Music is a welcome addition to hospital clown performance, as long as volume is controlled and content is family friendly. Children love to sing along, so any songs that they may know are best to use and would encourage participation, which is always good. Clowns do not have to be professional singers to provide this form of entertainment, but it helps if they are not "tone deaf". What we’re aiming for is to present music or singing in a comedic way.
I learned several fun gimmicks from my former clown supervisor, who taught himself to play the ukulele. Here are a few:
1) Knowing All Songs:The clowns walk into a room (after knocking) singing something simple and well known like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. They finish the song, and the clown with the musical instrument (if any) states that they are taking requests. The other clown tells the “audience” that they need not worry because he knows ALL the songs ever written. No matter what song is requested, the clowns begin to sing it (or what they think it’s like if they don’t actually know it) but then go right into a shorter, more pathetic version of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” (or whatever they walked in singing).
Example: the request is “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and the clowns sing: “Someday I’ll wish upon a star and twinkle, twinkle little star how I wonder what you are!” (they end it there, so they can do more...this works well!)
2) The Little Chicken: The same clown made up English words to a Spanish song about a little chicken brought by a former clown, and the chorus was basically “clucking”:
“The little chicken became frie-ends with a rooster and a he-en she said ///bok bok bok bok, bok bok bok bok, bok-bok...”///
As we did this song one night through our entire visit to our large, packed ER we would randomly stop in front of any amused adult attempting to avoid our gaze. We’d stop the song, stare at the person and flap our arms while “clucking” as if to ask “Why aren’t you flapping?” We’d continue this until they joined in (I’ve never seen anyone refuse!). We did this to adults because children flapped with us naturally!
3) Finally, as I mentioned at the end of my “Babies, The Audience” post:
Change The Song: There was a visit in a baby’s room where my supervisor was playing gentle arpeggios on his ukulele. I wasn’t sure what song he would sing, so I waited. He started what sounded like a lullabye, but with these words: “...because I’m all about that base, ‘bout that base, no treble...”!
Feel free to change the music or words of the song to fit the moment. You’ll be amazed at the reaction!
Lucy E. Nunez has been a theatrical performer since 2002 and an improv performer since 2003. She created Nurse Lulu for the Big Apple Circus Clown Care program in 2014. She is now Baptist Children's Hospital first-ever resident clown! For more information please visit: www.sunnybearbuds.wix.com/buds