyrics as a monologue, it's time to put your lyrics back with the music.
To perform a song, knowing the song is a must. Learn your song and make sure you have the tune and lyrics memorized. One thing to be careful of is where you breathe. Take a look at your lyrics and mark down your breath points.
TO POWER UP: Make sure you have your song memorized. Focus on when you will breathe, especially within phrases, and be sure to mark those spots in your music. Memorize those spots as well so that you can be intentional about your breath within sentences or phrases of the song.
GAIN EXPERIENCE: Incorporate Some Movement
Now, it's time to incorporate some physical action into your song performance. First, revisit your text analysis and think about what kind of character you are playing. How do they move?
It may be helpful to return to the beats that you marked in your text, and think about movement/blocking that aligns with your characters needs and emotions. If there is a change or shift for the character within the song, you may want to incorporate some sort of movement or change in your physicality to show that change.
TO GAIN EXPERIENCE: Make some choices about how you will incorporate movement, blocking, and changes in physicality into your song performance. Practice them, and see what feels natural and what makes sense for the character and song.
FINAL CHALLENGE: Apply it Your Performance
During this journey, you powered up by memorizing your song and deciding when you will breathe. You also gained experience by analyzing the text, discovering character objective and emotion, and addition some movement. Now, using the power up and experience points you gained along the way, you are ready take on the final challenge: putting it all together and performing your piece.
TO COMPLETE THE FINAL CHALLENGE: Using everything you've discovered during this challenge, perform the song for a friend, family member, classmate or learning buddy. Or, you can video record yourself performing it. Feel free to choose a costume and incorporate a few props if you think that will help tell the story of the song during your performance.
After you perform, get some feedback from your audience, or do a self-evaluation of the recording. Could you understand the story of the song? Was it clear who you were singing to, and what you wanted from them? Did you breath sound natural, and did your movement choices help to visually tell the story of the song?
Continue practicing and make changes based on the feedback you received if you want to. You did it!
PREPARE FOR THE NEXT CHALLENGE
Are you preparing a song for a virtual audition? Take on the challenge of recording yourself performing by clicking on the button below and checking out FILMING AN AUDITION: LEVEL 1.
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