One project that has made its way into every Drama 1 class I’ve taught since I began my illustrious career is the Lip Sync Performance.
It’s a wrap-up to the mime unit and a segues to monologues; a fun activity that also lets us talk about performance energy and audience engagement. Students work alone or in groups to put together a short lip sync performance to a (school-appropriate) song of their choice.
As the students rehearsed their songs yesterday, I noticed that this project also illustrates the progress made in technology in the last 14 years of my teaching.
When I began, way back at Dead President Junior High, students had to bring in their songs on CD. That’s it – that’s the only option.
A few years in, I had an iPod but few students did. They could either bring in their own CD or pay me $1 so I could download their song choice if I didn’t have it already in my music collection. I would take the list of song requests home and spend an evening downloading them onto my laptop since iTunes was blocked.
More and more students got iPods and I gradually turned the downloading over to them. Youtube was blocked at DPJH, though, so streaming was still not an issue.
When I started at Mountain Town High School, we used YouTube for most of the performances. Sometimes the students had the songs on their devices already, but not all. I still had to have the list of songs in advance, though, so I could open tabs to buffer all of the music over the night before since our school internet couldn’t reliably handle playing videos.
This week, I told the students their task and in seconds their phones were out and songs were streaming. One kid came up to my desk during the passing period and asked if he could go get his phone from the main office (school policy is for teachers to confiscate phones as needed during the day and then drop them off with the admin who track offenses and handle consequences. According to the VP, I’m “one of [his] best customers” for this).
“Sorry, not until after school,” I said.
“But I need it for the lip sync!” he protested. “Our song’s on it.”
“No problem,” I said. “You can use my laptop. Just pull it up on YouTube.”
He did not like the solution that kept his phone locked up, but he couldn’t argue with it.
Another handy advancement is Jimmy Fallon’s Lip Sync Battles, which provide excellent examples of what I’m asking the students to do. I can now show them something like this:
Instead of clips like this:
Still, my favorite lip sync performance is the one I’ve shown every class for years: