New Book! Vocal Improvisation Games for Singers and Choral Groups

Vocal Games CoverGIA (Chicago) has just published Vocal Improvisation Games for Singers and Choral Groups by me and my co-author Patrice Madura Ward-Steinmann of Indiana University. More than 100 improvisation games for vocalists and vocal groups. Foreword by Patricia Campbell Sheehan. From the Foreword: “Singers, including choral singers and those with a soloist trajectory in progress, as well as those instrumentalists who find themselves drawn to the potential of giving voice to their musical ideas, will benefit from the playful vocal expressions that are invoked here. This collective of “musical gaming” has the potential of releasing singers to a freedom to be musically playful, and of leading them to the joy of discovery of a full rein of musical parameters that can only happen via vocal improvisation.”

You can order a copy from GIA here.

Kind words about the book:

Agrell and Madura have written an extraordinary book that has application for teaching and artistry in a wide range of settings. Improvisation is central to music-making, and Agrell and Madura assist both the uninitiated and the experienced singer and teacher to develop vocal improvisation in an atmosphere of challenge and inspiration. I highly recommend this book to all who value the voice and appreciate its potential as a creative instrument.

–André de Quadros

Professor of Music, Boston University


Although the National Standards for the Arts have been an established foundation of music education for many years now, the use of #3 (improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments still escapes me. Usually, I just ignore it and hope no one notices. How on earth would I include “jazz” in my traditional concert choir of 100 students?   But in my heart as a music educator, I understand the value in training young musicians. The problem is figuring out how to make it happen.

“Improv Games for Vocalists and Choirs” may just be the answer. It is a hands on, how-to guide, with exercises that show that jazz is not the only kind of improvisation, and that it can be incorporated in any kind of music making. The games are typically short and inclusive and can be built into the warm-up routine of any ensemble.

I am looking forward to including many of these ideas in my daily rehearsals this school year and not hiding from standard #3 any longer!

­–Dr. Randi Carp

Choral director, Phoenixville High School, Phoenixville, PA

ACDA Eastern Regional Show Choir Repertoire and Standards Chair


This book is must-have resource for all choral music educators.  The extensive collection of Vocal Games is phenomenal. They are presented clearly and simply, providing teachers and students an excellent entry point to learning improvisation — while also giving more experienced improvisers effective tools for teaching and sharing their creative art.  The authors also clearly demonstrate the importance of choral educators teaching improvisation as a part of a comprehensive musicianship pedagogy that includes both literate and aural traditions.

– Brad Rees, choral & vocal jazz educator; director of the award-winning a cappella ensemble group Up in the Air; Music Dept. Director, Tiffin University


This book should be required reading for every person studying music education, vocal pedagogy, musical performance, elementary education, and/or life-long musicianship. The games provide a natural conduit for individual self-expression rooted in one’s authentic self. With regular incorporation of these games into our classrooms, choirs, and lives, we can delve easily and playfully into our own individual self-expressive beauty, and our instructional repertoire and tools will increase exponentially. Instrumentalists, dancers, and actors could also experience significant artistic growth using this excellent resource. It is a must-have for all vocal pedagogues and lovers of music-making.

Mary L. Cohen, Associate Professor of Music Education, the University of Iowa