Singing Games for Musical Improv - Our Favourites
The best of the best
Over the 15 years we have been teaching and performing, we have devised, invented and adapted thousands of Musical Improv Games. So many have fallen by the wayside, but every now and then we get a keeper. Here are the Musical Improv Games, exercises and song formats that have refused to go away.
Laugh, sing and laugh again
Singing and laughing is surely one of the most wholesome, life affirming and bonding activities we can take part in. Some exercises and games just lend themselves to being funny. Just a moment of humanity, vulnerability or pure comedy is enough to get a group buzzing and pulling together.
Musical 8 things
The most reliable and versatile exercise we have ever encountered. Musical 8 things started as a simple adaptation of a straight improv exercise. Then came the tune and backing that remained the same for many years - you can listen to and download our musical 8 things backing track. Then we started to leave the tune and style open each time. Then some movement and choreography, and finally stretching the game into an entire genre - staging it like a musical, doing 4, 16, 32, 64 things and using it as our standard pre-show warm up. It is funny, warms up brain and voice and gets a group working together. Thank you musical 8 things, where would we be without you. Read how the game works at our Musical Improv Games - Musical 8 things page
Hush Little Baby
A simple and beautiful adaptation from a real song. This game allows no time for thought, leading people straight into the pure improvisation zone. The place where you just have to open your mouth....and sing. Here is where the things you never wanted to sing about come tumbling out, along with the nonsense, gibberish, profanity and debauchery. Hush little baby never fails to get a group laughing and singing together. Find out how to play at our Musical Improv Games - Hush Little Baby page.
A staple game in our beginners classes and also a great way to remind experienced players how to connect to your scene partner and get to the emotional heart. Gibberish duets allow a group to let go of words and be in the moment. Fantastic in groups of mixed languages and experience, always giving a huge range of results from emotional, dramatic, comedic and downright silly. Find out how to play at our Musical Improv Games - Gibberish Duets page.
Learn and bond
These Musical Improv Games are the ones that make people leave wanting more. That transcend a class and take people on a real journey. Warning - can lead to a serious Musical Improv addiction...
Flock of Birds
In Heather's own words, "This game contains the WHOLE of Improv". How can a simple choreography exercise that takes 30 seconds to explain give so much? Well, in order to boss the game completely, the group will have to be present with raised awareness, sensitive to leading and following, truly improvising rather than inventing, and willing to break down into randomness and build it up again. We have done narrated versions as a performance piece, minimalist and musical theatre versions, silly, sensitive and outrageous versions. Gets the group on their feet and moving, hearts pumping and raises awareness of the whole group. Find out how we play at our Musical Improv Games - Flock of Birds page
Split Scene Tagline song
I can honestly say that this format has delivered many of the most profoundly moving improvised songs I have ever heard. It takes a while to get the hang of the structure but the rewards are tremendous. Lending itself to emotional connection and content, the song allows for complex and deep narratives, beautiful singing and harmony. Find out how to perform it at our Musical Improv Games - Split Scene Tagline Duet page.
Oh Pointing song, where would we be without you. The climax of many a workshop, the pointing song galvanises a group and provides a rich soil for literally any emotion, sentiment or idea to propagate. The most heart-warming, uplifting moments can arise from a pointing song as well as biting satire and pure comedy. Find out how to organise one at our Musical Improv Games - Pointing Song page.
Tell us about your favourite Musical Improv Games
We love to share our discoveries and nothing thrills me more than seeing another group trying out a new game or format and making it their own. If you have a favourite game that has become a trusted friend on stage or in a workshop we would love to hear about it. You can let us know by emailing us or commenting on this post below. Happy Musical Improv-ing and don't be a stranger.
You can see our curated list of Singing games and Musical Improv games on our Musical Improv Games page.
Heather Urquhart and Joe Samuel have over 15 years experience performing, teaching and writing about Musical Improv. Based in the UK they have facilitated workshops and graced stages around the world.