I was wondering aloud one day to a friend why we didn’t all sing together more. I love to sing with other people, it’s such a warm amazing feeling, and in some cultures it happens a lot; but we rarely ever sang with other people.
Then I remembered a game that I learned from Professor Lee Devin at Swarthmore College. It was a warm-up that we played before theater class. I couldn’t remember if it had a name, but “Floor Head Hum” seemed like a good one. I suddenly thought, “maybe it would be fun to play a game like this at a get together?” I had a couple of other musical games that we used to play in my band, one that we made up that we called “Over and Over.” And another one, called “Hey,” that I heard about in an interview with the guitar player Trey Anastasio.
So I did it, I invited 6 or 7 friends over for one of our usual Friday evening get togethers. There were one or two people in this group who were generally up for anything. When I mentioned it to them, they thought it was a great idea to infuse a regular party with some of these ridiculous musical games. So when the party was in full swing, and everyone had talked and had some food for a little while, I said to a few folks, “hey, would you guys like to play a game?,” and my two friends who I had already talked to earlier said yes, and a few other people said they would too, and pretty soon we had everyone lying down on the floor playing Floor Head Hum.
Everyone lies on the floor in a circle, belly up, with heads in the center, near to each other. Close your eyes.
Take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Sigh. Repeat this a couple of times. Take a deep breath and sigh for a long time.
Extend a sigh into a steady hum. Hum while you exhale, and maintain your note for as long as you can.
Maintain a steady note while you sigh. You can change to a new note each time you begin to exhale.
There is no need to start or stop together, simply listen deeply to the note that you are humming. When you inhale, try to breathe in so that your belly button fills up. Let your hands rest on your belly or at your sides. Listen to the chords (harmonies) produced by all the players together and try only changing your note, when you have truly explored the depth of sound in each chord. Crawl into your own ear drums. Feel all of the sounds as they come together there in your ear; juicy, minty, sinuous, warm. Listen as if you are floating above your body, as if you are in the audience at this concert.
Play Floor Head Hum until your eyes roll back in your head, you become silent, and you find it is difficult to stand up.
Also. Try singing ‘Hwa-nnng’ instead of humming. Let your jaw hang open.
Also. Each person can rest their head on someone else’s belly, forming an head-belly-head-belly loop.
We played Floor Head Hum for a nice long time. Eventually it felt natural for it to end, and everyone faded to quiet. People were lying there quietly breathing, and everyone felt really relaxed.
After awhile, I said, do you guys want to play another game, and everyone felt so good that they all said, “Yes!” Everyone felt a little floaty and loose as they sat up. I said, okay, “Now we’re going to play a game called Hey.”
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