Themes from a Hat
This is a great and engaging "mixer" for any gathering because literally everyone can participate, not just singers or musicians. The moderator should indicate that "anything goes" -- anyone can offer a song or poem and the song does not have to be a folk song. Some of the most enthusiastic singing happens on show tunes or pop numbers!
- The moderator reads out a theme.
- Anyone in the audience who knows a song or poem, or the name of a song or poem, that contains that theme raises a hand.
- The moderator selects a raised hand and the designated audience member either sings or says their response. If it's a song a lot of people may be expected to know, the moderator encourages everyone to sing along.
- It's the moderator's job to keep things moving. Usually, one verse of a song is enough before going on to the next person. The moderator indicates by sign language who will be chosen next, and at an appropriate moment trigger off the next song with a gesture.
- When things slow down, the moderator calls "next topic."
- There's no keeping score, but "bonus points" can be awarded for using the same song for a second theme or for making a horrible pun (example: the theme was "rain," the offering was "And He shall reign for ever and ever" from Handel's Messiah).
This game is the brainchild of Mike Agranoff. He writes," I once attended a session of "Bird Songs" hosted by Cindy Kallet. And she and others spent the hour in singing songs about birds. There was "When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob-Bob-Bobbin' Along" and "There Once Was An Ugly Duckling" and several songs entitled "Blackbird" and so on. The songs were nice. But the best part was the first few opening lines when one recognized the song and went 'Oh yeah!' I wanted to come up with a concept that concentrated the 'Oh Yeah!' factor. So I thought, we don't need the whole song. Just pieces of them."