Several years ago my good friend and colleague, Melanie, decided to start a Festival of Choirs, an international high school choral festival, at The American International School of Muscat, Oman (TAISM). www.taism.com  The country of Oman is located near the Persian Gulf and United Arab Emirates.  What an ho…

Several years ago my good friend and colleague, Melanie, decided to start a Festival of Choirs, an international high school choral festival, at The American International School of Muscat, Oman (TAISM). www.taism.com  The country of Oman is located near the Persian Gulf and United Arab Emirates.  What an honor it was for me to be asked to director this Festival in it’s 2nd year. It was an opportunity of a lifetime.  Not only did I have to be careful to pick literature for all levels of singers, we knew we would have approximately 150 singers representing 35 nationalities.  One of the first things Melanie and I brainstormed was working some fun “getting to know” you activities into the schedule.  We knew with the diversity of these young singers, taking time to build community would be essential. The Festival is now recognized as one of the best choir festivals in the region and is in it’s 13th year.  My colleague, Melanie, is still at the helm at the school.

The following are the group activities we used throughout our two days working together.  It was wonderful to see these singers. strangers when they arrived, come to respect and learn about each other.  Did all these activities affect how the choir worked together and how they sounded? Well, “you betcha by golly” (my german roots coming through…).  You can never assume just because young people sing together in a festival situation, they will automatically understand and respect each other.  We must be intentional in breaking down barriers.  Are we always successful? No.  But I can guarantee we succeed more than we fail. These activities work better when singers spend more than two days together.  You can do quick “getting to know you” activities with one day festivals but finding time can be a challenge.

Some of these activities have been included in other writings.  I’ve also included these group building sheet as an PDF attachment.

Group building activities for Oman Choral Festival

With all these activities, it is important that the student treat each other with respect.

Getting To Know You – Level 1 

5 Minute Fling

Put students into groups- 36 students in each group.

Have one facilitator (adult) per group.

Within each group, have each person find a partner they do not know. This is a timed activity:In five minutes find out the following about each other –

a.Where is your person from?

b.One fact about their family.

c.What do they like to do for fun?

d.What do they want to be when they grow up?

Sit in a large circle (there will be 4 or 5 circles) and each person will stand and introduce their partner by sharing the above information.

Camera

With the same partner, each person take turns being the camera and photographer.The photographer has the “camera” (the partner) close his/her eyes and lead them to something they want to take a “picture” of.When the photographer gets the camera where he or she wants, then he/she squeezes the camera’s shoulders and the camera takes a picture by opening and closing his/her eyes quickly.Take 3 different pictures…The object is for the “camera” to guess what are the pictures of…I will have to demonstrate.It’s fun to see how creative these kids can get.

Working Together – Level 2 

Commercials

Within the group of 36 students, break them into groups of 9 students in each group.The object is to have the kids come up with a singing commercial that touts the benefits of singing in a choir… or “why should you join choir”.These are the guidelines:

1.You must use one of the songs from the festival.

2.You must rewrite the words to convince someone to join choir or why singing in a choir is a wonderful thing.

3.Your “jingle” can only be 2 minutes long.

4.Choreography, however big or small, is a MUST.You may act out your commercial if you want…

5.You will have 30 minutes to write and practice your “jingle”.Everyone must participate.Everyone must submit one idea.

6.You will perform for your group of 36 students.

7.You will then vote on which group had the best commercial and then that group will perform for the entire festival choir.

Unravel The Circle

Using the same group of 36, find 6 new people to form a small group with.Stand in a tight circle…shoulder to shoulder and grab the hands with two separate people in the circle.Without letting go, untangle your group so that you have one big circle.You should end up standing by the people you are holding hands with.

Trust Walk

You may use the same partners and the same groups.I would suggest at least the same group.

You’ll need 75 pieces of material for blindfolds… it doesn’t work well to close eyes… the kids want to look…

Find a partner.Each of you will take your turn 1.leading your blindfolded partner around an instructed area for 10 minutes;change and now you are 2. the person that is blindfolded and lead around by your partner.

After 20 minutes, you gather back in your group of 36 and talk about what you discovered about being the leader and then what it was like to be the person that was blindfolded.What can you learn from this?Can you apply this to choir and teamwork (and leadership)?

The purpose of this activity to help students understand what it is like to be on both sides of the “coin” when it comes to being a follower versus being a sensitive leader within their peer group.

 

FUN, FUN, FUN!!!!

Hurricane

Use 2 groups of 18 people in a large circle sitting on chairs.Have one less chair than the number of students.Everyone sit, except one.The person standing should make a general statement that might describe several people.Then he or she must say “MOVE”.When everyone moves, the person standing tries to get a chair.RULE:students must not move to the chairs on either side of them.Example of statements:Those who are wearing white shoes, is wearing jeans, has blue eyes, etc.Yell “hurricane” if you want everyone to change chairs.

Paper Snow

Use the same group of 36 and then break these down into groups of 6, 7 or 8 students.You will need 30 sheet of scratch paper for each small group.Each group stands in a circle near other groups.Crumple up the paper and leave on the floor inside the circle of students.When given the signal to go, try to put your paper into the groups around you.At the end of a given time… blow the whistle… the group with the least amount of paper in their circle win.This is fun to watch… paper flying everywhere

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