Slash the Note Race

Here’s a game to practice note reading. It’s based loosely on any number of digital games where you have to slash, shoot, or twist a series of items before the time runs out.

What You Need:

  • At least two pages with notes on it. You can use copies of actual music, or you could use any number of note drills like this one from Making Music Fun or this one from Susan Paradis.
  • Sheet protectors
  • A set of cards with A through G on it, shuffled
  • Whiteboard markers
  • Timer


  • Put your pages of notes in the sheet protectors.

How to Play:

  • The student draws a card to determine what note to look for. If necessary, go over where those notes are on the staff, so they have it in mind. You can do this just by talking it through, or you can show them a flashcard with the note on it, depending on the age and skill level of the student.
  • Set the timer. I generally start with 45 seconds for the student.
  • When the timer starts, hand the student one of the sheet protectors with music in it. The student has 45 seconds to use a marker and slash through each instance of the note on their sheet.
  • As the teacher, I have to wait until there are only ten seconds left before I can begin slashing the notes on my sheet. (Having only ten seconds means I generally can’t finish the sheet, which brings my score down below the student’s score.)
  • When time is up, swap sheets for scoring. Both teacher and student get two points for each correct slash, but they lose one point for each note they slashed incorrectly or should have slashed and didn’t. There is also a four point bonus for having found everything on the page.
  • If time permits, play another round with a different note. Vary the amount of time according to the student’s ability.


  • To make it easier, use music that only has treble or bass clef on it and stays within one position. For example, music where the only C will be Middle C.
  • To make it harder, use more complicated music with lots of notes, including notes that are in harmonic intervals or notes where a key signature needs to be taken into account.
  • To make it harder or easier, give either the student or yourself a different amount of time to complete the task.


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