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, count 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.
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:
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).
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.