Help From Kathie

How long does it take to learn a musical?
Allow yourself one hour of musical rehearsal per song. By reading the section of the Director’s Aide and Video (DAV) titled, “Using the Song Segments in your Rehearsals,” you will learn how to break each song into achievable segments and understand the benefits of rehearsing each song over several rehearsals. If you incorporate the teaching activities as described in the section “Using the Activities in Your Rehearsal,” you will need to add about 15 minutes for each activity. So a good standard is to allow a minimum of 10 rehearsals for a ten-song musical. If you choose not to rehearse the drama separately, allow at least two more rehearsals for that, but don’t stretch your rehearsals over more than a three to four month period or your children will tire of the music and lose enthusiasm for the production.

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What if my choir is very small? Can I even do a musical?
Certainly! Here’s how:
  • Choose a musical with a minimum of speaking parts and/or parts that can be read by concealing the scripts props. Remember that you can also combine two or more speaking parts in to one.
  • Simplify a musical by cutting out scenes or songs. Many of my works have places where, by eliminating a scene and/or character, the musical can be shortened and the audience will never know.
  • Use the split track voices to fill out a small choir’s vocal sound.
  • Incorporate teens and/or adults (singing in their upper register) for vocal support and to perform speaking parts.
  • Incorporate puppets in the lead parts.
  • Prepare and perform the musical during a “music camp.” Invite the community and children who might not ordinarily be involved in your music program to participate several hours a day for one or two weeks, or once a week over the summer months.
  • Team up with another church to perform the musical. Rehearse separately up to your dress rehearsal, then perform your musical twice, once at your church and once at theirs. If necessary, double cast the musical with your children in the cast at your performance and their cast and/or soloists from your partner church for their program.
  • Choose a musical that has plenty of “pull-out” songs (songs which make sense outside the musical.) Then, if you realize you can’t pull off a quality production, you will still have a good selection of songs to substitute the musical for a quality children’s concert.

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Can I incorporate preschoolers into my production?
It’s chancy to involve children younger than 2nd grade in a musical which lasts over 30 minutes. Why?

Their attention span is very short and especially if there is a run-through before the performance, the younger children will tire out.

Some preschoolers may be intimidated singing in front of an audience and that fear will inhibit their participation in choir. Others might have a negative experience such as experiencing stage fright or having to go to the bathroom during the performance which can affect their involvement in your productions even after they have matured.

Some precocious preschoolers will “mug” or “squirm” on stage taking attention away from the group as a whole and distracting from the message of the musical.

The older children are never as enthusiastic about participating with younger children and, when combined with the preschoolers, will perceive that your choir program is mostly for the little kids.

If the younger children participate in every musical, by the time they are older, the novelty of being in a production wears off making it harder to keep them involved in your music program.

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But, what if I have to involve preschoolers in my production?
The best way to incorporate preschoolers is to have them sing several songs before the presentation of the musical or involve them in a portion of the musical. Look for places (often noted) where it would be appropriate to bring out the younger children for a scene or two. For example, in Dr. Newheart’s Neck-up Check-up they can be animals in the song “Tame Your Tongue.” In Promise U. the preschoolers can enter in Scene 7 as the Chinese children to sing “Give it Up, Get it Back.” They can remain on stage through the remainder of the musical, singing a total of four songs. In Christmas in Egypt, the younger children can be the biblical children in Scene 3 then come back during the dialogue before the Finale. In Nic at Night, the younger children can be the butterflies in the song “Born Brand New.”
When not on stage, chaperones can sit with the preschoolers on the floor allowing them to observe the performance until it is time for their entrance. This is preferable to keeping them corralled offstage and watching the older children will give them an example of how they should behave when they are on stage.
If you do involve the younger children, always rehearse the groups separately (ie, K-2nd in one group and 3rd – 6th/8th in another.) This will allow you to tailor your rehearsal and activities to each age group. Combine the two groups for the last few, making sure that the more strident vocal sound of the younger children blends with the mature voices of the older kids.

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How do you audition children for solos and speaking parts?
There is a ten-page section in every Director’s Aide and Video that guides you through the audition process and includes reproducible letters, forms and evaluation sheets which are personalized to each musical.

