The arts fulfill a human need to express and transform life experience symbolically. This leads to the development of artistic expression in all societies. Regardless of their vocation or lifestyle, students need to understand and participate in arts experiences.
The hardest part of getting students to concentrate is helping them learn how to focus their thoughts in the right direction for a long enough period of time to accomplish the desired effect of each character’s personality. Once students have learned to do this they can create an atmosphere which will be enhancing to the actors and the audience.
Lesson 1 Body Movement
Warm up exercises are to help prepare students for acting by doing some play acting, acting out a favorite story, acting out a song, or a small part of a movie. Acting skills involve the use of the body and the voice, and the refining of observation skills.
Give students a hand-out of a dotted half note and a dotted quarter note, or draw the notes on the board so that they may be seen by all students.
Discuss the characteristics of the dotted half note and the dotted quarter note: A dotted half note receives three musical beats, has a hollow ball for the base, and a stem on the right side; A dotted quarter note receives one and a half beats, has a filled in black ball for the base, and a stem on the right side.
Have students learn the note value of the dotted half note (three beats) and the dotted quarter note (one and a half beats). Have them clap the beats and count them out.
This next activity will help students become more flexible in the use of their body while applying the knowledge of the dotted half note and the dotted quarter note. One of the best ways to relax is to practice becoming free with body movements to music. Here are some suggestions for good selections of music for movement.
Debussy, La Mer
Stravinsky, Firebird Suite
Saint-Saens, Carnival of the Animals
Strauss, 2001: Space Odyssey
Moussorgsdy, Pictures at an Exhibition
Greg, Peer Gynt Suite
Tchaikovsky, The Nutcraker Suite or Sleeping Beauty
Wagner, Ride of the Valkyries
Bach, Fugue No. 2 in C Minor.
Begin by having students imagine that they are holding a beach ball. How big is it? How soft or firm is it? Feel its texture. Imagine its weight. Now toss it up in the air and catch it. Toss it higher and higher each time. This time toss it and let it drop to the ground. Does it bounce? If you are playing with someone else, play catch with the beach ball. Throw it gently and then throw it hard. Keep in mind its weight.
Now that students are familiar with the dotted half note and the dotted quarter note and their imaginary beach ball, play a musical selection. Have students bounce the imaginary ball on various beats.
Have students pair with each other and toss the imaginary ball back and forth on various beats of the music.
Lesson 2 Observation
This activity will help students to develop their understanding of diverse peoples and cultures. To understand and value the arts of a particular culture is to understand and value the people of that culture. Students will understand that when they act they become someone else other than themselves. A skill that will help them improve their ability to be someone else is observation. Good actors learn to observe others and perfect their mannerisms.
In order to have students learn more about people’s behavior and mannerisms, have them spend time watching others to see how they react in various situations. Have them observe their facial expressions, the way they use their hands, the way they walk, how they hold their heads, how they stand. Notice their reactions to the events around them. Have them observe people in public places. Watch how they greet other people, laugh, respond to animals, comb their hair, etc. Have them notice what different people do when they pass mirrors or big glass windows. Have students demonstrate their findings.
Have students choose a partner, and face each other. Choose one person as the leader, and the other must mimic the actions of the leader just as though he is looking into a mirror. Movements should be slow and simple, and the follower should be very precise in imitations.
Now have students move freely to the beat of a music selection while mirroring with a partner.
Have one person start an action and repeat the movement over and over. A second person adds an action coordinating it with the first person. A third person should join in with an action coordinated with one of the people already involved. Continue to add a on people until everyone becomes a part of the machine.
Have students create sounds while coordinating actions with the other parts of the machine.
Using Your Voice
Have students imitate the voice of someone they know or someone famous. Place emphasis on their pronunciation, their speed, and their rhythm of speech. This activity will give practice in training the voice and trying out a variety of voices different from their own.
To help students understand the difference in one tone of voice and another, teach them to sing music syllables Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do. Showing the syllables written on a poster or the black board will help students to focus on the difference in each tone.
Have students pair with a partner and read aloud from a magazine or book. Have one person read a sentence. Have the other one try to repeat the sentence in exactly the same way. Emphasize the use of the same pronunciation and same loudness. Try out different voices, styles, and accents.
Lesson 3 Touching, Hearing, and Seeing
Students will be ready to begin the experience of learning to use the dramatic talents that they have not yet discovered. You can help to get students’ creative juices flowing with the help of Pamela Prince Walker’s
Seven Steps to Creative Children’s Dramatics
. The exercises will enhance the student’s dramatic talent as well as teaching the principles of acting. Students should focus attention on staying in character using the five senses. These activities will help students to enhance stage presence, demonstrate emotions, movements, and actions, evolve the character’s personality, achieve color of character’s personality. Acting games such as Status, The Story Game, and The Broomstick Game will be used to reinforce the learned skills and techniques. and must follow each exercise. The exercises have been proven successful in bringing forth the best creative efforts of the group. By the end of the lessons, children will be making up scenes with ease and using their imaginations with assurance.
Students will learn to concentrate using the five senses. First have students concentrate on a real object which will allow them to touch and physically feel the objects that they choose to focus on. But then when using imaginary objects the exercise will become a real challenge.
Students will experience physical activity or physical business on-stage by acting out scenes such as playing the piano with a broken finger, reciting a poem with a bad cough, carrying a heavy load of schoolbooks with a sore back, or waiting for a bus in very cold weather. Say a student usually clears the table quickly before mother serves desert. Have a student show how the dishes will be stacked and gently placed in the sink, or show that because of the rush to get back to the table the stack of dishes get smashed along the way.
The emotional states will be brought up by using tone color to describe anger, happiness, sadness, etc. Through this students will learn to color their character’s personality just as they would a portrait of the character. Students will demonstrate and act out fear, irritation, anger, excitement, anticipation, boredom, love, appreciation, and sympathy to various music selections that suggest each emotional state.
This lesson will help students become familiar with the senses through the use of rhythm band instruments. Place rhythm band instruments on a table in front of students. Name and demonstrate each one. For example: While showing a tambourine, five the name, emphasize the shape, and discuss the moveable parts. Be sure to demonstrate the proper way to play each instrument. Blindfold students and place a rhythm band instrument in front of them on the desk. Have students touch the instruments and describe the shape and parts.
Now have students name the instrument. Remove blindfold and have students feel the shape and parts again. Ask them to demonstrate how each instrument is to be played.
This time have students imagine they are holding the same instrument as they had in the beginning of the lesson. Have them describe how the instrument would feel if they were actually holding it. Now have them demonstrate how the imaginary instrument would be played.
The following exercise is an extension of teaching students to become aware of their ability to express themselves through imaginary items. Do this exercise slowly, allowing time between one image and another. Ask questions to encourage further imagining. Stress the importance of concentrating during each exercise.
Have students imagine the following: Pick a rose and smell it and feel it. Suggest that they prick their finger on a thorn. Lift the top off a garbage pail. Smell an apple pie cooking in the oven. Smell a cow barn. Gas being put in a car.
Have students imagine they are tasting . . . Ice cream, a spoonful of milk of magnesia or cod liver oil, taffy candy, a lemon, coca-cola.