Smooth Jazz

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"Smooth Jazz" is a warm up that's good for just about everything (group mind, energy, and focus).

Format

"Smooth Jazz" is a pass-the-focus exercise in the same vein as "Superheroes," but it employs sound and movement combinations in place of people's names. It is also set to a more strict rhythm.

  • Everybody sitting in a circle.
  • A "We Will Rock You" rhythm is established: boom, boom, clap. boom, boom, clap. (Feel free to "boom" on your thighs.)
  • The group selects a category for their sound and movement combinations. A good place to start is "animals," but it can be as abstract or realistic as you like.
  • Everyone in the circle, one by one, establishes their own personal combination in time with the "clap" section of the rhythm.
  • When you return to the initial leader, she sends focus by repeating someone else's sound and movement.
  • This person then sends focus by repeating a different person's sound and movement.
  • Etc.

Tips

Start with a slow tempo. During the "establishing" round, repeat each person's combination as a group on the next beat. This helps everybody remember it. You may also elect to cycle through each of combinations as a group - everybody saying them in unison - before you proceed to use them to pass focus.

Example

Category: Money. 4 players. All combinations are debuted and repeated on the "clap" section of the rhythm.

Establishing round

  • Boom boom clap rhythm established.
  • Person 1: pantomiming a slot machine / "ca-ching!"
  • All repeat this combination.
  • Person 2: rubbing fingers for universal "money" gesture / "oh yeah..."
  • All repeat.
  • Person 3: throwing coins in the air / "I'm filthy rich!"
  • All repeat.
  • Person 4: cupping hands and frowning / "spare some change?"
  • All repeat.
  • All: pantomiming a slot machine / "ca-ching!"
  • All: rubbing fingers for universal "money" gesture / "oh yeah..."
  • All: throwing coins in the air / "I'm filthy rich!"
  • All: cupping hands and frowning / "spare some change?"

Real round

  • Person 1: throwing coins in the air / "I'm filthy rich!" (sent to Person 3)
  • Person 3: cupping hands and frowning / "spare some change?" (sent to Person 4)
  • Person 4: rubbing fingers for universal "money" gesture / "oh yeah..." (sent to Person 2)
  • Etc.

Variations

Once you've played one category through to satisfaction, establish more. You can then mix them all together. In this variation, you would need to be prepared to respond when any of your combinations are called, regardless of the category. Also consider forbidding the use of real words in the sound section of the combination.

Other info

A favorite warm up in the ComedySportz Los Angeles High School League. Also frequently employed by Dangerbox, an ensemble at NYU. Dangerbox wasn't sure what the exercise was called, but it was christened "Smooth Jazz" after one of their ensemble sang out "Smoo-oo-ooth Ja-aa-azz" for her combination in a "radio" category. It was in half time and they liked it a lot.

See also