Catch My Mistake Sight Reading Game

Catch My Mistake Sight Reading Game

Some of my students were dismayed to learn that sight reading never ends. I still practice it regularly. Here’s one easy way to make it more fun for some students.

What You Need:

  • Sight reading measure cards OR plenty of sight reading material at various levels
  • Chips, tokens, marbles, coins, buttons, or whatever small thing you have a lot of and can be used as game tokens
    • I used the flat glass marbles that are used for filling vases. They look sort of like gems, and a lot of my students enjoyed pretending they were rubies, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds. But anything will work.

Setup:

  • Give five marbles to the student and five to yourself. (We kept ours on our own side of the piano keyboard.)

How to Play:

  • Display the first card in the deck (or select the first sight reading measure or phrase, if you are using a book for sight reading). Make sure it’s easy and short enough that the student should be able to do it perfectly.
  • The student’s job is to take a close look and then play it perfectly. If he succeeds, the teacher owes him a token. If the teacher catches him in a mistake, he owes her a token.
  • Display the next card in the deck.
  • The teacher’s job is to play it with a deliberate mistake. If the student can pinpoint where the mistake occurred, the teacher owes him a token. If after two repetitions, the student cannot find the mistake, he owes the teacher a token.
  • Repeat until someone runs out of tokens. Or if lesson time is up, count the tokens to see who has the most.

Variations:

  • To make it easier, use only the first set of cards in the deck (treble clef notes in C position with seconds as the only intervals). Or you could give them more than one chance to get it right.
  • To make it harder, use the whole deck, so any interval is possible. Or flip two cards each time to make a two measure phrase. Or use harder sight reading material from a book. Or give the student only one chance to identify the mistake.
  • To make it longer, rob the bank when someone runs out of tokens instead of ending the game.

Whiteboard Rhythm Dictation

Whiteboard Rhythm Dictation

What You Need:

  • A whiteboard, chalkboard, or if you don’t have either, just use a piece of paper
  • Markers (or chalk) in a variety of colors
  • Rhythm cards like these

Setup:

  • None

How to Play:

  • The teacher draws a rhythm card. She counts a preparatory measure out loud and then claps the rhythm on the card without counting aloud.
  • The student chooses his favorite color of marker and writes the rhythm up on the board.
  • Switch jobs and repeat
  • If you choose to play for points, here’s how I did it.
    • The students get two points if they correctly write the rhythm within two times of hearing it. If it takes more than two repetitions, they go down to one point. I never let them get to zero because we keep going until they get it right.
    • The teacher gets one point for getting it right and has to get it on the first attempt. This ensures that the student will always at least tie me. Only one student complained that it wasn’t fair enough to challenge her. I switched to one of the variations below and she stopped complaining.

Variations:

  • To make it easier, limit your rhythm cards to very basic things like four quarter notes, two half notes, etc.
  • To make it harder, include the harder rhythms or make it two measures long.

Interval Ice Cream

Interval Ice Cream

This is a good example of the kind of activity I don’t like. It requires lots of cutting, gluing, and laminating, and then it only appeals to kids of a certain age. But I created it years ago before I realized what a pain that kind of thing is, so I occasionally still trot it out.

What You Need:

  • It’s easiest to just look at the picture below, but you need to create:
    • 8 ice cream cones, labeled unison, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and octave
    • ice cream scoops in a variety of colors with an example of intervals glued on

Setup:

  • Lay out the ice cream cones, face up
  • Make a heap of the scoops nearby, face down

How to Play:

  • The student chooses their favorite flavor of ice cream and adds the scoop to the ice cream cone with the correct interval written on it.
  • Repeat.
  • When all the scoops are on, we see which cone is the tallest or which one has the most appealing flavor combination.

Variations:

  • To make it easier, don’t use all the possible intervals. Limit it to just seconds and thirds or whatever intervals the student has covered.
  • To make it harder, give the student a time limit, or require him to name whether each interval is major, minor, perfect, etc.

 

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May 2018 Plans

Here’s what we did in May:

Week 1: We practiced different playing at different tempos with the Body Percussion Tempo Challenge.

Week 2: We reviewed notes with the Paint Chip Board Game (How to Drill Anything).

Week 3: We practiced rhythms with Rhythm Duets on Chimes or Bells.

Week 4: This week was the end of the school year for all my kids, so we did a Summertime Improv.

Week 5: We attempted to make sight reading less boring with Sight Reading Spin the Bottle.

Sight Reading Spin the Bottle

Sight Reading Spin the Bottle

Sight reading is such a valuable skill. It’s a shame most students find it so boring. Here’s my latest attempt to make it something other than torture.

What You Need:

  • A bottle to spin
  • 8 index cards or pieces of paper
    • 6 of them should say “Sight Reading”
    • 2 of them should have something more fun. Mine said “Review Song (your choice)” and “Drumming”

Setup:

  • Arrange the cards in a circle on the floor with the bottle in the middle.

How to Play:

  • The student spins the bottle. We do whatever is on the closest card it points to.
  • Obviously, it will usually fall on sight reading. Here are the cardinal rules of sight reading.
    • Choose music that is otherwise too easy for the student. I generally go about one full level behind wherever they are.
    • Remind them to look all the way through the passage before starting.
    • Choose a slow tempo.
    • Don’t stop.
  • If the bottle pointed to drumming, we alternated making up rhythms and playing them back on the drums.
  • If the bottle pointed to review song, they picked and played whatever previous song they wanted.
  • Spin again for the next round.

Modifications:

  • If they get frustrated, remove some of the sight reading cards to give them a better chance of getting the fun cards.