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What if I have more children than there are parts or solos in the musical?
  • Double cast your musical and have more than one performance.
  • Turn one part into two or three. If there is a girl's speaking part, divide the lines and distinguish the additional girls as a "twin," "sister" or friend."
  • Create additional parts and dialogue. It is acceptable to augment a script or add songs to a published musical, but if you are not the musical in whole or as written, please contact the publisher for information. If permission is granted you must state in your program that the work has been modified from its original form by permission from the publisher and give credit to the creators/writers of the original material.
  • Create additional solos from choral segments of a song/s. If using the split track accompaniment, simply drop the track voices for that section.

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How can I involve more boys in my choir program?
Choose works that have “boy appeal.” Look for characters or music they would relate to…soldiers, athletes, villains, etc. Boys tend to lose interest in slow songs long before the girls do so look for a work that is not “ballad-heavy” or simply delete one or more of the slow songs. The group choreography on the Instructional Video in the DAV demonstrates movements that most boys should like, but if doing motions diminishes their enthusiasm for choir, either allow them to create their own choreography or designate the movements to one group. Lastly, vary the content and pace of your choir time, by incorporating the Teaching Activities in the DAV into each rehearsal. A variety of activities will always hold the boy’s attention better than continual singing.

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Which of your musicals is most appropriate for younger children and which for older children?

Each work is written to be within the abilities of most 1st – 6th graders, although I have seen performances that included children as young as five years old as well as productions with middle school and high school students.

Listed below are the suggested grade levels of many of my musicals available through the eStore in order of release, along with notes on the number of speaking parts and solos and a description of the simplicity or complexity of the set and costumes.

Donkey Tales
Ages: 1st – 6th grades
Set: "Tex's Dude Ranch"
Costumes: Optional western wear
Voicing: Unison/2 part
Music: Easy
Drama: Multiple narrators and simple drama
Video options: Instructional/Movement DVD includes accompaniment video for “The Voice of God” and “Donkey Tales Reprise”
Performance Time: Approximately 45 minutes

The Christmas S.O.C.C.E.R. Team
An Intergenerational Musical for Kids
Age: 2nd - 8th Grades
Speaking Parts: 5-10 Children / 3 Adults
Solos: minimum of 7
Set: present day hall or rehearsal room decorated for Christmas
Costumes: Adults - Christmas clothes; Kids - soccer jerseys
Voicing: Unison/2 part
Music: EASY
Drama: SIMPLE DIALOGUE, SIMPLE STAGE ACTION
Performance Time: 45 minutes

Holy Moses!
A Musical Discovery for Kids
Age: 1st - 8th Grades
Speaking Parts: 4 child characters, 4 child or adult characters, 5-8 additional speakers
Solos: minimum of 15
Set: present day Egypt on location with "Trading Places"
Costumes: Warm-weather street clothes or Holy Moses! T shirts; "Trading Places" team member shirts and cast outfits
Voicing: Unison/3 part
Music: EASY
Drama: SIMPLE DIALOGUE, SIMPLE STAGE ACTION
Performance Time: 45 minutes

Good News from a Grave
An Easter Celebration for Kids
Age: 2nd - 8th Grades
Speaking Parts: 9
Solos: minimum of 6
Set: a contemporary cemetery
Costumes: contemporary work clothes
Voicing: Unison/2-3 part
Music: EASY to MODERATE CHALLENGE
Drama: SIMPLE DIALOGUE, SIMPLE STAGE ACTION
Performance Time: Approximately 30 minutes

Esther-Ordinary Faith
A Kids' Musical for "Such a Time as This"
Age: 2nd - 8th Grades
Speaking Parts: 9, plus 16 one-liners in "God's Child"
Solos: minimum of 8
Set: 4th Century Persia
The King's Gate, the Inner Court and the Outer Court
Costumes: Biblical
Voicing: Unison/2-part
Music: EASY
Drama: SIMPLE DIALOGUE, CHALLENGING STAGE ACTION

Operation Christmas Child
A Kids Musical based on the shoe box ministry of Samaritan's Purse
Age: Preschool - 8th Grade
Speaking Parts: 9 characters, plus several narrations
Solos: minimum of 10 solos
Set: For Faithful, home of Special Forces Unit 12-25
Costumes: camo shirts and black pants
Voicing: Unison/2-part
Music: EASY
Drama: EASY

