# Sailing the Seas (Intervals)

I developed this game for Thanksgiving, but I have very deliberately kept anything purely seasonal out of it, so it can really be used at any time of year.

What You Need:

• These cards, cut up and possibly laminated.
• Note that the two cards with ships should not be cut along the dotted line, so you can fold there and then stand them up.
• A die
• A game piece, coin, or other manipulative
• A grand staff (optional)
• This can be on blank staff paper, on a whiteboard, on poster board, whatever you’ve got.

Setup:

• Shuffle the interval, storm at sea, and tailwind cards together. Lay them out face down on the floor in a line or squiggle. Place the Old World at one end and the New World at the other (face up).
• Add the icebergs on top of any three random interval cards. (I let the student do this.)
• Place the ships on the Old World.
• If you are drilling intervals on the keyboard, place a game piece (or coin) on Middle C. If you are drilling intervals on the staff and you have the right manipulatives, place a whole note on Middle C. If you’re using staff paper or a whiteboard, draw a whole note on middle C.

How to Play:

• The first player rolls the dice. Move that player’s ship forward that many spaces. Move the note marker on the staff or keyboard by the interval specified on the card.
• If the teacher strikes an iceberg, she goes all the way back to Start. If the student strikes an iceberg, he must answer an extra challenge of the teacher’s choice to see if he can navigate around it successfully.
• The first person to reach the New World wins.

Variations:

• To make it easier, use only the smaller interval cards.
• To make it harder, use only the larger interval cards.
• To make it shorter, don’t use all the cards, even if you choose them at random.

# Motif Game

A musical motif is a device that most of my students don’t arrive at naturally. It needs explanation, and here is a great way to do it.

What You Need:

• These cards, printed and cut up
• A die
• Game Pieces

Setup:

• Remove any cards you don’t want to use.
• Starting with “Start,” lay the cards out face down on the floor like a board game. You can make loops and swirls and short cuts to make it more interesting. End with the “Finish” card.
• Place your two game pieces on Start.

How to Play:

• First explain the concept of a motif.
• A motif is a very short musical idea. (Two measures maximum for this game.)
• For example, the first line of “Twinkle, Twinkle,” the first measure of the “Imperial March” from Star Wars, the first four notes of Beethoven’s 5th symphony, etc.
• Our ears like repetition, but they also get bored. Composers use motifs to create melodies by modifying their motif just enough that it stays interesting, but not so much that we can’t identify it as the same motif.
• Both the student and the teacher need to come up with a motif in the key of C major. Keep it simple. Make the student play their idea several times until they can remember it consistently. When he can reliably play it back, he’s ready to play.
• The student rolls the die and advances his game piece that many cards forward. Then he needs to return to the piano and play his same motif, but with the modifications specified on the card (i.e., with a different key, tempo, rhythm, etc.)
• Some modifications are easier than others. You can keep score by assigning points for difficulty. Or you can ignore scores and just play to see who gets to finish first.
• The teacher takes a turn with her own motif.
• The first one to the finish line wins. (Or the one who collects the most difficulty points wins, if you are playing with points.)

Variations:

• To make it easier, only place out the easiest cards, such as dynamic changes and changing one note.
• To make it harder, remove the easier cards, such as dynamic changes and changing one note.
• To make it spookier, create your motif in A minor and remove all the cards that have major key signatures.

# Black Cat Strut (Improv)

The black cat strut is not my own activity. It comes from 88 Piano Keys. My students enjoyed it so much this year, I wanted to remember it, plus a few notes from my experience.

• As she recommends, I didn’t show my students anything. It was entirely done by memory and ear.
• For the youngest students, you can give them just three melody notes: C, D, E.
• More advanced students can handle all the ones she mentions in the instructions.
• If the student hasn’t learned dotted quarter note rhythms yet, just explain the left hand pattern as a dotted half note and a quarter note.
• I don’t have iRealPro, so I didn’t use her recorded drum beat. It’s a great improv even without it.

# Spider Web (How to Drill Anything)

The specific board I use for this game is created by Hatch Patch Creations. It is intended for a church lesson on honesty for kids, and I did originally use it for exactly that purpose. But I am all about repurposing, so here it is again in a different form.

What You Need:

• A printable spider board game
• Basically, it just needs a spider web and some numbers going around it. See the picture below.
• Die
• A few plastic spiders
• Mine were rings in a previous life
• Two small items to use as game markers
• Flashcards for whatever you want to drill

Setup:

• Place your game markers in the middle of the web. The goal is to escape it.

How to Play:

• Have the student place the plastic spiders on any numbers they choose.
• The student rolls the die. In order to advance, they need to correctly answer a flashcard. If they get it wrong, they stay where they are.
• The teacher takes a turn. Repeat.
• Whenever anyone lands on a number with a plastic spider, that is a wild space which could mean different things, such as:
• Double or nothing: move forward twice
• Teacher loses a turn
• Go back to start
• I was drilling rhythms, so my spiders meant you had to write your own rhythm.
• Whoever escapes the web first wins.

Variations:

• To make it easier or harder, just vary your flashcards.
• To make it shorter, declare whoever is ahead the winner.

# Lucky Penny Game (Note Review)

Every St Patrick’s Day, I play the Lucky Penny game with my students. This is not my original idea, and you can find the original brief instructions at Sing a New Song.  It is a very simple game to review notes on the staff. I particularly like it because it isn’t just a drill of finding the note name. They also have to connect it through to the correct note on the piano. I always have some students who are great at naming the note, but still have no clue which octave they ought to be playing it in. This game helps.

What You Need:

• Flashcards with the notes you want to review
• As many pennies as you have flashcards. One (or more) should be marked on one side in some way as the lucky one.
• I use Euro pennies. My American students are always delighted by how small they are and the fact that they really are Irish pennies. Of course, if you don’t have a source for Euro pennies, any other small coin works just fine.
• My lucky penny has a sticker of a four leaf clover.

How to Play:

• Since I am not the originator of the game, I will just direct you to Sing a New Song to get the instructions on how to play.
• My modifications are as follows:
• I only have one lucky penny, not 2-5. If they have to go through two full octaves to find the penny, I don’t consider that a bad thing. It’s just more practice.
• I don’t give out candy, since I try to keep that at an absolute minimum. If they aren’t expecting candy, students are still interested in seeing how lucky they are (i.e., how quickly they find the lucky penny).

Variations:

• To make it easier or shorter, limit the number of notes you ask.
• To make it harder, don’t have them remove the penny on the note on the staff. Instead pick an interval and require them to remove the penny a third above or a fourth below the note on the staff. You can then ask them to name whether that interval is major, minor, diminished, etc.