Improv Game(s) of the Day: 10 Ways to Get in on the Fun

Concert Crowd (Osheaga 2009) - 30000 waiting f...

(Photo credit: Anirudh Koul)

Games for an improv concert that uses the audience. Rehearse one or more of these games with the audience just before your improv concert (or improv piece in a chamber music concert) begins.

#1:  Have them sing a note in unison. Ask them to experiment with going slightly and/or a lot of tune and then back to unison, perhaps inventing a gesture/signal for this so that you can use it during a piece.

#2: Give them one, two, or three noises to make that you cue with a gesture (e.g. hold up one, two, or three fingers), like “ssshhhh” or “[air sound]” or “mmmmm”.

#3: Same as #2, but make it a word that you cue, like “Oh!” or “Rutabaga!” or “Tuxedo” – they all say the word in unison at your gesture. Rehearse this.

#4: Same as #2, but have them say the word at their own pace and volume, not together, like “Rhubarb, rhubarb…”

#5: Same as #2, but use body percussion: stomp, clap, fingersnap, etc.

#6: Have them check pockets and handbags for items that make some kind of noise. Using items selected from this inventory (and perhaps also using objects in the room), have the audience (or selected members of the audience) create a piece. The noises could make an ostinato or two, or be a background for a solo.

#7: Using any of the games above, use a soundpainting “scan” (sweep your arm across the group; those pointed at play, the rest are silent.

#8: You could have individuals solo with their noises (any of those mentioned above) – i.e. repeat them very expressively.

#9: Do some Call and Response where you “call” using your instrument, voice, or percussion and they respond, imitating/echoing with their noises.

#10: Mix any of these. For instance, The cue with one finger means “Shhhh”; two means foot stomp, and three means shout “antidisestablishmentarianism!”