Children love singing and they love dressing up. Put these two together and you have the perfect ingredients for first musicals. So if you teach young children, or even primary school children who have had little or no experience of performing in front of an audience, here are some great ways to get started.
- Look at some of the songs that you sing with your students, or simple songs you could learn. Write a simple story to string these songs together. Split the story between children to read, and add songs at the appropriate time. This can be performed:
- Statically – class stand in lines – great for assemblies
- With mime – also good for assemblies
- With costumes and actions – any occasion
- Story with chorus of rhythmic speech – can be very effective performed in any of the above ways. To kick you off, you might like to try the “raps” of Val Neubecker, http://madhattermusicals.com.
- Getting more adventurous: write your own play with as much humour as you can – find appropriate songs from any genre that you and your pupils enjoy. This is very effective but requires more preparation. You need to plan in advance – write and think through how the play could be performed. Learn the music through the term/semester/year in music lessons. Bring together for the big performance. Beware some of your chosen songs may be under copyright,particularly modern songs, in which case you may have to seek permission.
- Choose a mini-musical from a publisher. This will cost, but not as much as you may think, especially original musicals that have not become Hollywood hits.
For beginners that may be as far as you wish to go. For the more ambitious teachers, why not encourage children to write their own music. This can be as simple as you like depending on the abilities of the children. Even tunes that children write can be simply harmonised, a few instruments added and then put together into a short musical.
The main thing is to make a start. You will be amazed at the possibilities that open up, and the flow through into other areas of the curriculum. The hard work will feel very worthwhile.