The following worksheet, with questions to be answered in writing by the performer, helps prepare the performer mentally for interpreting songs and arias in performance. 1. Name of song.
2. Name of composer.
3. Name of poet.
4. Translate the poem word-for-word. Render idiomatic phrases both literally and figuratively. Try to translate from a dictionary even if you have a word-for-word translation available.
5. Paraphrase the translation. Write the same thoughts using your own words.
6. Fill in between the lines. What is the hidden meaning of the poem?
7. What is the general subject of the poem? (Life, death, love, joy?) Try to state it in one word.
8. Define the Super-objective: What does the song say concerning the subject? For example: Love is joyous; departing wrecks lives; love consumes me (this is the super-objective).
9. How does the composer manifest his feelings about the poem? (Analyze the song for performance, especially content of the accompaniment and the melodic contour.)
10. Describe in as much detail as possible the speaker of the text, both physically and emotionally. What is her story? What is happening to him? What happened to her just before the song? In other words, describe a situation in which the speaker would be motivated to say the text.
11. What is the speaker's eye-focus for the song? What is she observing? Describe it in as much detail as possible. Does it change during the song? Where does it exist in the performance space? (Above the audience, below, somewhere in the audience)?
12. Have you ever experienced an emotion similar to the speaker of the poem? Describe in as much detail as possible the situation in which you felt that emotion. (Search for your emotional key, the part of the memory that allows the fullness of the feeling to resurface.)
13. In what other ways than similar emotions does this song relate to your life? Do you agree with the answer to number 8? Do you like the speaker? If the eye-focus is another person, do you like (love) that person? Why or why not? What can we learn from this song?
14. Sing the song before a mirror. Do your eyes and face reflect the emotional content defined above? Do your posture and body-language reflect the emotional content defined above?
15. Tape yourself singing the song. Do your vocal colors and articulation reflect the emotional content defined above?
16. By what other vocal and non-vocal techniques can you best convey to the audience the meaning of the song?
Return to Bruce Schoonmaker's Home Page