Listening & Sounding Games
These Listening & Sounding Games are fun and easy games for two or more people and will actively engage participants in a process of deeper listening and playful sounding with the voice.
They are inspired by and adapted from theatre games, vocal improv exercises and my work in traditional Balkan singing. Like many folk singing traditions from around the world, traditional Balkan folk singing is an oral tradition; the songs, their stories and the ways in which they are sung were passed down from one generation to the next, learned much in the same way that one first learns to speak: by listening, imitating and repeating.
I discovered that these three elements were essential to the development of musicality and presence in my singers and so it is I began implementing these games, drawing from three forms of singing found in many oral singing traditions: unison singing, the drone, and call-and-response.
These games be used in any setting – from the classroom, to the community centre, to the choir rehearsal. I have mostly used them as warm-ups, but they can easily be used as stand-alone exercises, incorporated into primary or secondary school lesson plans, or even used as springboards to new possibilities for interpretation, improvisation and performance.
The games are an excellent tool to get non-singers to sound, but they are also very effective for experienced singers who might otherwise be more accustomed to singing from notated music or lyric sheets, to go beyond the page and into their sensing bodies resulting in a more deeply felt and embodied sounding that can be carried over into their other music-makings.
- deeper listening
- whole-body participation
- heightened senses
- increased awareness
- ease, confidence and joy in sounding with the voice
- increased musicality and presence
- deepened relationships amongst group members
- a greater sense of connection and ensemble
You’ll find downloadable colouring-page instructions to each game below.
Print them out, colour them, and share them with your groups!
This game really gets people listening – beyond the ears. Encourage participants to use their eyes to see, their ears to hear, and their bodies to feel.
CALL AND RESPONSE
This game encourages people to listen, imitate, explore the voice and gain confidence in their singing. By incorporating gesture, this game is very playful and fun for young and old alike. Variation: Use it as an ice-breaker! Have individuals sing their name with an accompanying gesture, which the group sing and gesture back! Up for a challenge: Have one individual sing the call, and another sing a different response. This game can easily turn into an improvised song!
No time to think! This game will get people out their heads and into their bodies.
There are so many possibilities with this game! Some ideas: incorporate it into a performance; give directions for different tempi or dynamics in the walking/sounding; have participants walk silently and hum when still; try it without walking, sitting with eyes closed…
This game is great to begin work on timbre, intonation, and listening and sounding with the whole body,
This theatre game lends itself well to sounding with the voice. Develops listening, presence, whole-body awareness and a sense of connection. Variation: Instead of facing one another, try it with two singers seated with backs together touching. Begin by breathing together. Turn the breath into voiced sighs then into sounding.