From ‘101 Drama Games and Activities’

Age: 5 to adult
Players: Whole Group
Time: 10-20 minutes
Skills: Storytelling, Sound making, Listening

The group is conducted to create a sound picture or “soundscape” using their voices and bodies.

The leader or one member of the group acts as conductor, whilst the rest of the group are the ‘orchestra’. Using their voices (and body percussion if appropriate!), the group “paints” a sound picture of a particular theme, for example the seaside, a city, a jungle. The leader controls the shape of the piece by raising her hand to increase the volume or bringing it to touch the floor for silence.
(Below you can hear a sound picture created by a group of teachers at one of our Primary Drama INSET courses.)

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  • One way to do this is to allow everybody to choose their own sound – discuss what types of sound might be appropriate before you start.
  • Or, if it is a very large group, or very lively, you can divide the participants into sections, giving a particular sound for each section, then conduct them accordingly.
  • The group should bear in mind contrasting and complementary sounds and try to be aware of natural peaks and troughs in the piece – or the conductor can try to create these.
  • Soundscapes can easily be used as part of an improvisation or performance

If you already know how to make soundscapes (it’s not difficult!), then here’s some ideas for using them online and socially distanced.

Socially Distanced

When there is risk of viral spread, it’s not recommended that students make soundscapes indoors, even socially distanced as the aerosol effect can lead to infection. However, socially distanced outdoors is safer, especially if they are further apart than normal. For full details, see Singing in times of COVID 19


This is obviously safe. Soundscapes online work best with smaller groups as the sound quality deteriorates with more speakers. However you can ask participants to demonstrate their sound ideas individually before they make them together. Students could also work in breakout rooms. Give each group a slightly different task so that when they return, they can share what they have done with the rest of the class. For example, with the theme of a jungle, each group could make the sound of a different part of the jungle. Or if you are using a picture as a stimulus, each group could work on a different part of the picture.

Here is another soundscape, this time from a course on teaching Shakespeare. I took a speech by Caliban (from The Tempest) which talks about strange and magical sounds and asked the group to come up with sounds to put behind the speech. I also got them to echo words from the speech and then we improvised this soundscape. See what you think.

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My young drama group love all your games but their favourite is the sound orchestra – we were all in hysterics during this. They came up with their own original noises too. We had a lightsaber from star wars, a flushing toilet, washing machine and my favourite a bear growl amazing especially for the play we are performing.

Diane Kingsland

This one is made by students on the Literature and Drama for Language Teaching course at NILE Norwich, August 2018 with David Farmer. I guess we should have had some wine glasses too!

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