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Use the Machine Game to Warm Up Your Students

written by: Beth Taylor • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 1/17/2012

"The Machine" is a nice group warm-up, and an especially versatile activity. It can be used as a game in drama class, a fun vocal warm-up in singing class (in addition to other warm-ups), an ice breaker in youth groups, and an exercise to prime children to work cooperatively before any class.

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    The Machine lends itself to use with and without music, with and without vocalization, and with and without physical contact among students.

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    Let the Games Begin

    As a drama game, start The Machine with simple movements. One volunteer goes in front of the class and begins a repetitive movement of her choice, for example, she may bend her right knee up and down repeatedly.

    As each student is ready, he will join the machine with his own movement. After every student has become a part of the machine, wait a minute to let the machine "work" and then end the exercise (and do it again if you want to.) The Machine is a simple and easy way to nurture some group awareness and sense of cooperation in any group of students.

    The next level is to let the students have physical contact with each other in The Machine. So, if one student is raising and lowering his arm, the next student may take his hand and swing along with him. Adding this element to The Machine allows a sense of trust to develop among the group.

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    Movement and Sound

    Feel free to bring music to class and play it while the students create The Machine. The motivations they find in the music will broaden their repertoire of movements.

    If your class is working on a skit or a play, you can perform The Machine with both movement and sound. As each student joins The Machine, she chooses a simple movement and a simple vocalization, for example a high pitched "bee bah, bee ba, bee bah," or a low pitched "ow, ow, ow." This adds another valuable dimension to the activity. The students must now find two ways to complement the others in The Machine, instead of only one.

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    After warming up your choral students, try this game before launching into rehearsal.

    Let one volunteer stand in front of the group and repeat any vocalization of their choice (ah, ah, ah, for example.) One by one, the other students choose to join the machine by standing next to their classmates and making their own repeating vocalizations.

    They may well seem nervous and feel silly the first time, but if you do this a few times, or during more than one session, it will be interesting to see how they start responding to each other.

    You may also notice an increased group awareness and sense of collaboration.