Raising the bar for theatre educator professional development.

Click to Teach/Click to Learn: Walk a Mile - Sound Design

This lesson is largely based on "Walk a Mile in My Shoes," designed and created by D.K. Goodman for the EdTA Tech Theatre Tool Kit. View the full unit overview created by the author here.

For this assignment, students will be creating a sound design that conveys what it's like to walk a mile in their shoes. The objectives of this assignment are:

  • Self-discovery: Reflect on your history and circumstances to understand who you are and what made you into the person you are today
  • Application: Develop skills in research and successful design by connecting your own circumstances to a sound design
  • Empathy: View the completed projects of others in your class, and embrace empathy by viewing the world through their shoes

Step 1: Get Inspired

Watch the following TEDx talk by actor Okieriete Onaodowan to hear his take on what it means to "walk a mile in someone else's shoes". He shares that in order to embrace empathy and fully step into someone else's shoes, we must first recognize our own "shoes", or our circumstances and viewpoints, and be able to take them off before we can adopt someone else's.

In order to be good designers and actors, we must understand our own motivations and viewpoints, as well as those of the play, the playwright, and the characters within the play. This requires 1) knowledge of ourselves, and 2) knowledge of the material.

During and after your viewing, consider the following questions for reflection:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you represent?
  • What has helped mold you into what you are today?
  • Where will your shoes take you from here?

Step 2: Research and Decorate

In this assignment, you will create a customized shoe design on paper to represent who you are. Later, you will record an aural version of its journey through a day in your life.

The beginning stages of any design requires research. For the first step in your research, reflect on who you are and how you became the person that you are today. Use the following questions for inspiration.

  • When and where were you born?
  • What does your name mean or why was this name chosen for you?
  • Where do you live now? How did you come to live there?
  • Who are your biggest influences? (Parents, Siblings, Extended family, Friends)
  • How have those around you impacted your life?
  • What things you are interested in? What activities do you participate in and why?

Now, create a visual representation of your answers. Using a search engine, search for shoe coloring pages. Be specific - what kind of shoe best represents your style? (Try things like Nike shoe coloring page, high heel shoe coloring page, etc.)

Once you select a template, print it out and begin designing. Use materials such as colors, markers, glitter, hot glue, images, etc. There are no limitations to what you can attach to your shoe. Make it dynamic and colorful, and use the shoe to represent who you are. You are encouraged to integrate any of your insights from your self-reflection into the visual representation of your shoe.

Step 3: Collect Sounds

As a sound designer, it is your job to create a design that helps someone else to experience a day in your shoes. In order to accomplish this, you will be recording sounds that you hear throughout your day as the basis of your design. Seek to answer this question for your audience: "From the moment you wake up, what does a day in your life sound like?"

Use a voice recording feature on your phone to capture sound bytes of the world around you from the time you get up. Think about the small things such as your alarm, the sound of cereal hitting the bowl, etc. You will be creating a voice-over narrative to explain a day in your shoes to your audience, and anything referenced in your dialogue should be heard in the background of your presentation.

Step 4: Edit your Sound Design

You will be using Audacity, a free music editing software to edit your tracks together. The final version should consist of a voice-over narrative and specific sounds showcased throughout to represent the moments and events in your day.

Use the following videos to guide you in your editing.

More videos resources for using Audicity:

How to import audio files into Audacity

How to edit multiple tracks/multiple sound files

Cutting, copying, and pasting sounds

Addressing issues with your Microphone & speaker


Guidelines for your sound design:

  • Should be about 3-5 minutes in length
  • Keep ambient sounds low so they don't over power your words
  • Moments of silence should be used sparingly - overlap sounds so that there is no break in the background.
  • Be Creative! 


Diving Deeper

Want to understand the role of a sound designer?  Women Making Sound Waves looks at all aspects of sound design from the perspective of several women sound designers, read the article from Dramatics.org by clicking on the image below.      


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 What does this article teach you about sound design?   What else do you want to know?

Measuring Learning

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Classroom Connections

Walk a Mile - Sound Design makes a great student lesson to teach remotely in 4-5 class periods. To view the full unit overview by the author in presentation form, click here. This lesson works best for High School Proficient or Accomplished Students, but may be adapted for use by Advanced secondary students by requiring additional work products or even for use by Middle Grades.  

Standards: 

HS Proficient

TH:Cr1.1.I.b.  Explore the impact of technology on design choices in a drama/theatre work.
TH:Pr5.1.I.b.  Use researched technical elements to increase the impact of design for a drama/theatre production.
TH:Cn10.1.I.b.   Investigate how cultural perspectives, community ideas and personal beliefs impact a drama/theatre work.

HS Accomplished

TH:Cr1.1.II.b.  Understand and apply technology to design solutions for a drama/theatre work.
TH:Pr5.1.II.b.  Apply technical elements and research to create a design that communicates the concept of a drama/theatre production.
TH:Cn10.1.II.a.  Choose and interpret a drama/theatre work to reflect or question personal beliefs.


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