Play Like an Animal (Improv)

This is a very short improv exercise that most of my students love. You can repeat it as many times as you want, so it’s a good time filler regardless of how much time you have.

What You Need:

  • Nothing


  • None

How to Play:

  • Ask the student to choose an animal. Any animal will work, though it’s most fun if there is something distinctive about that animal. Kangaroos, cheetahs, eels, and turtles are all good choices.
  • Talk about what musical characteristics describe that animal.
    • Fast or slow?
    • Loud or quiet?
    • Legato or staccato?
    • Major or minor?
  • Play an improv duet together about that animal.
    • I usually stick to C major or A minor for this because we’re working on musicality more than we are working on key signatures.
    • I just play the primary chords in whatever style suits the animal.
    • The student makes up a melody to go with it.
    • The student should end on the tonic.
  • Afterwards, be sure to give some compliments about it. Did it have rhythm? Did it stick within the key signature? Did it have a motif? Etc.
  • If you repeat this, try picking an animal that is very different.
Play Like an Animal! (Piano Improv Exercise)

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