When composing and improvising, students often struggle to come up with inspiration. As teachers, we look for new ways to spark our students’ creativity. It is especially important that the students can connect with this inspiration. Students today are constantly engaged with mobile technology and the culture associated with it. Part of that culture is the use of Emojis to communicate.
Emojis are a great tool for inspiration. The icons suggest very strong emotions, but also leave a lot to interpretation. Some emojis are straightforward while others are much more complex. By sorting through them, a teacher can sequence an activity to improve students’ improvisational skills.
Use a mobile device with an emoji keyboard installed and connect it to a projector. Choose a simple emoji, such as a face that is smiling 😀, crying 😭, laughing 😂, or angry 😡 . Discuss what emotion the emoji represents and how that emotion can be represented musically. The students will take one minute to experiment with their instrument to represent the emoji. Each student will then play what they came up with.
After a few rounds, allow the students to select emojis for each other. Students may use the mobile device connected to the projector or they may use their own. They may select more than one emoji to play simultaneously or in sequence to create a story. Students may work in small groups if they wish. Repeat this process with different and more complex emojis.
Feel free to have fun and get a little silly with this activity. My trombone student and I had a great time improvising with some of the non-human emojis like the train 🚅, the turtle 🐢 and, of course, the smiling pile of poo 💩.