Do you know any songs from American musicals? 

Musicals are a big part of American culture. Singing these songs is also a lot of fun – on top of being great for vocabulary and pronunciation. 

As an English teacher in New York, I’ve often helped interested students discover English through Broadway musicals. 

During the pandemic, we’ve been able to watch taped performances and soundtracks on YouTube. 

Now, with musicals set to re-open on Broadway this September, I thought it would be a good time to highlight songs that offer good pronunciation tips too. 

If you’re in New York, stop by the well-known and much-loved Marie’s Crisis Café (pictured here; masks still required) in the Village. Gather around the piano and sing your heart out! 

Wicked (“Defying Gravity”)

It’s time to try defying gravity 
I think I’ll try defying gravity

The long “I” /aiy/ sound in TIME /taiym/, TRY /traiy/, and DEFY /d’faiy/ is very pronounced. Try singing these words with your tongue in your jaw. Feel the “y” sound that links to the /aiy/ sound in each word. 


Aladdin (“A Whole New World”)

I can show you the world ….

A whole new world … 

The word “world” is repeated several times throughout the song. The r+l combination (also in “girl”) has a subtle slide from errrr to uuld, sounding like WER-ul-d. Take the tip of your tongue and point it to the back of your mouth. Yes, it’s hard – but it is possible with practice. 

Hamilton (“My Shot”)

I am not throwin’ away my shot
I am not throwin’ away my shot

The short “o” sound in “shot” is pronounced like “ah” or /a/. In fact, the “o” in “shot” is the same sound as the “a” in “father.” Other “short O” words in this song include “scholarship,” “college,” “probably,” “astonish,” “holler,” and “knowledge.”  

My Fair Lady (“The Rain in Spain”)

The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain
The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain!
I think she’s got it! I think she’s got it!
The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain!