Part 9 of the 12-part series
Part 9 of the 12-part series: Why Drama is so important in School. – ENUNCIATION
This one is near and dear to my heart, as I have a son who didn’t speak until he was 3 and a half years old. We are still working on some of his speaking challenges today, many years later. But, fortunate for him, his dad teaches drama, and well… he’s been in a few of my classes (like 20 of them or so!). He’s typically the loudest kid on stage (and the loudest one at home, too!) Over time, he has been able to work on his skill of reading, enunciating, and projecting his voice so the audience can hear and understand him.
James Earl Jones, aka Darth Vader, once said, “One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter.” You see, as a child, Jones had a stutter. He said he overcame the affliction through poetry, public speaking, and acting. ACTING… the fact that you have to actively go over words again and again forces you and ALLOWS you to practice enunciating them correctly.
However, this post is fairly self-evident. As enunciation is improved via practice. And the art of drama is to practice, practice, practice. Many kids read their parts well over a hundred times prior to a performance. Most of this reading is out loud. And when you have encouraging directors, teachers, and parents helping along the way, the child has no choice but to work on the correct enunciation of a word. How to slow down and speak clearly so the audience can understand them.
Speaking clearly, or better yet, not mumbling, is something most kids could and should practice. One beauty of rehearsing a play is the numerous opportunities for practicing how to properly pronounce a word or combination of words. Good diction, or enunciation, is a critical communication and life skill.
Enunciation is the clear and distinct pronunciation of words, and it is an important aspect of effective communication. Performing theatre can be a helpful way to improve enunciation for several reasons.
First, acting requires the use of one’s voice in various ways, such as speaking loudly or softly, speaking with different accents or dialects, and using different vocal inflections to convey emotion or meaning. By practicing these techniques, actors can improve their overall control and flexibility in their use of the voice.
Second, theatre also often involves public speaking, which requires clear and precise enunciation to be understood by an audience. By performing in front of an audience and receiving feedback, actors can identify any weaknesses in their enunciation and work on improving them.
Drama is about repetitiveness. When you are allowed to safely, and non-judgementally, practice speaking clearly, the skill increases dramatically. Some kids do this because it’s just a bad habit, others because they have a speaking challenge, and some because they are nervous on stage. However, ALL can be improved.
Finally, theatre may also involve the use of stage microphones, which require precise enunciation to be heard clearly. Actors must learn to articulate their words clearly and distinctly to be understood through the microphone, or all the way to the back row, which can help improve overall enunciation skills.
Overall, performing theatre can be a helpful way to improve enunciation through the various vocal techniques and public speaking required in the medium.