Music Games : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

I am a first year music teacher and teach 6th grade piano students. They are bored with figuring out and playing song after song in the book. I'm looking for some piano games/ wks. that will change the pace in my classroom. Just a side note: these students have pretty bad behavior problems so games or wks. they could do by themselves. Thanks so much ANY HELP!!!! Tiffany Haugh Moore County Music Teacher, NC

-- Tiffany Haugh (, November 08, 2004


How about music bingo -- you bring cards that are marked into squares and have blank music staves stamped in them. Tell them what notes you want them to have, but let them choose where the notes go. Make yourself a set of calling cards -- if you have flashcards, you can use them -- call the notes and they have to get five in a row. I don't bother putting the B I N G O at the top; let them look all over the card for the notes. After they've played a couple of times, they can trade cards with each other.

You don't have to use just notes; they can also have time signatures, dynamic symbols, or whatever other concepts you've been working on.

If each student has a set of flashcards, they can play Snap against each other -- each shuffles their deck, holds them face down, draws their top card -- whoever has the higher note wins and takes both cards. Make sure their decks have their names on them so cards can be returned at the end of the game! You can also play this with cards with note values -- highest note value wins -- or time signatures (the cards have rhythms, but no time signatures -- they must figure out the time signature and which has more beats).

Good luck!

-- Alice Dearden (, November 08, 2004.

it's kinda cute, but you could do a ''show and tell'' game.

this is undoubtedly silly, but the silliness is what could make it work, especially for kids with behavior/attention problems. it would be homework, but the kids would probably like you for it.

first, tell them that you have homework for them. let them complain a bit about it, but just long enough so that you can surprise them with what's actually a fun game/and the prospect of cookies and milk:

1-without revealing to one another, each kid picks their favorite audible animal(s), and tells you, teacher. you make sure that their aren't duplicates.

2-when they go home, (or wherever they go to practice) each student will come up with a sound and technique on the piano in an attempt to mimic that animal's sound. (high-treble trills for chirping birds, low-bass glissandi for lion growls). the main purpose is for them to develop unique techniques and/or better understanding of the sonic boundaries of the piano's mechanics. each student would be required not to help or listen to other students for this main sound.

3-on the due date, everybody gathers around the campfire (piano) to share stories about their animal--recital time. for interests of fleshing out the assignment, each student would probably do additional sounds or even collaborations. the resulting piano sounds are not meant to be substitutes for music, but could (and probably will) be just as musical in the appropriate context. be sure to emphasize this to the students before during and after. the resulting piano sounds should probably be brief: 1-3 minutes.

4-before recitals, there should be some light-hearted joking and conversation, and even something akin to cookies and milk. during sharing of the sounds, the kids should be encouraged very strongly to note the strengths of each and every other's techniques. as the teacher, you could point out humourous and useful attributes to each student's project. it should be clear from the onset that the students are to feel relaxed but serious about the limited palette sound game.

VARIATIONS: hmm. sound palette. ok, if this is just totally stupid, you could try a variant of machinery sounds, or home appliance sounds, or even mimicking laughter or crying with piano sounds. if the assignment seems to far wide, you could narrow it down to staccato, legato, piano, forte, major, minor, etc. maybe require the kids to find a sound to mimic and then explain how they used crescendo, diminuendo, etc to recreate it.

naturally, most if not all sounds will be totally unbelievable, but that's to be expected and discussed openly by all with an air of humour. still, some students could come up with some interesting little arpeggios. hopefully, it could be stretched or contracted to help the students discover what kinds of broken chords or motifs impart moods best.

i got the idea for this from a music teacher i had in second grade, and an acoustics teacher i had in college. the acoustician played us a very elaborate symphonic recording which the composer intended to mimic a steamtrain. he had us guess what it was about. the music teacher used to play symphonic songs for us like "Fanfare for the Common Man" or "Nutcracker Suite" and have us guess what kinds of meaning or feelings or images we got from the songs. i think that's what got me interested in music composition in the first place.

maybe this is all hot air.


when in doubt, for a nonsensical day of departure, have them fingerpaint on large waxy paper sheets with chocolate fudge pudding. but, don't tell them it's chocolate until 30 minutes later as they struggle to resist their urges to smell or eat the paint! (True story from a nature Camp in 2nd grade!) it has to be convincing though. start with real quick batches of real paints. do batches of purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, then end with (chocolate) brown. mix some glossy filler into the real fingerpaints to match consistencies.

i've never been a teacher, so maybe my ideas all blow. i certainly respect what you do. arrested in my development at 30- something, i still have an inherently preschool mindset.

-- former piano student (, November 16, 2004.

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