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Game Ideas for Teachers

Games Are a Fun Way to Teach and Learn Music Concepts!

Below find some great games that are simple to play and effective at aiding the teaching process. Click here to see Games for Students and Parents

Perfect Repetition

This game can be played with marbles, pennies, M& M’s, etc. Choose which fits best for your student and studio.

Place the reward items on one side of the piano (in a jar or cup). When a student plays a difficult spot perfectly, he/she gets to move one reward to the other side of the piano (again in a jar or cup). If he/she makes a mistake, then the student stops, and all the reward items are moved back to the original side. The goal is to get all of the rewards moved over to the “perfect” side. If he/she is successful then let him/her keep the reward.

Rhythmic Clapping

This game of Copycat is great for practicing Ear Training and Rhythm.

Teacher claps a rhythm and student repeats it from ear exactly. For young students and beginner students, start with simple rhythms (like all quarter notes, which are even) and then increase in difficulty as the child is capable. This game allows for difficult rhythm examples, so this is not a “limiting” exercise. It can grow with the child.

Challenge (Teacher-Style)

Challenges are a great way to motivate the competitive student.

Timed Challenges

  1. How many flashcards can a student get in a certain amount of time?
    For example, tell the student he/she has X-seconds per card to say the correct answer. The cards which he/she gets correct go in one pile and the cards he/she gets wrong go in another. At the end see how many are in each pile. If there are more in the “correct” pile then he/she gets a reward.
  2. How many intervals can be identified on a practice sheet in a certain amount of time?
  3. How quickly can the Circle of Fifths be said? (use a timer to keep track of how long it takes)
  4. How many scales can be played in a certain amount of time?
  5. Be creative in finding additional ways to challenge your students.

Copycat Challenge

Play an example (technique, student’s music, etc.) and have your student try to copy you exactly. This is a great way to practice expression and articulation!

Matching (Teacher-Style)

Create a matching game with a TWIST.

Set up a matching game where the “matches” are related items instead of exact matches, such as:

  1. One card is the key of A Major, and the other is a key signature with 3 sharps.
  2. One card is an interval of a 4th, and the other card says “Perfect.” (This reinforces interval *quality* with its quantity).
  3. One card is the key of F Major, and the other card is the key of d minor (This uses relative keys as matches)
  4. Etc.

Simon Says

For this game you will need two different sets of flashcards and an object to use for pointing/tapping the cards.

Spread two sets of flashcards out on the fallboard, floor, table or any other surface. One set has the key signatures on the staff and the other lists the name of each Major/minor key. Give the student something which they can use to point to/tap the cards. The teacher then calls out “Simon Says…” either the name of a key or a specific number of sharps/flats. For example, “Simon Says… key of A Major.” The student points or taps the corresponding key signature on the staff. Or, “Simon Says… 3 sharps.” The student points or taps the card that says A Major/f# minor.

Be the Teacher

This is a game of role reversal.

Version 1:
Have your student play chords, arpeggios, intervals, etc. and YOU guess the answer. This will give your student the opportunity to think, and it’s always fun to try to stump the teacher.

Version 2:
Play incorrectly some technique exercises, examples from your students, music, or any other activity and see if your student can figure out and explain what you are doing wrong.


Fun competition with the teacher is a great way to enhance a student’s skills.

Set up a playful “duel” between teacher and student. For example: “Can you do it as fast as I can?” If the student is able to keep up, he/she receives a reward. This can be applied to almost anything. Below are some additional ideas to consider:

  1. Can you play your scales, arpeggios, etc. as fast as I can?
  2. Who can name the most note name flashcards in X-seconds?
  3. Who can fill in the theory worksheet the fastest?
  4. Can you say all the Circle of Fifths (in Major and/or minor) in less than 1 minute?
  5. Etc.

Provide students with a fun and exciting way to practice elementary theory terms.  This crossword puzzle includes 10 early elementary music terms and definitions — tie, whole note, repeat sign, quarter note, half note, bar line, slur, double bar line, measure and staff.