Play a human instrument and learn to communicate with musical gestures!
What you’ll need: One other person
What’s it for?
This activity is a small funny game for two people. It develops wordless communication, empathy, relationships, and is fun and playful! It works best when the people are very comfortable with each other and don’t mind making silly sounds!
Notice how you’re feeling right now. Close your eyes and notice what’s going on inside your mind and body.
How are you feeling?
What are you thinking?
How does your body feel?
First of all think of all the different ways people play musical instruments and what this looks like! You might want to look on the internet to get some ideas, but common movements are to pluck, stroke, press, blow, and strike.
Also, notice how the movement is different when instrumentalists play louder, softer, smoother, or spikier. Are the movements bigger? More exaggerated?
When you’ve investigated this, assign roles in the game. One of you is the human instrument player and the other is the human instrument!
This is very important: there is NO TOUCHING in this game!
The human instrument either stands silently or sings a continuous note.
The human instrument player then mimes different ways to play on the human instrument WITHOUT TOUCHING or speaking.
The human instrument responds with changes in their vocal sounds which reflect the actions of the player - jumpy sounds for spiky movements, loud sounds for strong movements, etc.
When you’ve had enough, swap over so both people can have a turn.
Extra Activity: Maybe try to organise some sequences of music and movement together and then do a performance for somebody in your household or a friend over the internet. You could even make a human instrument orchestra with several family members or friends standing in a row. Experiment with one or more players, if there are more people in your household.
When you’ve finished, spend a moment reflecting on the activity and ask yourself the following questions:
How clear were your playing gestures to the instrument? How could you make this clearer?
When you were the instrument, how easy was it to understand what sounds to make?
What kind of music did you make?
How did it feel being the player and the instrument? Which did you prefer? Why?
This activity is about communicating your intentions without words. It needs sensitivity to try to understand the player’s intention, and helps to develop empathy.
Take a moment to notice how you are feeling at the end of this activity. Did you discover anything surprising? What can you take away to make you feel better about yourself from this activity?
If you would like to, share something about your experience with this activity with someone you live with! Ask the person who looks after you to send us an email if you have any questions or comments about the activity, or would like to send us any pictures (email@example.com). Don't forget to subscribe for more fun CAT activities!
Created by Ian Grundy © April 2020
Creative Arts Used: Drama, Music
Psychological Areas Explored: Communication, Relationships, Play
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These activities could be done by children of all ages, but some may need the support of their parent or carer to read the instructions or complete the activity safely.
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