Exercises and workshops

Staff Training Visby

The following exercises were executed by the cross-arts working group during a staff training in Visby, Sweden in May 2017. The members brought an exercise to share and execute with the group as an example of their practice. The exercises served as a gateway to creative collaboration through listening and activating perception of being together in a space. The aim was to find common ground as a starting point for the collaboration, avoiding each member sticking to their usual working methods and field-specific skills.

Christina Molander

To strengthen the listening.
Recorder (dictaphone, or other audio recorder such as iphone or ..)
Note Opportunity.

Where: Preferred in nature but also works in urban environment.

1. Turn on the recorder.
2. Slowly walk for 10 minutes.
3. Listen, memorize.
4. Write down all the sounds you remember when you are coming back.
5. Listen to the recording.
6. What was the difference? What did you miss?
7. Repeat the trip without the recording.
8. What did you hear now? What was the difference?

Authentic Movement
Karl Ágúst Þorbergsson

Participants pair up. One is in the role of a mover and the other serves as the his/her protector. The mover arranges him/herself in a comfortable position on the floor with eyes closed. When the mover is ready he/she starts to follow his/her instinctive movements; to let the body decide what and how to move. The eyes are to be closed the whole time of the exercise. The protector makes sure that the mover does not harm him/herself or others in the room and only touches or stops the mover if there is real danger of anyone getting hurt. No words can be exchanged between the mover and the protector. The mover should follow all his impulses and can use his/her whole body and voice. If there are others in the room there is a possibility to explore the relationship between them. The aim of the exercise is to awaken the authentic movement of the body and to follow impulses that arise. The exercise should last at least 10 minutes, preferably longer. After the given time, the protector takes the role of the mover and vice versa. 

Listening to the Environment
Berglind María Tómasdóttir

The workshop revolves around listening and responding to each other and the environment. It consists of two parts. The former part is dedicated to Pauline Oliveros’ Tuning Meditation and the latter to an exercise in listening to the environment.

Part I
Tuning Meditation
"Inhale deeply; exhale on the note of your choice; listen to the sounds around you, and match your next note to one of them; on your next breath make a note no one else is making; repeat. Call it listening out loud."

Part II
An exercise dedicated to listening to the environment.
Go out for a walk.
Make a list of at least five sounds that are of interest to you, record them and describe them orally — by writing down the description.

Cross-Arts Exercises
Niels Vermeulen


Everybody takes his phone
walk around the room
take 10 pictures of details of the room
be aware to take pics with different colours and shapes.

Choose one picture
put the phones on a table, showing the picture
turn the lights off
watch the tableau of lights coming from the phones.

Connect a tone to your picture
sing it until your phone dims the light.

Have a conversation about the piece
make variations in structure or sound if needed.

drawing/words/visual art

A. Give every participant 100 sticky notes. Stick all the notes somewhere in the room. You have 2 options:

1. Stick it deliberately. Make shapes: lines / forms / etc)
2. Stick it / throw it without purpose. So the post its will stick somewhere unexpected.

B. After all the sticking, look at the room. Reflect on what is an interesting spot.

C. With calligraphy pens, start noting words or drawings on the post its. Don’t think to much, play with the connections that the post its make with the room.
After a while also react on the other written words.

D. Reflect on the drawings and words. What is an interesting spot?

E. Choose your favourite spot and write a short poem that connects to your favourite spot.

Visby Workshop
Sigurður Halldórsson

The workshop exercise is an experiment with combining several exercises that are published on the NAIP website in the Bank of Resources for Leading and Guiding.

Stage one (about 15 minutes):

  • Participants stand in a circle.

  • Each participant names his/her favourite food round the circle.

  • A slow pulse is set with the feet (walking on the spot or stamping).

  • Then the task is given to make the name of the favourite food into a clear rhythmic pattern.

  • A linear rhythm is created by adding the patterns gradually, repeating as much as necessary until the group has internalised the complete line.

Stage two (about 15 minutes):

  • The group is divided into three smaller groups.

  • Each group gets the task to transform the rhythmic patterns of the favourite food of those people who are in the group into a body-percussion riff. The riffs should be in the same order as the people were standing in the initial group; as a partial of the original line of stage one. One group has to fit it within 4 beats, one group in 5 beats and one group has 6 beats to fill. This is done by adding short rests if necessary, thereby adding a new twist to the rhythmic patterns.

  • The groups separately rehearse their body-percussion riffs and then the groups perform them to each other.

Stage three (about 10 minutes):

The groups come back together and play the riffs at the same time, repeating the riffs until all groups reach first beat in their riff together. This happens on beat number 61.

Possible development of this material can be from each stage, using the long line from stage one and creating a melody, even a canon or adding harmony and lyrics.

Stage two can be developed as three different sections using instruments at hand or voices, and the polyrhythm of stage three can be transformed into instrumental or vocal sections.

Dietmar Flosdorf

The idea of the workshop “Listening” is to make participants consciously aware listeners. The experience of silence being unable to remain true silence plays a crucial role because concentrating on it refines your hearing to a degree where even the quietest of sounds can be heard. The participants are blindfolded, led into a new place in the room and laid down on the ground. They lose their right orientation and can perceive sounds much more intensely. The musician improvises with sounds and noises to trigger musical induced images in the participants’ minds (for example rainforest-sounds or creaking doors). The participants are then asked to describe which images the music triggered for them.

Afterwards, the participants are blindfolded again and exposed to 30 seconds of silence. The prepared participants are now able to concentrate fully on listening. To their surprise, they do not perceive the silence as real silence. After this, they are asked to remember what they heard and in what order, and then then visually noting the sound of silence on a big sheet of paper.

For this exercise you will need to hang a long sheet of paper on the wall and creating the timeline of the 30 seconds of silence, marking the beginning (sec. 0), middle (sec. 15) and end (sec. 30).

As a group, the participants are asked to find words to describe what they have heard, and then visually marking the sounds into the sheet of paper. They have to decide in which moment the sound appeared, how long it was, and in which character and dynamic. They discuss and decide collaboratively, where on the paper to write, which symbols and colours to use for each sound.

Now the participants try to recreate the perceived sounds using their voices, objects from around the room including the available instruments. The participants learn to use their multitude of capabilities to produce sounds as well as those of the instruments. The participants and musicians rehearse and present the result together and build together a sort of orchestra. After implementing a few suggestions for improvement, they can record it on tape to support the concentration of the participants.

The participants communicate in order to create and perform this “music”, which is important when it comes to dynamics and mixing sound.

Finally the musicians can play music, which uses especially noise-like playing techniques. In this way, the participants hear a notated composition using the same stylistic devices as they have already worked with and which have an infinite potential to be further developed. The workshop can close with a chance for the participants to try the newly discovered sounds of the instruments themselves.