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Ventriloquism Basics

Much like puppetry, ventriloquism is an entertaining art form that has become very useful in teaching children. Having your knee pal friend help you tell the story or act it out adds a whole new dimension to learning!

Can Anyone Actually Learn It?

Many people never attempt to become a ventriloquist because they assume it is just too hard. On the contrary, it is quite a simple concept that can easily be mastered. I’m not sure I would have thought about using ventriloquism in ministry until I met Rev. Dave Winchell. I noted the huge response and immediate rapport that he and his dummy, Andre Leroy had with the children, not to mention the effectiveness of helping the children soak up the story!

Tricks of the Trade

The secret of ventriloquism lies in the relaxed position of your lips and the substitution of a few letters in the alphabet. Start with a gentle smile with your lips about a ½ inch apart. You can easily say words like, ‘hi,’ ‘hello,’ ‘cool,’ and ‘hallelujah.’ But you’ll find it more challenging to say something like ‘boy,’ ‘parents,’ or ‘Bible.’ Here’s where you substitute other letters for the labial letters of the alphabet (letters in which you must use your lips). You’ll need to substitute ‘B’ with ‘D’, ‘F’ with ‘TH’, ‘M’ with ‘N’, ‘P’ with ‘T’, and ‘V’ with a hard ‘TH’. Try saying ‘box’ using the letter ‘d’. It may not sound quite right to begin with, but practice will help. The more you practice, the more you will learn how to adjust your tongue on the substituted letters to make them sound correct to you. Also, remember that hearing words in the context of a sentence makes a big difference in what your audience thinks they hear as well. A helpful trick for the beginning ventriloquists is to replace more difficult words with easier ones to pronounce. You may want to substitute ‘Bible’ with ‘God’s Word’ or ‘people’ with ‘everyone.’

Starting a Routine

An easy way to start a routine is to begin with a situation my dummy has experienced to lead into a similar situation in the story. He may have experienced some very unpleasant discipline after being caught lying. This leads straight into the discipline God gave to Ananias and Sapphira. Having my dummy experience a situation that is clearly dealt with in God’s Word also helps the children know that God’s Word is relevant to them.

Adding a Funny Bone

Humor plays a huge role in a good ventriloquist routine. Pick up some joke books. While rehearsing your story, make note of particular objects, people, places, and situations that are mentioned. Many of these will be good cues for adding jokes. For example, you may want to tell some fish jokes during the story of Jonah and the Great Fish or a riddle about a king when talking about Nebuchadnezzer.

Use your imagination and talents to add other elements of interest to your routine. If you’re on the musical side, do a little singing with your dummy. My dummy and I have often performed duets together as a part of our routine.

© by Rev. Gary Linn
Children’s Ministry Today

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  1. […] lies in the relaxed position of your lips and the substitution of a few letters in the alphabet.  Click here if you would like to read the full post called, Ventriloquism […]

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