Fish Tales
A 3-in-1 musical for Thanksgiving, Easter, and Missions
Age: Preschool – 6th grade
Speaking parts: 4 children, 1 adult
Solos: minimum of 8
Set: fishing contest on a dock, lake or river
Costumes: fishing clothes or Fish Tales T-shirts
Voicing: Unison/2-part
Music: EASY
Drama: VERY EASY

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Promise U.
Age: 2nd grade and up, although younger children can be incorporated for the last two scenes, and four songs, of the musical.
Speaking parts: from 11 to 20, with optional adult parts
Solos: minimum of 10
Set: indoor or outdoor setting; can be as simple or elaborate as you choose
Costumes: Promise U. shirts and contemporary character costumes

The MK Christmas Special
Age: 1st grade and up with several songs easy enough for preschoolers
Speaking parts: 15-30, with optional adult parts
Solos: minimum of 9
Set: talk show set-up, decorated for Christmas
Costumes: Christmas clothes and simple biblical costumes or props

Dr. Newheart’s Neck-Up Check-Up
Age: 2nd grade and up, with several songs (or choruses of songs) easy enough for preschoolers
Speaking parts: minimum of 11, with optional adult parts
Solos: minimum of 11
Set: bare stage, a choir room or outside scene with optional bus
Costumes: street clothes with contemporary character costumes and optional costumes for several choreographed songs

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Levite Genes
Age: 1st grade and up with several songs easy enough for preschoolers.
Speaking parts: minimum of 7 with 3 optional adult parts and up to 60 non character lines
Solos: minimum of 20
Set: sanctuary or choir loft
Costumes: church clothes and optional character costumes

The Christmas Family Tree
Age: 2nd grade and up, with several songs or choruses of songs easy enough for preschoolers
Speaking parts: minimum of 7 with optional adult parts
Solos: minimum of 14
Set: outdoor or indoor setting with large Christmas tree as focal point
Costumes: winter clothes or Christmas clothes

Nic at Night
Age: 1st grade and up with several songs easy enough for preschoolers
Speaking parts: minimum of 16 with optional adult parts
Solos: minimum of 12
Set: various scenes, identified by moveable props with optional starry sky backdrop
Costumes: black shirts with stenciled or silk-screened stars, biblical costumes for characters and optional butterfly costume(s)

AmeriKids
Age: 1st grade and up with several songs easy enough for preschoolers
Speaking parts: minimum of 13 with optional adult parts
Solos: minimum of 8
Set: convention setting with patriotic decor
Costumes: street clothes with optional character costumes

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Hans Bronson’s Gold Medal Mission
Age: 1st grade and up with several songs easy enough for preschoolers
Speaking parts: minimum of 9 with optional adult parts
Solos: minimum of 14
Set: Olympic rally, indoors or outdoors
Costumes: Street clothes or Olympic tee shirts and character costumes

Christmas in Egypt
Age: 2nd grade and up with several songs easy enough for preschoolers
Speaking parts: minimum of 9 with one toddler part and optional adult parts
Solos: minimum of 14
Set: Egyptian setting – four scenes with moveable props
Costumes: Egyptian clothing and biblical clothing

The Don’t Be Afraid Brigade
Age: 2nd grade and up with several songs (or choruses of songs) easy enough for preschoolers
Speaking parts: minimum of 5
Solos: minimum of 10
Set: heaven
Costumes: white sweats with DBAB logo

Dr. Newheart’s Christmas Cure
Ages: 1st – 6th grades
Set: Dr. Newheart's clinic
Costumes: Christmas clothes, medical garb for characters
Voicing: Unison/2 part
Music: Easy
Drama: Multiple characters for children, teens and/or adults
Performance Time: Approximately 45 minutes

Wise Guys & Starry Skies
Ages: 1st – 6th grades
Set: A desert in the Middle East
Costumes: Biblical dress, optional cowboy garb, aprons & hats for chorus kids
Voicing: Unison/2 part
Music: Easy
Drama: 3 kings, 2 kid characters, Mary & Joseph (multiple solos)
Performance Time: Approximately 45 minutes

We Like Sheep
Ages: 1st – 6th grades
Set: a field
Costumes: optional “Ewes” and “Rams” football shirts
Voicing: Unison/2 part
Music: Easy
Drama: 7 speakers & several non-speaking parts
Performance Time: Approximately 30 minutes

