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.


  • 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,┬ácount the tokens to see who has the most.


  • 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.

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”


  • 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.


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

The Sight Reading Dragon

Sight reading is an important skill, but practicing it is inherently boring for most students. Anything to make it more interesting is a welcome relief. In Chinese culture, seeing a dragon is a sign of good luck, something that is definitely helpful when you are trying to sightread. So to celebrate Chinese New Year this week, we present the Sight Reading Dragon.

What You Need:

  • A paper Chinese dragon head.
  • Strips of different colored paper
  • Stapler
  • A selection of sight reading material.
    • I find that picking music that is two levels behind their current level usually works. For the students in the first level, I just use a different series, go back as far as I can in the book to the easier pieces and, if necessary, break it up into one measure at a time.


  • Loop one strip of paper, staple it closed and staple, tape, or glue or glue it to the back of the dragon’s head. This is necessary to get the paper chain started.

How to Play:

  • This is a studio-wide game, it will not be complete until all students have had their lesson for the week.
  • For every measure or section the students correctly sight read, they earn one strip of paper to add to the paper chain.
  • The goal is to make our brightly colored dragon as long as possible. I’ll be leaving mine up for a week so that everyone can see how long it grew.


  • For some students, I made it more competitive. I told them what the highest number of strips earned was and challenged them to beat that number. I didn’t do this with everyone, for the obvious reason that as a competition it’s totally unfair. They didn’t all get the same amount of time, some of them are beginning readers, some of them had longer sight reading selections, etc. But for some kids, the desire to win kept them going.
The Sight Reading Dragon for Chinese New Year


Christmas Gift (How to Drill Anything)

‘Tis the season. I used this for sight reading, but it could be used for pretty much anything.

What you need:

  • Cards for whatever you want to drill
  • A game piece (I used Christmas ornaments)
  • Dice
  • A box or basket filled with a Christmas gift
    • I used leftover Halloween candy because I’m desperate to get rid of it.
    • I typically don’t like giving out food. You could also use party favors, erasers, printable Christmas jokes, whatever.


  • Put your flashcards face down in a circle around the box.

How to Play:

  • Place the game piece on any random flashcard. The student rolls the dice and moves the piece that many flashcards ahead.
  • Remove the flashcard the student lands on. They should play (or answer) that flashcard.
  • Roll again and repeat. Since you are steadily removing flashcards, the circle will get smaller and smaller.
  • The game ends when all the flashcards have been removed. The student can choose one gift out of the box as a reward.