The Slap Game (Note Review)

This is a great game to play when you’ve just got a few minutes left in the lesson. It takes no prep, can last anywhere from 30 seconds to 15 minutes, and is loved by kids.

What You Need:

  • Notes on the staff flashcards
  • Cards with the letters A-G (optional)

Setup:

  • None

How to Play:

  • The student draws a letter card. This determines which note to look for. (If you’re not using the letter cards, just decide on a note.)
  • The teacher holds the deck of note flashcards and flips them over one at a time into a pile within easy reach of both people. When the student sees the note, she slaps the pile of cards. If she slaps it before the teacher gets the next card down, she gets a point. If she doesn’t, then the teacher gets a point.
  • Continue playing until all the notes with that name have been found. Then choose a new note, shuffle the note flashcards, and play again until you run out of time.

Variations:

  • To make it easier, limit the cards in the deck. For example, only C position notes, or only treble clef notes, etc.
  • To make it harder, flip over the cards faster. Or play with interval flashcards instead, looking for all the thirds or fourths, etc.

silhouette-3275055_1280

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.

Giant Staff—Twister (Music Twist)

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 bass clef
    • It doesn’t have to match the size of the staff. Mine doesn’t.
  • Cards with the musical alphabet on them, such as these
  • Hand and foot cards

Setup:

  • Lay out your giant staff and place the clef.

How to Play:

  • The teacher draws a hand/foot card and a letter card and calls them out. The student has to place that body part on that note.
  • If they are still more or less upright when the time runs out or the cards run out, they win.
  • If they fall down, just start from scratch.
yoga-2566569_1920
Giant Staff—Twister

Giant Staff—Hopscotch

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 bass clef
    • It doesn’t matter if your clef doesn’t match your staff in size. Mind doesn’t.
  • Some kind of marker, such as a bean bag, bottle cap, whatever

Setup:

  • Lay out your giant staff

How to Play:

  • Stand beneath the staff and toss your marker onto the staff.
  • If the marker lands on a space, you’ll be hopping spaces. On one foot, hop to the first space and name the note you’re on. Then hop to the next space and name it. Skip the note with your marker. When you reach the top, turn around (still on one foot) and hop back.
  • If the marker lands on a line, do the same process with the lines.

Variations:

  • To make it easier, don’t do all the hopping. Just jump to the note your marker is on and name it.
  • To make it harder, change the interval. Jump up in fourths or fifths. You may or may not want to even use the marker in this case.

hopscotch-2612395_1920

Giant Staff—Bean Bag Toss

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

Setup:

  • 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.

Variations:

  • 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.
illustration-1143890_1920
Giant Staff—Bean Bag Toss