Music Games and Activities
I was at a great workshop at the recent Association for Challenge Course Technology Conference put on my Mark Zmudy (“the other Mark Z.”) from the University of Minnesota—Duluth. Mark reminded me of the amazing potential of music activities as trust building and ice breaker activities—and maybe beyond. These kinds of activities are great examples of using what you know to accomplish great things with groups. It is not necessary to play an instrument (see below for other options), but the key is jumping in and trying some things.
Here are some great ice breaker ideas...
Song Tag (from Laurie Frank): Have the group stand in a large circle around you. The game begins when you (or a volunteer) start to sing any song from the center of the circle. People on the outside can “tag in” by stepping into the circle and starting to sing another song similar to, or related in some way to the first. When this happens the first singer steps out into the outside circle. The game continues with individuals “tagging in” like this until you stop the game, the group runs out of songs (unlikely) or the group can not continue because of massive group laughter fits. Note: this activity is best done after a group has a little time together under their belts. It can be loads of fun though.
Rhythm Devils: Have a group member, or the leader, begin a simple rhythm (either with claps and body pats, a vocal “beat box” or with other rhythm instruments). Get the rhythm going and then stop and add in words, phrases or other sounds to augment the rhythm. This is best done by teaching a sound or action to partners or groups of three, going back to the basic rhythm with this new addition and then stopping to add in the next sound or action for the next partnership. You can add in record scratches, funky words and phrases complete with hand actions, etc. Make sure you have a core group, maybe part of the group not completely comfortable doing other things, that can keep the basic rhythm going.
Advanced version: Give partners or small groups time to come up with their own sounds, actions, dances, etc. and add them one at a time into the basic rhythm.
“Singing Together”—Jamming musicians are maybe the ultimate examples of collaboration in action. What better way to learn how to bring collaboration into the real world, in addition to a ton of creative fun, then to learn a song, complete with rhythms, actions, dances, harmony singing, etc. and performance. It helps to have a guitar, banjo or other musical instrument to accompany, but it can be done without as well. Start simple. Resources for great songs can be found in many places (The Manito-wish Song Book being a great resource), but simple songs like 'You are My Sunshine', 'This Train', 'She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain', etc. all work well and can be adapted to a ton of different rhythms and beats and have limitless potential for harmonies and other things.
An additional great resource: “Boomwackers” are colored plastic tubes that come in tuned sets and can be purchased relatively inexpensively. There are many people that use these great rhythm instruments for entire team building and music development workshops. I have found them on Amazon, but they can also be purchased here: http://www.nextag.com/Rhythm-Band/plastic-tube-wholesale/brand-html