After completing all the introductory activities, have the students view the GREAT PERFORMANCES program, RENÉE FLEMING & BRYN TERFEL: MUSIC UNDER THE STARS. Be sure to download and copy all Organizers for Students prior to beginning work on the activities in question. In addition, be sure to preview the video, double-check in advance that Internet access is functional, and verify that the sites listed in the Bookmarked Sites section are accessible to and appropriate for the students.
GREAT PERFORMANCES' RENÉE FLEMING & BRYN TERFEL: MUSIC UNDER THE STARS and, at the teacher's discretion, any of the musicals listed in Organizer #1 that can be found in video format.
- Modem: 56.6 kbps or faster
- Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer 4.0 or above
- Personal computer (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz): Windows® 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM
- Macintosh computer: System 8.1 or above and at least 32 MB of RAM
- Software: Microsoft Office
Information about Renée Fleming:
Information about Bryn Terfel:
Information about Paul Gemignani:
Information about composers and lyricists:
(Click on the Encyclopedia of Composers & Songwriters link)
Information about musicals:
Students will need the following supplies:
A copy of each organizer handout
A journal (either paper or digital)
Handouts of Web resources if there are not enough computers available
Pencils, colored pencils, and appropriate paper for drawing
Introductory Activities and Research:
It is advisable that the students view the MUSIC UNDER THE STARS video after completing a number of introductory activities. The following activity will prepare the students for the main activities (Learning Activities) that follow.
1. Brainstorm with your class about the concept of the musical and ask them to verbally "shout out" everything they know about musicals. Write the students' comments on a blackboard or whiteboard so that everyone can see them. To encourage student thinking, prompt them by asking the following questions:
When the blackboard is full, inform your class that this unit of study will be about musicals, and, using a colored marker or chalk, circle the most relevant terms on the board.
- What do you think of when someone says the word "musical"?
- What kinds of musicals are there?
- Is there any acting in musicals, or just singing?
- Name some musicals.
- Name some musical composers.
2. Distribute Organizer #1 and read over the names of the musicals and composers/lyricists listed. Ask the students to break into pairs (or trios if your class is large) and then assign each pair to one or two of the musicals and corresponding composers/lyricists. Depending on the ability level of your students, you may want to limit this activity to one musical and composer/lyricist per pair, instead of two (or three). First, ask each group to begin brainstorming about what they may or may not know about their assigned musicals (and composers/lyricists). When they are finished, ask them to write down at least five questions they will answer by researching their assigned musical(s). (Students who know nothing or very little about their assigned musical may move to the question portion more quickly.) Be sure to circulate around the room so that groups who are having difficulty can ask you questions.
Students will then work in pairs (groups), either in class or at home, to create a research presentation for the purpose of "teaching" the rest of the class. The presentation must fulfill the following requirements:
3. After explaining the project and establishing a presentation date, ask each pair (group) to convene and determine roles in the project (i.e., who will do what). This may be broken up by requirements or in some other manner, but, regardless, the students need to be encouraged to take into account one another's strengths and weaknesses when determining roles. If the students have trouble with this step, put more parameters on the project planning stage by requiring that each pair (group) submit to you a work plan detailing which group member will be responsible for each specific aspect of the project and when each part will be finished.
- Utilize two or more of the Bookmarked Sites or other Internet sites to develop an educational presentation for the entire class on the assigned musical(s) and composer(s)/lyricist(s). Students should not be required to submit a report, but instead be encouraged to use presentation software and develop informational handouts for the rest of the class.
- Answer the general questions outlined in Organizer #2 as specifically as possible.
4. It is advisable to begin the research process with the students in class. The amount of class time you decide to spend will depend on the students' ability to work together and to work on research projects. If they have not done much Internet research, you may need to take them through the basics of conducting searches. If they are more adept at research, allow them to complete a larger portion of the work independently, for homework. Encourage the students to communicate via e-mail to ensure that they work productively outside of class.
5. The presentations should take place in one class period, if possible. They should be completed before the students go on to Activity 1. If you limit each presentation to five minutes, you should have time to fit them all into one period. Schedule more time if you feel it is necessary.
6. When the groups are ready to make their presentations to the class, tell the students that they must take notes on each other's presentations because they will be quizzed on the content. Encourage them to ask questions during or after each group's presentation, which should not exceed 5-10 minutes per group.
(Extension: To learn more about musicals, students can also watch the GREAT PERFORMANCES programs THE GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK and KISS ME, KATE.)
7. (optional) Review the following vocabulary terms and explain any the students do not understand. Ask them to break into groups of two to study the terms and prepare for a vocabulary quiz to be given the next day. Students may opt to help one another with various memory techniques or to quiz one another on the terms.
In the next class, ask the students to define the terms in their own words without using notes. Alternatively, you might want to quiz the students orally to generate a discussion and to ensure that they've learned the key terms.
- overture (an introductory musical composition to an opera, a musical, etc.)
- repertoire (a list of dramas, operas, parts, songs, etc. that a person or a company has rehearsed and is prepared to perform)
- conducive (helpful, contributive)
Each learning activity assumes that the Introductory Activities have been completed in advance. Before beginning any of the activities, be sure to explain the evaluation/assessment plan as it is outlined in Organizer #5.
