Tip 4 - Lyrics
Rhyming lyrics of musical theatre are fun and often easy to remember, but can carry with them some powerful themes.
- Musical Theatre songs often have powerful social and moral meanings. A song that is always poignant with students is Shadowland from "The Lion King". It is an abstract way of opening up discussions about morality, emotions and society.
- Taking words or meanings from a song can be a springboard for creative thinking and can lead to creating lyrics for new songs.
- “Whole-body” approach Dalcroze.
How to rehearse lyrics with an autistic child
Musical Theatre is a wonderful medium to engage autistic children. The storylines and characters are “larger than life”. Storylines are easy to follow but yet have strong moral and social messages within them. It is very easy for an autistic child to engage with the magical world of Musical Theatre and many life skills can be developed and enhanced through the lyrics of their songs.
Below are some tips for rehearsing lyrics and techniques to retain excitement and concentration:
- Don’t use a song-sheet!
The best method to learn lyrics is aurally and with visual cues. The child needs to be engaging with the lyrics, written lyrics are an obstacle to achieving this. Using song sheets create a barrier which prevents the autistic child from engaging with the audience effectively. Encourage the child to feel like they are telling a story with the lyrics.
- Use visual cues and movement
Visual cues are an excellent way of engaging an autistic child’s imagination. One of the key elements of musical training at Pro Corda is Dalcroze Eurythmics. This is a “whole-body” approach to music making. It is helpful for a child with autism to associate songs and lyrics with movements. This brings another creative element to songs and allows autistic children to explore the meanings of the lyrics by creating their own movements.
- Use the lyrics as a springboard for creative ideas
Songs from Musical Theatre are an excellent resource for creative ideas. Characters are often larger than life, good or bad and often the songs have a clear emotional theme. Use the characters and themes from songs to engage an autistic child in discussions and explore different words to describe the character. From there you can write a poem, which could be set to music, or alternatively use the rhythm of the words to create a percussive piece of music.
- Keep up the pace of the rehearsal
When rehearsing songs with an autistic child it is important to keep the individual engaged. Working in small, manageable sections makes learning a song less daunting and allows individuals to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when they have learnt a section. Keep the rehearsal moving at a fast pace by mixing up different songs, not spending too long on each task. Use a combination of sitting and standing within the rehearsal and allow space for movement to expel any excess energy.
- Encourage solos
Wherever possible encourage individuals to take on the responsibility of singing a solo. This can be extremely challenging for an autistic child but can have incredibly beneficial results. Taking to the stage has builds self-confidence in an unimaginable way and taking a solo elevates this experience to a whole new level! It is incredible to see how autistic individuals ‘come alive’ under the spotlight.
For more information on these, to get advice on a tailor made Pro Corda programme most suitable for your child, and for information on how to book please contact the Pro Corda office:
T – 01728 831354
E – firstname.lastname@example.org
Pro Corda’s CEO and Artistic Director, Andrew Quartermain, is a music and autism education specialist and is happy to talk with parents and families at any time to offer the best advice. You can contact him directly by email – email@example.com