Connect Four (Music Twist)

Last week I played Connect 4 with my students. Here’s how the basic game works:

What you need:

  • Music note flashcards
  • Anything to use as markers (coins, pieces from other board games, erasers, etc.)


  • Lay out your note flashcards into at least four columns and four rows. More is better, at least for more advanced students.
  • Divide the markers by color or shape between you and the student.

How to play:

  • When it is your turn, place a marker on one of the flashcards and say the name of the note.
  • The first person to get four in a row wins.


  • For pre-readers, use cards with only the letter. To place a marker on that square, they have to play that note on the keyboard.
  • For readers who have only learned the C position notes, lay out all the flashcards. If they want to claim a space with a note they haven’t learned, they should say only whether it’s higher or lower than the notes they do know.
  • For more advanced readers, use cards with ledger lines or intervals.
  • For an extra twist, make it Gravity Connect Four, where all pieces automatically fall down to the lowest available flashcard in their column.
  • For a bigger extra twist, make it Reversi, where if you flank an opponent’s pieces, they are replaced with your pieces. In this version, the goal is not to get four in a row, but to complete the grid and then count up who has claimed the most flashcards.

Connect Four, loridavisstudio

Musical Alphabet

These cards print up the musical alphabet 15 times, in various colors and fonts. They include sharp and flat signs. Here are just a few ideas for using them that have worked well for me:

  • Student draws a card out of the bag and plays that note on the piano.
  • Use sticky tack and hide them around the room. When they find one, they play that note.
    • ​If I’m on the ball, I have them hidden before the student arrives. If I’m not, no worries. I have them play their song for the week while I hide them. They’re too busy to see exactly where I’m putting them.
    • If it’s taking too long, we play Hot and Cold to find them.
    • It’s also possible to have them hide a few for me. Then I find them and play them, but they have to watch to make sure I don’t make any mistakes. 
  • Student draws several cards out of the bag and lays them out. Then they play the sequence of notes they have drawn.
  • Very young students can practice putting the cards in order on the floor. 
    • ​We practice it both forwards and backwards.
    • We also try building a tower that is longer than they are. (If you do this, make sure that A is on the bottom of the tower and build up, just like the notes on t he staff work.) Periodically, they lie down on the flower next to their tower to see if they need to build it any higher.
  • More advanced students can play a major or minor scale starting on the letter than they draw.

Naturally, there’s no limit to the different ways you could use these, which is the only reason I was willing to go to the effort of creating them.