Fun Collaborative Choir Games
By Don Frost, Jr.
Who said choir practice should be boring? Occasionally have a fun activity and keep the practice time lively! Here’s some ideas to consider from various Choir leaders all over.
Knots is a good one. Break the kids into groups of about 8 or 10. Everyone holds hand with two other people (in other words I can’t have both my right and left hand holding onto the same person)You may not hold hand with the person immediately to your left or right. This creates a huge knot.
The goal is to untie the knot without letting go by stepping over and ducking under etc. At the end you will either have a circle, or a figure 8. It’s ususally a
If you want to try it a second time, do it with no talking.
Holly Miller – Issaquah, Washington
One fun activity–have them make a particular sound (maybe with their eyes
closed–an instrument, an animal, etc.) and they must move around and find the
others who are making the same sound. Once they get in their “groups,” jump
into an ostinato activity.
We did a scavenger hunt one year…..they had to find things like:
* find someone whose father is a Dr.
* find someone who is the oldest child
* find someone who has two brothers
* find someone whose first name is…
Did it matter if the names were right? Not really but it did get them mixing
and it went very quickly.
How About This?
Cut 35 (or half # of kids) squares, maybe 4″ each, from colored (recycled?) paper. Rubber stamp something right in the center, then cut each piece in half, through the picture. Hand out a piece to each kid (certainly not in order!) and give a limited time for everyone to find the person with the other half. Cuts can be on the diagonal, too. (I have used up a lot of old library file cards with this game.)
I like to start the first day of school learning names. This is from “Name Games” by Doug Goodkin: start a steady beat, encourage the students to join you speaking you name. Cue the end of your turn by a gesture or inflection (getting louder, softer, hi-low). Repeat around the circle until all students have had a turn. Variations: repeat names in 4 beat phrase, find students whose names could fit the same rhythm as yours.
Make a circle, one person (teacher) starts the yarn, by holding on to it and answering a question or statement. The 1st person tosses the ball of yarn to the next and they answer the question. Then 2nd person must hold on to the yarn, then toss it to a 3rd person. At the end, you should have everyone holding onto a piece of the yarn so it looks like a web. If you want you can bounce a beach ball on top and explain that we all must work together at our highest potential to make a successful choir. Choose certain students to let go of the string and see how the ball drops.
I hope this helps!
Kelly Ballard – USD 349 Stafford Schools
We have just hosted our Dalcroze Easter workshop in Queensland, Australia (long way from most of you!). We offered a ‘Choral’ elective and opened one of the sessions with the ‘Whizz’ game. It’s a great ice breaker and good for getting people moving and making sounds. You may have heard of it but I’ll describe it for those who haven’t.
Participants stand in a circle facing inwards. The first person ‘passes’ the sound “whizz!” to the person on his/her right with a sweeping gesture with both hands. The action and sound continues to be passed around the circle. Any person may decide to pass the sound and gesture in the opposite direction.
Add other sounds and gestures to the game as each one is performed with ease.
“Diddly-dee” = the sound is passed to the next but one person to the left or right with a high action with both hands reaching over the head of the person to be missed!
“Zoom” – the sound is zoomed across the circle with a forward action of the arms and body.
“Boing!” – the person receiving the ‘zoom’ can, if they do not want to take the zoom, put up a shield with the arms in front of the body. The person sending the ‘zoom’ then has to quickly think about what action and sound to do next.
Hope you can understand my description. Have fun!
Paula Melville-Clark – President Dalcroze Old Australia
I host a festival with around 200 kids each June and we always start out with games of some sort. Here are some ideas:
Name tag mix-up…Give every kid a name tag that’s not theirs then set them loose to find their name tag on another kid. They should be printed in BOLD and stuck to an obvious place like their forehead of front center of their shirt. I also put each kid’s choir name on the tags so that they can ask around to get rid of their tag as well.
Any large outdoor games – relays work really well.
Signature scavenger hunts – give each kid a list of characteristics that they need to find people to match up to. When they find a person who has this or that, they must get their signature on their page. First person/team to collect enough signatures wins. Be sure to go through the winning list and call up everyone who signed to double check that they really fit the description. List items can include: person wearing red sock, person with a part in the middle of their hair, a choir director, person who traveled from such and such place, someone who is 9 years old, someone who has a birthday in December, etc. Both the signature collecting and the final call-up of people can be fun!
Stephanie Charbonneau – Artistic Director Cappella Girls’ Chorus Port Orchard, WA
1 Personal Scavenger Hunt: Make a list of 10-15 items that kids have to find from other kids, and a line beside it for the possessor to sign. See example pasted below. You can use all sorts of things. Maybe specify finding a kid from a different choir and add the choir’s name with the kid’s signature. (Put whatever spin on it you like) No one can sign twice on any one’s sheet. The one who gets their sheet filled first gets a prize–or the
one who gets the most filled.
2 Musical terms or composer’s names pinned to the back of each person. They
have to guess what it is, and they do that by asking other people questions.
People Hunt For Kids
Your Name ___________________________
1 ________________________ Someone who lives in (town or state)
2 _________________________ Someone who plays a brass instrument
3 _________________________ Someone who has blue eyes
4 _________________________ Someone who plays the piano
5 __________________________ Someone who is 8 years old.
6 __________________________ Someone who has an older brother.
7 __________________________ Someone who out of state this summer
8 __________________________ Someone who travels 30 minutes to get here.