Activity 1: Viewing and Responding to RENÉE FLEMING & BRYN TERFEL: MUSIC UNDER THE STARS
1. Show the video of the GREAT PERFORMANCES program RENÉE FLEMING & BRYN TERFEL: MUSIC UNDER THE STARS. Explain to the students that they will be expected to take two kinds of notes while watching the tape. Using Organizer #3, they will note what they see in the video for each song in the "Performance Description" column. They will also write down their thoughts and reactions to each song in the "Reaction" column. Discuss the difference between facts and reactions if you think such a minilesson is necessary.
(Extension: If you have resources available, you might take the students to see an actual musical performance. See http://www.livebroadway.com for help locating local performances.)
(Note to Teachers: Depending on the age and attention span of your students, you may want to break up the viewing of the video into at least two different sessions so that they do not lose interest.)
2. At the 20-minute point in the video, Renée Fleming remarks that she wants to sing "Hello, Young Lovers" from the musical "The King and I" and that the song has a "bittersweet message." Stop the video (and replay, if necessary, or watch an extended excerpt of the song included in the Video Jukebox) after Renée Fleming sings the song, and discuss what the students "see" (descriptions) and their reactions. Ask: "How is the song bittersweet?"
Stop the video (and replay, if necessary) after Bryn Terfel sings "Sometimes a Day Goes By" (at roughly 27 minutes) and discuss with the class their reactions to the song. Ask: "Why doesn't the singer want to see her?"
3. Have the students share their notes from Organizer #3 to generate a class discussion about what they saw on the video and their reactions to it. Since their responses are influenced by past experiences, culture, and so on, all responses must be considered acceptable; there are no wrong responses. Encourage the students to be honest but appropriate in their remarks. On the blackboard or whiteboard, record on one side a list of the students' reactions and on the other, a list of their descriptions.
Activity 2: Understanding Song Language
1. Read the definitions of "metaphor" and "personification" in Organizer #4.
Activity 3: Writing About Romance
2. Using Renée Fleming's rendition of "Moonfall" (at roughly 42 minutes), ask the students to complete the activity included in Organizer #4 to gain a better understanding of metaphor and personification. After you have gone through the examples provided in the organizer, brainstorm with the class as many words or descriptions associated with love and romance or a romantic situation as possible. To help the students stay on topic, encourage them to think of words, phrases, and descriptions they know from popular romantic songs (Broadway or other kinds). Write their responses on one side of the board. Next, brainstorm verbs or symbols that might be used to personify these terms (e.g., "time holds its breath") and words that might stand for various concepts (e.g., "cloak of night"), and write them in the middle of the board. Then write the entire metaphor for each example on the right side of the board.
||Verb or Symbol
or Metaphorical Phrase
|time seems to go
||frozen in time
||time holds its
|blackness of night
||cloak of night
3. Ask the students to pick one of the metaphors or personifications on the board and draw a picture of it. Give them a fair amount of time to do this, so that they can see that concepts can be represented as symbols (things), thus helping to conjure up images in viewers' heads.
1. Replay "I Don't Remember You" (at roughly 25 minutes), a few times if needed. Ask the students to think about an experience or object that they don't want to remember or want to forget. Then ask them to write these experiences or objects down in their journals. Next, they should spend 10-15 minutes brainstorming and writing down everything they DO remember and answer the following question: "Why don't you want to remember ______________?" Explain that these activities will eventually provide the subject of a story that they will be writing, so encourage them to pick their topics carefully. Keep in mind that these objects or experiences may be excessively sensitive, depending on the students' individual experiences, so you should take into account individual feelings accordingly. This exercise is meant to provide an opportunity to experience writing as a sort of therapy and a chance to begin to understand the negative sides of romance and relationships, like hurt, disappointment, etc. If the students have trouble thinking of something "real" to brainstorm or write about, give them the option of picking a fictional topic.
(Extension: If you have the time and would like to extend the outcomes of this activity, take this writing to the publication stage by asking the students to post their work on your school or classroom Web site.)
2. Ask the students to use the information in their journals as material to write a story about the experience or object in question. This can be assigned for homework.
3. When the students bring their drafts to class, ask them to work in pairs or groups to find at least three terms or phrases that can be turned into metaphors or personification. Utilize Activity 2 to guide the students through the process of adding metaphors and personification to their writing. They should focus on nouns that can be described metaphorically or personified easily. Students should then save their draft for further revision later.
4. Depending on the manner in which you teach writing, conduct peer-revision sessions with the students so that they may improve their stories over time, or revise their work yourself. Regardless, the students should go through a writing/revision process and be given a hard due date for the final copy.
Alternatively (for slightly more difficulty), or in addition, you can use "Wheels of a Dream" (at roughly 51 minutes) for a similar assignment. For this song, ask the students to respond to the question: "When did you ride on the wheels of a dream?"
Or, use "Loving You" (at roughly 31 minutes), and ask the students to write about the pros and cons of a time when they loved someone or something as much as the singer in this song.
1. You are encouraged to ask your students to share their stories with the class if they so desire. You might even organize a "reading" that is the culmination of the entire unit and allows for some closure.
2. Alternatively, or in addition, you may want to encourage some of your students to illustrate and/or perform their stories for the class.
3. Use Organizer #5 to assess your students' work.
- You might consider expanding the Web-based research to include interviews with local singers and musical actors. Even a visit to a local or Broadway theater, for a tour of the stage and to see the actors in person, would be beneficial.
- If you have access to a conductor, singer, or actor, a field trip or guest speaker would enhance student understanding of musical theater.
- If you have the opportunity and resources, take your students to a Broadway or traveling Broadway production.