“More volume, Sasha, more volume!!” How many times have you found yourself shouting this from the audience when rehearsing with your young actors? If you’re like me, MANY TIMES. By far one of the biggest challenges when rehearsing with kids is getting them to speak loud enough for the audience to hear. It’s not natural to speak in a “stage voice”, so it takes practice and a lot reminding. Below are 5 fun and effective ways to get your young actors to keep their vocal energy up!
1. Utilize Blocking. If a scene allows for it, consider staging kids a little farther apart if they have a dialogue exchange. Often if kids are right next to each other they’ll automatically resort to their normal “talking to a friend” voice. However if they’re farther apart on stage, their natural inclination will be to speak louder. This is particularly effective if you have a hero/villain conflict.
2. Arden the Ant. I often rehearse in an auditorium where there is almost always a clock high up on the far back wall. I like to invent an imaginary character, Arden the Ant, who lives up on the that clock and has the tiniest ears. Arden LOVES stories, and so badly wants to enjoy the play. Make sure you speak loud enough so that Arden can hear! Do it for Arden! (No clock? Try an exit sign, a school banner, etc.)
3. Imitation. Imitation is sometimes a quick and easy way to help a kid understand what it feels like to speak at a loud volume. Tell the actor to copy exactly how you say the line. First say it in a normal, quiet voice (the actor repeats). Then say it in a super loud projecting voice (the actor repeats). Tell the actor to remember that energy, that’s what every line should feel like.
4. Student Volume Test. Ask an actor who isn’t in a scene to sit in the back row of the auditorium. Tell him his role is the “volume tester”. Every so often say “freeze” during rehearsal, turn towards the kids in the back row and say “volume test”. The kid will either put thumbs up or thumbs down, depending on whether he could hear the lines. Adjust accordingly. (Another option is to have a full rehearsal where you tell all the actors if you’re not in a scene, you should sit in the back row of the audience. After rehearsal have them reflect on what they thought about the volume. This will help them understand WHY it’s so important to speak loudly.)
5. High Energy Warm-Up. Before a performance, it’s important that kids are in a high-energy mindset. As close to the curtain time as you can, lead a warm-up that gets them pumped up vocally and physically. Practice making dramatic expressions and lead an ensemble building high-energy call and response. Do you have other techniques you have found to be effective? Would love to hear it, leave a comment below! Written by Denver Casado — Looking for more creative drama ideas? Check out our refreshing collection of new musicals for kids to perform.
9 thoughts on “5 Ways to Help Your Kids Project Their Voice on Stage”
Any drama teaching/acting training ideas always good to receive.
We play a game called “This Is My Stage Voice.” Before playing the game we discuss the difference between a stage voice and shouting: shouting sounds ugly and hurts your voice, a stage voice doesn’t hurt your voice and sounds GOOD! Then we play the game:
First we put finger on lips and softly say, “This is my quiet voice, but…” and then hold up muscle arms and project loudly, “THIS IS MY STAGE VOICE!” Then we hold arms as if rocking a baby, and say, “This is my baby’s sleeping voice, but…” make muscle arms and project loudly, “THIS IS MY STAGE VOICE!” Repeat with holding hands like a book and “This is my library voice, but…”, scribble frantically with a pencil and “This is my taking a test voice, but…” and my students’ favorite– hold hand on forehead and say “This is Miss Shauna has a headache, but…”
Thanks for all the other great ideas!
Thanks for the great suggestion, Shauna!
This is GREAT! WOW! THANK YOU!
We’ve got our voices down in numbers, with 1 being a stage whisper, 2 is below normal. 3 is our normal voice. 4 is good but 5 is the best stage voice ever! Children tend to be able to relate to this numbering rather than go with :louder!
Thank you this does really help out
To practice at home, tell kids to go to the farthest place away from their mom, dad, sister, grandma, etc and say their lines.
( the front of the house to the back door,
Can your relative hear you?
Are you shouting?
This is a super way to memorize lines also.
Unless your school, am dram group or whatever is very well endowed, chances are that your performing space is difficult to access until close to the performance (it’s used for sports, exams, assembly or whatever). But use whatever means you can to get into it so that the children associate performing with a big and slightly unfamiliar space rather than their normal – possibly small – classroom.
I have one child go out of the room and say a nonsense sentence behind the closed door that the others in the room have to repeat.
With younger kids I have the child give directions to the others through the closed door. Exp: Hop on one foot 12 times. Flap your arms like a turkey. Laugh like crazy, etc.