For this activity, you need a giant staff. I made mine by using a Sharpie marker to draw five evenly spaced lines on a piece of heavy white fabric. The fabric was leftover from a friend’s IKEA curtains adventure, so the whole thing was free. Alternatively, you could check out the curtains/tablecloth section in Goodwill. No need to spend a lot of money on a nice, new piece of fabric.
What You Need:
- A giant staff
- A treble or a bass clef
- It doesn’t have to match the size of the staff. Mine doesn’t.
- Bean bag
- Lay out the staff on the floor and place your clef.
How to Play:
- Stand together beneath your giant staff.
- Mutually decide on your teacher handicap. For my beginners, I give a five second handicap. More advanced students get only one or two seconds.
- The first player tosses the bean bag onto the staff. The student should call out the name of the note it lands on. The teacher silently counts out the handicap seconds and then calls out the name of the note it lands on.
- Note: Because the spaces are so much wider than the lines, I tell them that if even a tiny corner is touching the line, they should call the line note, not the space note.
- Whoever called the correct note first gets a point.
- Take turns tossing until someone has 10 points. Adjust the handicap as needed to make sure the student wins.
- To make it easier, limit the number of notes you have to call to the ones the student has learned. If the bean bag lands on a note outside that range, have them say “Haven’t learned it!”
- To make it harder, shorten the teacher handicap.
- To make it even harder, use the game to practice intervals. Instead of naming the note it lands on, they should name the note a third above the note it lands on (or a fourth, fifth, whatever).
- If the student is consistently throwing the bean bag way beyond the staff or aiming so that it always lands in the same place, take over all the throwing duties yourself. They shape up quickly under that threat.