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.

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.

 

20180607_092438

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.

Beat Your Score/Build Your Dream (How to Drill Anything)

We practiced notes on the staff this week with this method, but you can use it to drill anything you have a set of flashcards for.

What You Need

  • Set of flashcards
  • Timer
  • Blocks or Legos or any other building toy (optional)

Setup

  • None

How to Play

  • Set the timer. I chose a 30 second time limit.
  • While the timer is running, flip the cards for the student one at a time. When the timer goes off, count the number of cards answered correctly.
  • If you are using the blocks, they’ve earned that number of blocks to begin building whatever they want.
    • Some of my students are old enough to feel that blocks are beneath them. That’s fine.
    • I only give them a short time to build, so I discourage risky building strategies. If it falls, we go on anyway. They’ll have another opportunity later.
  • Set the timer again. The point on the second round is to see if you can beat your first score. Whether they do or not, they can add that many blocks to their structure.
  • Repeat as many times as you want.

Variations

  • To make it easier, limit the flashcards. For example, use only C position notes or only bass clef notes.
  • To make it harder, add more flashcards into the stack. If you’re drilling notes, require them to both name the note and play it on the piano.
building-blocks-717309_1920
Beat Your Score/Build Your Dream (How to Drill Anything)

 

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.

coins-912719_1920