Make it Personal, Part II

I have been blathering on about the expressive use of speech as a path to greater expression as music makers….

Poetry can also produce a strong ‘eureka’ moment when teaching techniques for audience engagement. I once saw Eric Booth use Shakespeare’s Sonnet #29 as follows:

Assume the listener is not familiar with Shakespeare. The language is difficult and archaic for them. If given the emotional arc of the piece in a way that connects it to their own life, the impact of the poem is much stronger. For example, using method acting techniques, you could direct them to think of a time when they felt very isolated and lonely. Next, to think of something they want – something that makes them jealous. Finally, ask what or who can always make them feel better. Then say the sonnet:

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

I hope the the sonnet was more accessible by reading it through the lens of your own life experience.
If Elizabethan English can be an obstacle for the the modern speaker, how much more alienating a musical language must be to the uninitiated…. And yet, with some creative thought, the same method acting techniques can open a  door into a piece of music.
My friend and colleague, Eli Epstein, has built an entire series – Inside Out Concerts – around this approach. His events are like guided meditations, and audience members tend to share feelings and impressions with each other at the end. It’s a great way to build community.

3 responses to “Make it Personal, Part II

  1. Sharan, you are making me work very hard!

    One of my mentors and now friend, told to me read poetry aloud. Read it to the students, read it to my horse, when I had him, read it to a tree, if no person were near.
    Meaning comes in different ways, and oft times clearly when hearing the poet’s words aloud.

  2. Pingback: All that talk… Where’s the action? | Just Tuning In

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