1. GENERAL HEADING: Language: Sounds, Structure, Meter

2. TITLE OF EXERCISE: "Sound of a Sonnet"

3. GOALS: To develop students' awareness of and sensitivity to the sounds and rhythms of a sonnet, from individual words to phrases to larger movements.

4. NUMBER OF STUDENTS: As few as two or three; no upper limit.


6. CLASS TIME NEEDED: Fifteen minutes


Members of the group sit or stand facing each other, in a circle if there are enough.

Each person in turn reads one line of the sonnet, loudly, taking care not to drop in volume on the final word, so the person opposite in the circle can hear.

Then each person reads two lines, in the same way as above.

Each person reads to a period; the meaning is not discussed, and full attention is placed upon the sound; each person takes a deep breath before beginning and does not pause at commas or the ends of lines.

Again, each person reads to a period, but is free to pause wherever it seems appropriate.

Each person reads one line, exaggerating the rhythm grossly to discover complexities of rhythm, syllabification, and pronunciation.

8. POINTS FOR OBSERVATION/DISCUSSION: Unexpected syllabification; sensitivity to sound and rhythm; the importance of the final words of each line; submersion of rhythm in a reading for sense is like the submersion of rhythm in good jazz singing.

9. SOURCE/REFERENCE: Phillip Joseph, from ACTER (A Center for Theatre, Education and Research at UNC-Chapel Hill)


11. VARIATIONS: The exercise was performed with Sonnets # 1 and #2, but any of the sonnets would work.