Key Identification Game

Wow, I am a slacker!  All this teaching at school and working through some issues with my children has taken a huge toll on my creativity and blog time.  I took these pictures back in October, and decided it was high time to get them uploaded.

My son, The Rock, was working on identifying key names at the time.  Now, this child’s favorite toys are cowboy and indian plastic figures.  He will play for hours with those little plastic men, so I devised a way cool (in his mind) game for piano.

First, we started off with our men.  The Rock decided to be the green army man, and placed his guy at the top of the top of the keyboard.  I was assigned the blue cowboy, and my guy started out at the bottom of the keyboard. 

Then, The Rock drew a card, and moved his man to the appropirate key.  I did the same, and we kept going along like that.  Our goal was to get our little man to the opposite end of the keyboard first.

My son, of course, won.  Funny how I never seem to win a game.  You’d think I stacked the deck, or “accidentally” let him have two turns in a row every now and again.  Oh, well. 😉

You can make cards with the letter names easily enough, or you can use my Musical Alphabet Cards.  You will want to pring up several sets of the cards for this game – I’d suggest at least 5.  This game can be modified to include sharps and flats, tones of a particular scale, or whatever you can come up with.  Have fun.  My son and I sure did.

Musical Alphabet Game

This is my son, whom I will refer to as The Rock.  He is strong and solid in body and mind.  He is also a wonderful cuddle-bug, but at 7 years old, I didn’t think he would appreciate that nickname as much.

Alphabet Blocks

This week, The Rock is working on the musical alphabet.  We played a little game with the wooden alphabet blocks that I made.  You can print some out of paper here

The Rock put the blocks in order as fast as he could.  Then, to make things a bit harder, he had to start on letters other than A.  He loved it, and it was a great way to give him a little bit of wiggle time that little boys so often need.

Rhythm Cards in 3 Quarter Time

I have had a couple of requests now to do some rhythm cards in 3 quarter time.  I don’t really feel like folding my laundry, so I thought this was a great time to do them. 🙂  Most of the cards only use quarter, half, and dotted half notes, but I threw in a few with 8th notes as well. 

These will work great for one of Cecilly’s new games.  She gives her students several cards with both 3 and 4 beats to a measure.  (Click here for the 4-beat rhythm cards.)  The students seperate them and make a line of music in each time signature.  They can them clap the lines they have created.  It’s a great way to introduce time signatures!

Rhythm Cards in 3/4 Time

If you just want to print out what you need for Cecilly’s Game, then this may be the file for you.

Cecilly’s Rhythm TIme Match-Up Race

Basketball – My Way

This is one of my most popular activities with my piano students – especially my elementary aged boys. 

First they pick a card.  Today, we were doing pentascales, so we used the Alphabet Flash Cards


 After a card is drawn, the student runs over to the piano, and playes the pentascale.  We always chant “tonic, whole, whole, half, whole” during this process. 


If the student is successful, I toss them the basketball, and they get to take a shot in my $2 thrift store basketball hoop.  Then, they run across the room, draw another card, and do it all over again.


This game could be modified many ways.  Students could draw note flashcards, play full scales, or even something as simple as identifying the letter names of the keys.  Any way you play it, it is loads of fun!

Halloween Games

There has been some great discussion on the Yahoo Piano Teachers list about games for Halloween.  Well, thinking up games is much more fun than completing the homework for the class I need to renew my teaching certificate, so here you are! 

The first game is Trick or Treat.  Print off the Pumpkin Rhythm Cards, and place in a Halloween candy bucket.  If the student picks a rhythm, it is a “trick” and they must clap it correctly.  If they draw out a pumpkin that is says “treat” they get to pick a treat from the candy stash.  If you want to, you can print the reverse side on the back of the pumpkin cards, making for games that are a bit more commercial-looking.  That way, when you cut them out there will be an image on the front and back of each card.  There is also a blank pumpkin page so you can customize the game.

Pumpkin Rhythm Cards

Pumpkin Cards – Blank

Pumpkin Cards – Reverse Side

The next game is Candy Corn Note Match. Cut apart all of the sections, and have the students match up the note on the staff, note on the keyboard, and letter name. This can be done individually or in groups, and can be competitive or not in nature. Once again, there is a blank Candy Corn page if you’d like to make your own game. I think it would be great for terms – the abbreviation, Italian word, and definition.

Candy Corn Note Match

 Candy Corn Blanks

Now, I’m going to finish writing about the Flores Consent order and Lau vs. Nichols. Really. No more procrastinating…at least for today! 😉

Real Rhythm Cards

I made wood Rhythm Blocks of various lenghts to represent the different note values, and thought some paper ones would be good to have as well.  So I made some, and they have been uselessly sitting on my computer.  Today Cecilly posted a great idea about how to use these rhythm cards on the Yahoo Piano Teachers list, and I thought it would be nice to take a minute and upload them.  I am going to mount my cards on lightweight cardboard from cereal boxes, then “laminate” them with 2 inch clear packaging tape for durability.  Hope you enjoy them!

Real Rhythm Cards Black and White

Real Rhythm Cards Color

Rhythm Blocks

I have been wanting to make these for years, ever since I read about them in the book “A Galaxy of Games for the Music Class.” (A WONDERFUL resource, by the way!) They are great for showing the relationships between note values, rhythmic dictation, and are just a lot of fun in general. Here are the steps in making these blocks.

First, I bought 7 1/2 feet of 3/4 inch square pine. It was cut to the following lenghts:
8th note: 1 inch (cut 4)
Quarter note: 2″ (cut eight)
Dotted Quarter note: 3″ (cut 4)
Half Note: 4″ (cut 4)
Dotted Half Note: 6 inches (cut 4)
Whole Note: 8 inches (cut 2)

Next, I painted them. You wouldn’t need to do this, but I like the bright colors, and wanted easy identification of the different lengths of blocks.

Using a black sharpie marker, I drew notes and rests on each of the blocks. On the quarter note blocks, I drew a quarter note on 2 sides, a quarter rest on 1 side, and 2 eighth notes on the remaining side. The notes don’t show up well in the picture, but they do in real life.

Here are a few activities that can be done with these: (you may want 2 or more sets for group activities)

The teacher chants or plays a rhythmic pattern, and the student notates it with their blocks. This can also be done as a competition between 2 students or 2 teams.

The teacher gives a certain number of beats, such as 8. A student notates with the blocks the exact number of beats the teacher has called.

The teacher gives the student a set of parameters, such as 3 measures in 4/4 time. Student builds the set number of measures. This is fun for a group of students as well.

Another added bonus of these blocks – they are wonderful for entertaining little boys while their mommy updates her blog!