Music

One way to improve your song signing is by looking at good examples. When you watch the following videos, look at the signers' facial expressions and the intensity of their movements and signs. Remember that the point is to convey the message of the song, not necessarily every word in every line.

The following photos are links to a few videos. When you watch them, mute the sound if you know the song, and see how much you can understand without listening to the words. Then turn the sound back on and see how the music and signs match.

American Sign Language can be quite poetic. Just as dancers use their bodies to convey a story, so do signers use their hands and faces to express themselves.

You just have to learn, practice and find your groove — and more importantly, have fun!


Bohemian Rhapsody link

"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen is quite a complicated song to sign because the lyrics can be difficult to understand. The lines cannot be signed word-for-word but rather have to be interpreted for the general meaning. Stephen Torrence brilliantly signs his version of the song.

He put the lyrics as captions and also included the "gloss," the names and order of the signs he is performing. You will see how the lyrics and signs do not necessarily match. In addition, notice how he shifts his body from left to right. This is often done to act out two different situations, options or characters, one performing an action and one receiving the action.

Ice Ice Baby link

"Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice - Keith Wann summarizes many of the tips on this website in this video. His goal is to demonstrate the difference between ASL, Signed English and fingerspelling and to show when and how they are used and can be incorporated.

Rap songs often use many metaphors and twisted language, so they cannot be signed word-for-word. Wann begins the song using Signed English, then moves into ASL and then attempts to fingerspell everything. You decide which version is the most clear — I'd bet you'll say ASL.

From this Moment On link

"From This Moment On" by Shania Twain - From the beginning of the song, Keith Wann establishes time by placing a ring on his finger and using that symbol of marriage as the marker for "this moment." Notice how fluid his movements are and how his body and hands flow with the rhythm and length of the words.

Wann signs this song so beautifully. His interpretation of the lyrics is gorgeous, and his passion for the signs enhances their meaning and intensity. He also uses a lot of the words in the vocab list, such as "love," "dream," "heart" and "family."

Honky Tonk Badonkadonk link

"Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" by Trace Adkins - This song allows for a lot of improvisation. Wann is quite creative in his descriptions of the woman in the song, using his hands and puffing his cheeks to indicate the large size. His facial expressions are integral to understanding his signs and provide greater meaning to the song.

Because the actual song has so much spunk and attitude, the ASL version should reflect that same feeling. Wann embodies the singer's voice by putting emotion into his entire body as he signs.