Top Music Theory Games For The Classroom

By Jade Bultitude
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I am starting this new school year with a determination to make music theory fun for everyone and one thing I have found that really works and engages my students is using games! And the great thing is, is that there are so many games out there to try. A few that I am loving right now are:

Master the Stave

Master the Stave Game

This game is great fun, especially if you have a big group and a fair amount of space!

You will need five long pieces of string! On the ground lie these out, one on top of the other. This will represent the stave/staff! 

You will now need a set of flash cards with the musical alphabet on, ABCDEFG! 

You could easily buy flash cards, but it is very simple to type these out and print them off!

To play this game then simply turn over flash cards one at a time and find them on your stave.

Master your rhythm

girl thinking with metronome

This game is also brilliant! I love how this brings together the learning of rhythm but also makes it relevant to the pieces that students are playing!

Put the metronome on (if you don’t have one these are easily downloaded for free on your phone or ipad!). 

Now find different rhythms in your pieces and see if you can clap them correctly!

Remember to start with easier rhythms before building up into those more tricky ones!

Want to practice this on the go as well? There are some excellent apps you can use to practice this as well. I particularly love ToneGym – read my review of ToneGym here.

Hot Potato

hot potato game, girl catching ball with treble clef on it

If you have a larger class, this game is SO much fun! Ask everyone to stand up and throw your hot potato around the circle, I simply just use a ball or even just a stuffed toy.

As you throw, ask the person you are throwing it to a music theory question! Such as ‘How many lines on a stave?’ 

Remember to think about your question before you throw! 

We have an excellent list of practice questions here to get you started!

Musical Stepping Stones

stepping stones, music notes

For this question you will need to have your questions printed out on large pieces of paper and you will also need a dice!

Lay your question papers on the floor like stepping stones. You then need to roll the dice, land on a stepping stone and answer the question! 

If the question is answered correctly, the student will roll again. If not then they are stuck there until it is their go again!

Tempo Challenger

music game, teacher and pupils

This one is great for getting students to learn their tempo words. 

For this you will need a list of different tempo words.  You will then shout them out and Students need to move in a way that represents the word! For example:

Andante – students must walk

Allegro – students must be fast !

Pesante – students must be heavy

This is a great way to physically represent these challenging to learn words and I have found that my students retain them so much better!

What’s that interval?

teacher piano student, what's that interval game

This game is a little more challenging but once students get into it and get over their fear of singing they gain so much from it! 

Ask your student to play a note (begin with natural notes to keep the difficulty down!)  You will then see if they can sing the 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc note of the major scale. 

You can progress this by moving onto sharps and flats and then further still into the inor scales. 

To make this even more difficult you can also encourage them to write these intervals down! 

Card Games

There are also some excellent card games you can purchase. These are particularly good if you’re music theory groups vary in sizes. Here are a few of my favourites:

music theory flashcards teacher and pupil

Note Nabber

With this one you must race to acquire the whole music alphabet. You can use this with any ability as the teacher is in control of the difficulty by selecting what cards are in play. This game is really fun and has different wild cards such as the baroque card which will break up a players hand, or the liszt card where you must list them! It is a super fun game! 

Music Snap

To play this game you need some cards with images of notes on the stave and then another set of cards with the letter names on. Turn the cards over and shout SNAP when you have two that match! You can make this easier or harder by adding in accidentals and also varying the clefs… take it into tenor clef if you can!

Bingo

This game can be played with virtually any aspect of music theory. Rhythm recognition, musical terms, instruments of the orchestra, key signatures to name a few! You can make your own bingo boards quite simply but it is also possible to purchase these boards as well.

And then if you would like to use interactive games as a quick starter in a lesson remember to check out ToneGym or use some of the interactive resources on this website!

What games do you use to help with music theory learning? Let me know!

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AUTHOR
Jade is an experienced musician and teacher as well as being the founder of Music Theory Foundations. She has been helping people learn music theory for more than 10 years from pre school children all the way to degree level studies.

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