19 May Tips for getting performance ready
Preparing for a drama performance or exam is about so much more than simply learning lines and picking a fun costume. If you know us at all, you will know we LOVE a good costume! But how can you help your child be ‘performance ready’ in a way that’s both fun and that ensures they get the most out of the experience? Whether we are preparing for Speech and Drama exams, concert performances, or a presentation at school (or work), there are a few things to consider when practising at home.
Flex Those Drama Muscles
We all know that a performance piece, whether a poem or song or piece of prose, needs to be learned and rehearsed in preparation for the big day. But did you know that it’s just as important to practise warm-up routines? Before learning lines or practising movement and blocking (stage directions), it’s important to always start with warm-up exercises for both the voice and the body. These warm-ups require practise and repetition in the same way that athletes or dancers train and do practise drills to get match fit.
When training for a game, athletes start each session by warming up their muscles in order to perform at their best, and ensure that they don’t sustain an injury. It’s no different with Speech & Drama. Growing vocal strength and good breathing technique is all about muscle memory, just like going to the gym. And just like going to the gym, if we fail to warm up correctly, we can run the risk of causing injury to the muscles we engage for voice production.
Repetition is Key
It’s not enough to simply warm up once before the big show. As with any physical skill, repetition is key. It’s only through regular practise, or ‘drama drills’ that we can gradually build the muscles and techniques we need to be performance ready.
Warm Up exercises to get performance ready
Below are some great warm ups that can be done at home as part of regular practise.
Rubber Chickens is a fast speech and drama warm up that can be equally as fun at home as it is in a drama class. Standing up tall, explain that you are going to hold your right hand out and shake it eight times while counting, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 out loud. Repeat this with your left hand. Then right leg and left leg. Then we start again with the right hand, counting only up to 7 for the next round. Then 6, then 5, until you get to 1, 1, 1, 1. At this point everyone jumps in the air, flops forward and wriggles about shouting ‘Rubber Chicken!’ As you get better at the game, the faster you can go. You can even try counting backwards for an extra challenge! The aim is to build energy and warm up the body and the voice at the same time.
Mouth House is a fun way to warm up the articulators. Imagining that the inside of our mouth is a house in need of a good clean, we use our tongue to clean the roof of the house (our hard palate), the walls (our inner cheeks), top windows (top teeth), bottom windows (bottom teeth). This really gets our tongue working, meaning we are less likely to get tongue tied when nerves kick in!
Breath Balloon is a great warm up exercise for building breath capacity, which in turn supports voice projection. Imagine blowing up a balloon. Holding the imaginary balloon in your mouth, with hands close together in a small ball shape, start with a small breath in and out. As you exhale, the imaginary balloon expands and your hands will move further apart. Keep going as your imaginary balloon grows in size. The final breath will be a big one. Hold the inhale and then ‘Pop!’ the balloon, at which point, they exhale and their whole body deflates as they fly around the room before collapsing on the ground.
There are any number of fun tongue twisters out there to help you warm up your mouth. Below are just a few to improve clarity and pronunciation.
“Lazy lions lounging in the local library.”
“Proud peacocks preening perfect plumage.”
“Six slithering snakes sliding silently southward.“
A State of Readiness
Master teacher Patsy Rodenburg encourages actors to always be in a ‘state of readiness’, which she defines as a ‘presence in the body, breath and voice.’
Dedication to regular ‘drama drills’ between classes and as part of the at-home rehearsal schedule will ensure that your child enters the exam room or the stage in a state of performance readiness. This helps minimise the effects of nerves on the body and the voice, and gives them the strong foundations they need to showcase the fun and lively performances that they put so much of themselves into creating.
Try these fun warm ups at home. The practise and repetition will mean your child is familiar with warm up exercises on the day and they will be sure to have the desired effect – fewer nerves, increased clarity and improved communication during the performance.
Watch this fun warm up video here and then get your kids to try it at home.
Download the pdf here.