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Erica McGee
is currently a Teaching Artist with the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center's Education Institute. She is also available as a freelance Teaching Artist/Director for individual school requests.

Teaching Artist-Theatre & Music
Available Lessons & Workshops:

K-2

Soundtrack
In a story pertinent to the class curriculum, a picture book is revealed, stopping at every picture.  When we stop at a picture, we imagine all the sounds we might hear in the depicted scene.  Students are coached to really get in-depth; if there is a picture of a cow in a farmyard they are asked, are lots of things besides "moos?"  We make the sounds while watching the teacher "conducts"--indicating louder or softer like an orchestra conductor.  This is done with each picture.  The story is then read again, this time not stopping.  This results in a smooth telling of the story with a running soundtrack. Students are also exposed to soundtracks from movies and theatre to compare to their soundtrack.  What are these songs telling them about the story?  How do the sounds contribute and enhance? Older students may even write a song to accompany the story they have just heard.

Improv-a-plasion!
The students think about a subject. (I.E. The four seasons, an animal safari or the five senses).  What are some of the activities you do in those situations?  What kinds of things do we tend to see/do in each of those situations?  When a subject is decided on, I call out “action” using a “Hollywood clapboard”.  The “actors” respond in character.  Sometimes there are several "Action!" calls for each topic.  There is a lot of stress on senses. What does the action sound like? Feel like? Does it have a smell? A taste? What do you see?

K-5

Rap n’ Rhyme
Everyone sits in a circle.  The musical rhythm started with an instrument (keyboard, maracas, etc.). The students clap to the beat of the instrument.  A rhyming word is asked for in rhythm.  For instance “cat”. Anyone who thinks they know a rhyming word raises their hand.  When called on, they do NOT say the word.  Instead, they go into the center of the circle and act out their guess while the circle claps.  (For example, a child might get into the circle and pantomime "bat" by flapping his arms and swooping.)

The circle guesses what the rhyming word is. Once the “scene” has been guessed, the teacher reveals whether it is the right word.  If it is, the round is over and a new word is picked.  (With older kids, the winner may pick the new word.)  If it is incorrect, another “actor” comes into the circle to act out the guess.  This can be increased in difficulty depending upon the student’s ability.

Our Anthem
Do you know the words and melody for your national anthem?  The definition of an anthem?  Learn about the history behind the words, images, and music. Do you feel that it proclaims all that is good and true about your country today? Listen as the teacher sings the anthem to you!

This is a lesson that teaches the history of the National Anthem, the history of what an anthem is.  We brainstorm new or additional words to describe our nation, words that tell about our country’s people, cultures, history, arts, landscape, visions, and future.  Other national anthems may be included in this lesson.

We choose words that resonate with the class. Write new lines to the national anthem that we feel are pertinent to today.  Then we talk about an anthem for the class, the school.  What would we write? What would we say about ourselves?  We write words that describe the situation and then put them to a new tune or a familiar one using tone and meter.  Students will brainstorm words to describe their nation and individually or in small groups compose a new anthem and present it in a dramatic and visual way.

Grades 2-5

On Your Feet Fairy Tales
The class reads a story pertinent to the curriculum of the class (fairy tales have been successful). We talk about what problems are encountered in the story.  What challenges might we face in acting it out?  You have them act out the story.  With older kids, you may use the blackboard to assign roles, younger students act out the action simultaneously.  The story is read and the children act out the events. We forge ahead with whatever the children create until the end is reached.  Props and costumes may be used in this lesson.

On the Air-
The beginning is a discussion of television commercials.  A television commercial is shown.  How are commercials made?  Why do networks run commercials?  Why do people watch them?  What can you tell about a community by watching the commercials of that area?  What are the commercials trying to say to us? 

We talk about commercials, as we see them today.  What commercials do we like?  What makes us like them? Using the topics being discussed in the class, we come up with ideas for what commercials could be created to promote them? (I.E. History, Fairy Tales, Science)  We divide into small groups and each group retires to a different corner of the room.  The groups are given time to choose a commercial topic from the subject being studied and rehearse their performance of it.  The group then comes together and each “commercial” is performed and the other students act as audience.  Each group in turn performs.  If desired, the students are recorded onto video camera and edited versions of each “advertisement” are delivered back to the class.

Workshops Available

Write Alive
This workshop incorporates creative writing and drama.  Students are taught what elements are necessary for a good story to be developed.  Then students focus on what elements make a good theatre production.  Students write stories and over a 4-5-lesson time frame that will conclude the workshop with performances of some of the stories created using props and costumes.

DIVA/DIVO 101
This is a vocalization workshop for interested performers.  What is stage presence?  How do you move on stage?

Erica McGee will teach practical tips on developing your own style, blending to create one voice in a group and pitch training for a solid foundation.  Also learn microphone manipulation and song interpretation for solo performances!

Let’s Act Out!
This is a series of lessons focusing on one theatre production to be performed at the conclusion of the workshop.  A musical production is chosen or developed and students learn to act, sing and dance in the process of pulling the production together.  Each lesson begins with an acting and vocalization warm-up exercise.  Music materials are given to the students to take home and learn.  This workshop may be done in conjunction with any of the other school departments or as a stand-alone event.  A final production is presented in a school performance and/or in a public performance.

To book Erica for a performance of energized entertainment,
call 704-847-9672 or via e-mail at ericaallenmcgee@hotmail.com

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