Thursday, April 12, 2012

Musical Storytelling Improv Activity

One fun activity we've tried as a family is telling add-on stories. One person begins the story, then stops after a few sentences, and the next person continues it, until each person has a turn adding their twist to the plot. It's entertaining to see where a few creative minds can make a story end up.
I decided to add a musical twist to this activity to help my students experiment with improvisation at our last group lesson.

  1. Before the lesson, I prepared a sheet with various clipart characters and settings (a princess, a frog, a castle, a racecar, a chef, a sunset, an ice cream cone man etc.) to help spark their imaginations.
  2. We had a brief discussion about how different musical elements (pitch, major/minor scale patterns, dynamics, and rhythm) can help effectively paint a musical picture for the listener.
  3. Then students took turns picking an image to build our musical story around. They played a musical representation of their character or setting while adding a few sentences to the story.
Typically most of them are pretty timid about experimenting with improv at private lessons, so I was surprised that by the end of the story they were all begging to do this activity again.

This could easily be adapted for private lessons between teacher and student to review concepts of major and minor or help a student boost their expressive playing skills.

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