9 __________________________ A boy who plays soccer
10 __________________________ A boy with blond hair
I’ve used a game called Red Ball with the younger end of this age group. In a circle (circles), one child tosses an imaginary (red) ball to another saying “red ball, [name].” The recipient catches it and says “red ball, thank you” then tosses it to another child. They need to remember kids’ names to play. If they get going well, introduce a second, “blue” ball going at the same time, etc. With a good group, I think you might have 3-4 “balls” of various colors going at once.
Christine Hoffman [now-defunct] Manhattan Lutheran Children’s Choir
Never underestimate the ability of children. They can surprise you when presented with a challenge!)
Polly Murray – Founder/Artistic Director Children Song of New Jersey
Dear Listers: Compilation of Music Games Original queery:
We are most interested in making good singing easier and more fun. Any of you fine folks out there who use or know of games and fun techniques to learn music reading or better singing practices, please let your voice be heard. We wish to spread the joyous word. You may reply to the list or to me personally. I will compile all the pertinent
replies so all may benefit. Pete and Ray want to know. Thanks in advance. Stay Tuned.
Ray Miller – nextep(a)sacoriver.net
There’s a book called “A Galaxy of Games for the Music Classroom” by Margaret Athey and Gwen Hotchkiss published by Parker Pub. Co. Not bad at all. Very well organized into age ranges, type of focus, etc.
Josh – firstname.lastname@example.org
I teach grades 6-8 choral music in Flower Mound, Texas.
One game my students play and really enjoy is “Solfege Bingo” by Cheryl lavendar. They especially like playing for prizes (candy, stickers, etc.) I don’t cut out game pieces, I just photocopy the sheets and have them mark each square with a different symbol for each game. We can usually play 4-5 games using one board
Another solfege game is what I call “Mystery Song”. I show them the hand signs for a mystery song and they have to guess what it is without hearing it. It helps to warm up with solfege first (especially any patterns found in the song). If they absolutely can’t get it, I give them the first pitch or two and keep adding pitches until they get it. It also helps if they do the signs with you. This is a great way to develop an inner ear.
“Mozart” is a card game that works well with smaller classes. I have four decks and I can play with 16-20 students. It doesn’t teach a lot about rhythm, but every little bit helps.
Another “game” we play is “American Idol.” We choose the judges and go through acceptable comments and students sing solos or in small groups. I don’t really care about vocal quality on these days because the goal is to build their confidence and have them sing by themselves. Along those same lines, we have a karaoke day at the end of every six weeks. I have a number of cd’s and students are allowed to bring
school appropriate cd’s. These are the games I use most.
Valerie Middleton – email@example.com – firstname.lastname@example.org
Singing In The Choir
We have a piece of music called Singing in the Choir by Donna Rhodenizer. It pokes fun at all the parts in an SATB choir. The Tenors get the lead for once. Doesn’t really teach music reading but it does give a fun perspective to Singing in the Choir. You can read the lyrics on our web site at this link
Better still we could send you a complimentary copy for your perusal. Good luck with your search.
Andy Duinker – Red Castle Publishing – www.redcastlepublishing.com
You’ve Got Rhythm
I’d like to recommend my book, co-written with pianist Joan Harkness, You’ve Got Rhythm: Read Music Better by Feeling the Beat. Fun and more effective than I had ever imagined when we wrote it. Available at http://www.fleap.com.
Anna Dembska – Composer, soprano, and Director
Schoodic Summer Chorus Flying Leap Music – http://www.fleap.com
Perform any scales/exercises SILENTLY. Change from silent to aloud back to silent on a signal. Helps conductor response and keeps people mentally alert, and it’s fun!
I’ll be looking for the compilation. Thanks in advance.
Who’s Line Is It Anyway
Well, if you have watched the popular show, “Who’s line is it anyway” you will know what I’m talking about when I describe the “Hoe Down” segment of the show. I teach High School and I had kids draw names in pairs at random of another classmate. They then have to make up a verse of the Hoe Down about the other kid. It’s a getting to know you exercise because they may have to interview the other person a bit before they come up with one. Each verse has to contain at least 3 things about the person and they have to be nice. They get up in pairs to present their songs which I have pre-recorded on the Roland. I modeled this for them about several students to get them jump started and here is one of the verses:
“Let’s talk about Miss Meghan She really is a gem, I’ve had her now for four years, And loved each one of them. Vivacious and Loquatious, She’s always in a whirl, Which make our Miss Passernig The choir fun time girl!”
I teach elementary music. Every year I play the human note game to teach the spaces and lines of the staff. Start by creating a giant staff on the floor with tape. The spaces need to be large enough for the students to stand in. devide the students up in to groups of seven. Give each child in each group a letter of the music alphabet (a-g). The students then place themselves on the space or line that corresponds to their letter. The first group to properly place themselves wins.
“Who’s Line is it anyway?” is a great game for the end of the year when there is nothing left to do. We play it in my theatre 1 class and it really can show you just how creative us students really are.
For a church choir – split them into groups, then have them re-write the words to a hymn tune.
This can be funny!
Play Encore!!! Encore is a musical game where players (team or individuals) must sing a phrase of a song that contains a particular word or subject. It is a lot of fun and everyone enjoys it. Divide the class into two groups. Assign someone as timer, and another as referee. (There can be some subjectivity to it.) Each team is given a turn and when one team fails to give a response within the time limit, the other team advances. The responses can be hilarious. It also promotes memory recall.
This article ‘Fun Collaborative Choir Games’ compiled by Don Frost Jr. is excerpted from www.choralnews.org the December 2007 newsletter.