New Victory Arts Break: Songwriting and Music-Making

Wintertime is almost here, and as performances return to New Victory both on stage and on demand, Arts Break continues with delightful arts-based activities, perfect for when the weather outside is frightful. In the spirit of this season’s holiday musical, Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, we’ll be spending the next few weeks exploring activities you can enjoy as you gather with family and friends, starting with the magic of songwriting and music-making!

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New Victory Arts Break: Songwriting and Music-Making

Some of the videos in this Arts Break were filmed at the New Victory Theater. We acknowledge that New Victory resides on the seized homeland of the Lenape people and the intertribal territory of many First Nations. We celebrate and pay deep respect to all Indigenous peoples, past, present and future.

Keep Warm

Whether in winter or not, we always need to warm up! Your vocal cords—and your voice—are shaped by tiny muscles in your throat, so just like it’s important to warm up your body before you exercise, it’s important to warm up your voice before you sing. Let’s do a fun vocal warm up to get us ready to sing.

Step One: Start with a really low voice. Place your hand on your chest and let out a deep “huh” sound, like this:

Step Two: Next, put your finger on your nose and let out a nasal “n-yum” sound, like this:

Step Three: Lastly, hold your hand over your head and raise and lower your wrist in a wave. Let out a high “ooOOoo” sound, like this:

Step Four: Now let’s put these three sounds together into one big vocal exercise, like this:

Continue these exercises until your vocal cords feel nice and warm. And make sure to keep a glass of water nearby to stay hydrated while you sing!

Everyone Has Talent

Everyone has a hidden talent—and today we are going to sing about it! Let’s follow along with New Victory Teaching Artist Julia Sirna-Frest as she teaches us a song that we can personalize to showcase our own talents.

Step One: Think about your hidden talent. Is it singing? Is it spinning without getting dizzy? Maybe you can turn your tongue into twisted shapes! Pick the hidden talent that you want to share in song.

Step Two: Fill in the blank below with your hidden talent.

People don’t know this about me
But I can (name your talent here)
Quite naturally
Everyone has a hidden talent
Ask a friend to share theirs
Everyone has a hidden talent
Grab a friend and share

Step Three: It’s karaoke time! Sing yours lyrics to this instrumental clip of the song Julia taught us:

Keep extending the song! Ask your friends and family to share their talents and repeat the verse to include them.

Song in Silence

There’s musical inspiration all around us, even in sounds we may often ignore. Sometimes it takes a moment of silence for us to truly hear all the possibilities. Let’s see how many sounds we can discover in our own surroundings just by taking a moment to listen deeply.

Step One: Pick a room in your home, and sit down in silence. Close your eyes. Can you pinpoint four sounds? Maybe the hum of the refrigerator, a creak in the floor as someone takes a step, or maybe a distant dog barking!

Step Two: Now that you have your four sounds, try to mimic them using your mouth and voice. Practice until each sound is as close as possible to the real thing.

Step Three: Go up to a friend or family member and see if they can guess the sound you are making. Can you guess the sounds that Siobhan is making?

BONUS: What to do with all these sounds? Make music out of them, of course! Can you find musicality in the sounds you’ve practiced and use them to create a song, or recreate a song you already know?

Check out musician and beatboxer Big Marvel as he mimics everyday sounds, and listen for the moments when he uses them to create music.

We hope you enjoyed today’s musical journey, and that you were able to share a song with someone you love! Tune in next week when we’ll explore using our voices (and some puppets) to create original characters.

New Victory Arts Break Supporters

New Victory Arts Break is funded, in part, by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council,and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.