Improvisation Dice Game

Ever feel stuck in an ‘improvisation rut’? We all depend on well-learned chord progressions and patterns, but sometimes Dalcrozians (and improvising musicians in general) need a little inspiration to find their way to something new.

One remedy is by listening to others play. One of the great benefits of the recent National Conference (January 13–15, 2023) was all of the creativity and originality in improvised music that we heard and experienced. For those of us who couldn’t be there (or for those who appreciate parameters for improvisation), Aaron Butler has developed a simple game to help you mix up your practice a bit.

Aaron Butler; photo by Gary Stallsworth

To play, you’ll need several dice of varying sizes. Each die will relate to a musical element, including tonality, meter, tempo, or tonal center. (Out of dice? Try a virtual dice roller instead.)

In a solo setting, simply roll the dice and create music that follows the parameters. To simulate a group experience or practice playing for a Dalcroze class, make one of the parameters a locomotor movement (e.g., march music, running, skipping, etc.), say, or creating music for props (e.g., ball bouncing, scarf tossing, ribbon-wand waving, etc.). The possibilities are endless.

Jumbo Polyhedral Dice

Aaron Butler’s rules are listed below. Dust off your practice dice (or purchase some here or here) and give it a try! If dice are out of the cards (so to speak), then you could easily use a deck of cards (e.g., suit = mode, number = tonal center, joker = duet, etc.).

Mode — 4-sided die

MajorMinorWhole Tone Church mode, see below*

*Church Mode — 8-sided die

MixolydianAeolianLocrianRe-roll 4-sided die

Tonality / Pitch Center — 12-sided die


Meter — 10-sided die


Tempo — 6-sided die

Depending on context and comfort, metronome marking may indicate beat or division.

Please send in a recording of your results to!

We would love to hear this game played not only on the piano but on any instrument (recorder, anyone?). A future DSA blog post might come your way with the most interesting recordings submitted…

Pikasso Guitar, anyone?

Find more information about Dalcroze improvisation on our website or let us know what other topics you’d like featured here.

About Katie Couch

Katie Couch holds the Dalcroze Certificate and License from the Dalcroze School of the Rockies. She lives and works along the Colorado Front Range as a Dalcroze teacher with classes that range in age and level from early childhood through adult enrichment, with several other children’s classes as well.

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