Angels Aware!
Age: 2nd grade and up with several songs (or choruses of songs) easy enough for preschoolers
Speaking parts: minimum of 4
Solos: minimum of 5
Set: heaven
Costumes: simple angel costumes (pattern included in Director’s Edition)

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Which musicals are under 20 minutes, under 40 minutes, or under an hour?
15-20 min 25-40 min 45 -55 min
Donkey Tales
Fish Tales
Holly Days Songs of Praise
The Best of Kathie Hill’s All Year Long Songs
The Best of Kathie Hill’s Christmas
Good News from a Grave
Fish Tales
Levite Genes
The Christmas Family Tree
AmeriKids
Hans Bronson’s Gold Medal Mission
We Like Sheep
The Christmas S.O.C.C.E.R. Team
Fish Tales
Holy Moses!
Esther-Ordinary Faith
Operation Christmas Child
Promise U.
The MK Christmas Special
Dr. Newheart’s Neck-Up Check-Up
Nic at Night
Christmas in Egypt
The Don’t Be Afraid Brigade
Dr. Newheart’s Christmas Cure
Wise Guys & Starry Skies
Angels Aware!

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A choir with under 15 children and few or no adult/teen participants:

Donkey Tales - Fish Tales - Levite Genes - Hans Bronson’s Gold Medal Mission - Christmas in Reverse - Good News from a Grave - The Christmas Family Tree - AmeriKids - The Don’t Be Afraid Brigade - Angels Aware! - Best of Kathie Hill’s All-Year-Long Songs - The Best of Kathie Hill’s Christmas - Holly Day’s Songs of Praise -

A choir with few boys:

Levite Genes- Donkey Tales- Fish Tales - Hans Bronson’s Gold Medal Mission - Christmas in Reverse - The Christmas S.O.C.C.E.R. Team - Good News from a Grave - The Christmas Family Tree - Christmas in Egypt - The Don’t Be Afraid Brigade

A choir with mostly young children (lst – 3rd grade):

Donkey Tales - Fish Tales - Levite Genes - Hans Bronson’s Gold Medal Mission - Good News from a Grave - The Don’t Be Afraid Brigade Go, Go, Jonah - The Best of Kathie Hill’s Christmas - Holly Day’s Songs of Praise – The Christmas Family Tree

A choir with mostly older children (4rd – 6th/8th):

Esther-Ordinary Faith - Promise U- Dr. Newheart’s Neck-Up Check-Up- - Holy Moses! - The Christmas S.O.C.C.E.R. Team - Operation Christmas Child - The MK Christmas Special - Nic at Night – Christmas in Reverse - Best of Kathie Hill’s All-Year-Long Songs - Angels Aware!

A choir with a lot of speakers/soloists:

Esther-Ordinary Faith - Promise U- Dr. Newheart’s Neck-Up Check-Up- Go, Go, Jonah - Holy Moses! - The Christmas S.O.C.C.E.R. Team - Operation Christmas Child - The MK Christmas Special - Nic at Night – AmeriKids – Christmas in Egypt -

A choir with a short rehearsal period (4 – 6 weeks):

Donkey Tales or Fish Tales (individual stories) - Best of Kathie Hill’s All-Year-Long Songs or The Best of Kathie Hill’s Christmas (using mini-musical scripts) - Holly Day’s Songs of Praise (selected songs with narrations) – The MK Christmas Special (selected countries) - Good News From a Grave – Levite Genes - Hans Bronson’s Gold Medal Mission – AmeriKids - Christmas in Reverse- Christmas Family Tree

A choir that likes lots of dance or movement:

Holy Moses! - Esther-Ordinary Faith - Fish Tales - Promise U Dr. Newheart’s Neck-Up Check-Up - The Christmas S.O.C.C.E.R. Team Good News from a Grave - Operation Christmas Child - The MK Christmas Special

Minimal set and costumes:

Donkey Tales - Fish Tales – Levite Genes – Hans Bronson’s Gold Medal Mission - Christmas in Reverse - The Christmas S.O.C.C.E.R. Team Good News from a Grave - The Christmas Family Tree - The Don’t Be Afraid Brigade

A musical with video component/s provided:

Donkey Tales - Holy Moses! - Esther-Ordinary Faith- Promise U - Christmas in Reverse - Operation Christmas Child - The MK Christmas Special

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