Contributed by Julia Sirna-Frist and Rachael Schefrin
A community-building game where students collaborate to make a song or soundscape. As a community, we have to listen to each other to figure out how to add our unique sound to the creation. Everyone’s contributions build to create a community soundscape.
Directions – Beginner Version
- “Today we are going to create an original song that has never been heard before. First, I need everyone to come together in a tight circle and, if you feel comfortable, close your eyes. When it’s your turn, you will make a sound that can be repeated. It can be voiced, it can be a clap, it can be a stomp. Whatever you want! Just make sure you can do it over and over again.”
- Move around the circle, indicating randomly whose turn it is, to build the song until everyone is involved in the sound collage.
- You can tap students’ shoulders, point to them, use conducting signals or a baton, open hand, closed hand, ASL signs for go and stop, signs that have symbols for go and stop.
- Indicate it’s time to stop, slowly diminishing the song until one sound is heard. Final stop creates the end of the song!
- PRO TIP: Record the song and play it back so the students can hear what they created.
- Reflection: Play the song back to the students and ask for feedback. “What surprised you about hearing the song?” “What was it like to create something from nothing?” “What would you do differently next time?” “What did you hear?” “What would you do differently next time?”
- This game can also be played with many rounds and offer students a chance to conduct.
Directions – Advanced Version
- Pick one student/teacher to leave the classroom. Their job will be to guess where they are based on the sounds that they hear in the soundscape.
- The other students will decide on a location that they will all create through sound: library, park, beach, movie theater, etc.
- After a location is chosen, students will close their eyes, imagine what sounds they would hear in that location, and pick a sound. Students will quietly raise their hand once they have chosen their sound. If their sound is the same as another student’s sound, simply tell them when it is their turn to join the soundscape to join in with the student who has the same sound, or they can each have their moment.
- If you have the time, ask the class to practice their sounds with you as their conductor.
- Conductor hand gestures: hand going up – make your sound louder; hand going down – make your sound quieter; pointing to a student – start your sound; hands making an X to student – stop your sound.
- The student/teacher is invited back into the room and asked to lie down or sit in the center of the circle with their eyes closed (if comfortable).
- The teaching artist will start the soundscape by using their conductor hand gestures, adjusting students as they go, until all students are sharing their sound at the same time. Play with volume throughout. Fade the soundscape by conducting the students to stop their sound one at a time.
Transition into Activity
Try doing this game after a warm-up while students are still in a circle. This game is helpful in building community because we all work together to make the song and we have to listen to each other to figure out how to add our unique voice to the creation.
Possible intro for advanced version: “We are going to take ______________ (student/teacher) out of the school through sound. Where are we going?”
Transition out of Activity
Play the song back to the students and ask for feedback. “What surprised you about hearing the song?” “What was it like to create something from nothing?” End by having everyone take a deep breath and give themselves a pat on the back for creating new music!
Or for the advanced version: “Travel back to your desk using your sound to propel you.”
Standing or sitting in a circle.
- Beginner version: The whole class practices making a variety of sounds all together before beginning, to become confident making noise, and to have options they can pick from later during the game. These options could be written on the board as well.
- Advanced version group brainstorm: Once a location is established, the TA and students will come up with several sounds together to help generate ideas. (Helpful prompts: “Who are the people you see? What sounds do they make?” or “Are there animals? What sounds do they make.” Make sure they get the whole picture.)
Tools and Materials:
- Have sensory tools on hand as auditory supports.
- Have visual aids for “go” and “stop,” and music elements on hand as needed.
- Visual Vocabulary Cards: Music, Conductor, Rhythm, Tempo.
- Students can participate by adding a sound made with their voice or body, noise made with a prop, or word to the soundscape.
- Students can make one sound in pairs or small groups.
- Have objects or instruments on hand that could be used to add a sound.
- Students could act as the conductor or as the recorder, rather than participating in making the sounds.
Possible Roles for Classroom Professionals
- Sound maker!
- Initial/model conductor or guesser
- Side coaching and quietly narrating to support students who feel frozen and can’t think of a sound.
- Scribe for sound options from brainstorm.
Adjustments for Remote Instruction
All the cameras can be off and students can self-select to join the sound or the TA can private-message the students when to come in and out of the soundscape.
Advanced Version: Ask the classroom teacher to leave their desk/screen for a certain amount of time; when performing the soundscape, unmute and call on students rather than pointing to them.