Music Theatre: Singing Sondheim

Subject MUSI20186 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 36 hours
Total Time Commitment:

120 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Faculty of the VCA & MCM Student Centre
Ground Floor, Elisabeth Murdoch Building (Bldg 860)
Southbank Campus
234 St Kilda Road, Southbank, 3006

Phone: 13 MELB (13 6352)

Subject Overview:

This subject is an exploration of the works and influences of Stephen Sondheim, one of the most extraordinary composer/lyricists of music theatre, delivered through a weekly 2-hour large ensemble singing class and a one-hour embedded lecture. Most popularly known as the lyricist of West Side Story, Sondheim’s work covers an astonishing range of subject matter, exhibiting song-writing craft that has challenged and ultimately contributed to the development new forms of music theatre. The practical work, delivered in the supportive environment of singing within a large group, will explore the complexity and joy of Sondheim’s music whilst developing skills in safe voice usage and technique, basic music notation, harmonies, song structure and style and storytelling through song. Embedded lectures will focus on the Sondheim’s early influences, including Bernstein and Hammerstein; collaborations with such greats as Jerome Robbins (West Side Story, Gypsy), Hal Prince (Company, Sweeney Todd) and James Lapine (Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George) and finally the influence he has had on new artists like Adam Guettel and Jason Robert Brown. The subject will conclude with a short performance featuring a sample of the repertoire covered. No former singing or musical experience is necessary.

Learning Outcomes:
  • Develop knowledge of music theatre repertoire and history
  • Develop practical knowledge of safe voice usage.
  • Develop collaborative learning skills
  • Develop respect for the values and principles of ensemble performance.

Continuous: Assessment will be be based on preparation of parts, individual and/or sectional practice and active participation in all rehearsals, classes and performances as directed, worth 30%

Weekly on-line 5 question multiple choice test, drawn from lecture material, worth 30%

Written: the submission of a learning log, detailing the development of understanding of the vocal, musical and acting requirements for 2 pieces of repertoire studied, including challenges encountered and skills developed to overcome them. 1,000 words
Due in week 12, worth 25%

Written: an analysis of a given song, demonstrating understanding of its form and function and significance within the broader context of the show. 500 words, due in week 12, worth 15%

Less than 80% attendance will result in a fail. All assessment components must be passed in order to pass the subject.

Formal: Participation in a final public performance is a hurdle requirement.

Prescribed Texts: None
Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of this subject students will be able to:

  • Exhibit knowledge of the works of Stephen Sondheim, his collaborators and influences.
  • Demonstrate skills in large ensemble singing, including part-singing, harmonies and blend.
  • Demonstrate understanding of principles of safe voice usage
  • Perform selected repertoire to concert standard
  • Participate with ability and self-confidence as a team member of a performing group
Links to further information:
Related Course(s): Bachelor of Fine Arts (Animation)
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Contemporary Music)
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance)
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Film and Television)
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Music Theatre)
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Production)
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Screenwriting)
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Theatre Practice)
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Visual Art)

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