How to End the Music Practice Blues: 10 Incredible Games for Kids -

from the MMF Music Library

Olympic athletes train for years before they reach the medal podium. Becoming a great musician is no different.

It takes daily practice, mental stamina, smart instruction, and a plan for success. However - it doesn't have to be boring!

When learning is fun it's far more effective. We launched this site in 2007 based on this very idea.

If you're ready to make your musical journey more effective and way more fun, check out this list of incredible music theory games.

Note Naming

1) M&M Note Name Challenge

There might be a few music games that you think are more fun to play, but there probably isn't a game that you can name that is more delicious!

The M&M Note Name Challenge Music Theory Note Name Worksheet is one of our favorite ways to drill note names. Print this worksheet for FREE from and quiz students by placing a plain M&M candy on the treble or bass clef staff. If your student names the note correctly they get to eat the candy. If they name ten notes correctly, they win a bonus M&M.

M&M Note Name Challenge Worksheet

2) Hot Potato

If you teach general music, teach class piano, or have a family with several kids, a game of hot potato can be a fun way to learn the lines and spaces of the treble and bass clef staff.

Begin by asking your students to sit in a circle and grab a potato (or your favorite stuffed animal). Begin the game by tossing the potato to a player and calling out, "treble clef - line three." If the player answers the question correctly, they toss the potato to another player and challenge them to name a line or space of the treble or bass clef. If the player answers the question incorrectly, they are out until the next round of the game.

To modify the game for younger players play with only one clef or only lines or spaces.

3) Princess-Themed Color-by-Note/Rhythm Worksheets

These princess-themed worksheets combined crayons and kids. It's a match made in heaven! Choose a space to color, identify the note or rhythm, reference the chart at the bottom of the page to find out which crayon you need, and color the space.

Princess-Themed Color-by-Note/Rhythm Worksheet Pack

Time Signatures

4) Music Symbol Swat

Turn a repetitious review of time signatures into a hilarious game with "Music Symbol Swat."

Prepare to play by drawing a large circle on a whiteboard or large piece of paper filled with common and uncommon time signatures, and grab two fly swatters.

Next, review what each time signature means. (This part is just as tedious as flashcards, but the expectation of playing a game greatly heightens interest and in turn the potential for learning.)

Divide the class into two teams and hand a fly swatter to the first player on each team. Round by round, ask players to swat the correct answer to your questions, including:

Swat the key signature that is the same as common time. (4/4)
Swat the key signature that is the same as cut time (alla breve). (2/2)
Swat the key signature that says each measure will have 5 quarter notes. (5/4)
Swat the key signature that says each measure can be filled by a dotted half note. (3/4)
Swat any 1/8-note-gets-the-beat time signature. (3/8, 6/8, 9/8, 12/8)

The winning team is the one with the most correct answers.

5) Jump the Hoop

Hula hoops, music, and kids! This game combines them all for a lesson jam-packed with fun, and it's a winner with every age group.

Begin by placing several hula hoops around the classroom or on the lawn and ask 2-3 kids to stand in each hoop.

Tell students, "To play the game you will jump in and out of the hula hoop to the beat of the music. If you are in the right place when the music stops you will remain in the game. If you are in the wrong place when the music stops you will be out of the game until the next game starts. The team with the most remaining players wins."

Practice with "Did You Ever See A Lassie" in 3/4 meter.

Did you ever (jump) see a Lassie (jump),
A Lassie (jump),
A Lassie (jump),
Did you ever (jump) see a Lassie (jump),
Go this way (jump) and that (jump)?

Tell students, "Let play. The team with the most remaining players at the end of the game wins."

Play 2-3 rounds and ask, "How many beats do you hear in each measure?"

"Great! Let's switch to a song with a different number of beats per meter."

Music suggestions:

"Did You Ever See a Lassie" (3/4 Meter)
"We Will Rock You” (4/4 Meter)
"Spinning Wheel” (4/4 Meter)
"Mission: Impossible" (5/4 Meter)
"Take Five" (5/4 Meter)
"Blue Rondo a la Turk" (9/8 Meter)
"Theme from Superman" (12/8 Meter)

Key Signatures

6) Key Signature Bingo

Key Signature Bingo is another great game to play when you have a group of students. It can also be played by the student and teacher since it is in part a game of chance.

The easy bingo cards are a great place to start. When students are feeling confident with common major key signatures, introduce them to the advanced bingo cards that drill major and minor key signatures.

This game is more than a rote memory game. Students will gain a solid understanding of key signatures by the time they've played this game a few times. The game includes key signature identification cards, cards that ask questions about key signatures, and four-measure chorales that include all the essential information to help students identify the key signature.

Key Signature Bingo | Music Theory Game


7) The Rhythm Store™ | Music Theory Shopping Game

The Rhythm Store™ is a chance for kids to play with toys during their music lesson. It's a dream come true - and a great way to learn rhythmic values!

In this twist on the classic "Let's Play Store" game, the shopper (student) evaluates the value of each rhythm card that he/she has to spend, and pays the shopkeeper (teacher) for the toy they have chosen to purchase. Select a few toys from around the house, "price" them, and start shopping! If your student is running low on "cash" throw a sale! Rhythm cards and price tags are included.

The Rhythm Store™ | Music Theory Shopping Game

8) Tic-Tac-Toe

Begin by drawing the nine-box game board on the whiteboard or a large piece of paper. Next, write a four-beat rhythm in each of the nine boxes appropriate to the skill level of the class. Quarter notes, eighth notes and quarter rests work well with primary-age classes. Practice each rhythm by modeling it for the class.

Divide the class into 2 teams, assign an "X" to one team and "O" to the other, and play the game.

Students must clap the rhythm correctly to place their "X" or "0" in the box. The team that gets three in a row first is the winner.


9) Easter Egg Hunt

This game is a twist on the hot-cold game, with students performing piano (soft) sounds if the person who is "IT" is far from the plastic egg and forte (loud) sounds if they're close to it.

Teach students about four dynamic levels and their Italian terms:

Piano (Soft)
Mezzo Piano (Medium Soft)
Mezzo Forte (Medium Loud)
Forte (Loud)

Tell students, "I'm going to play a few sounds on the piano. Then I would like you to guess how loud I was playing using the Italian terms that you just learned." Play two-quarter note chords.

Pass out non-pitched percussion instruments and ask students to repeat what you play on the piano (both rhythmically and dynamically). Play two quarter note chords piano (soft) and ask them to echo what you played. Play two quarter note chords forte (loud) and ask them to echo what you played.

Start the game by choosing one student to send out of the room, hide a candy-filled plastic egg, invite the student back into the room, and let the fun begin.


10) Suck It Up! Game

The goal of Suck It Up! is to carry the answer squares with your straw to the game board. The first team to answer all 10 questions correctly wins the game. When the game begins, the first student in each line runs to the Suck It Up! Game board on the table across the room. They read the question and then run back to the other side of the room to find the correct answer square. The student then places one end of the straw in his/her mouth and the other on the answer square, and picks up the square by creating suction within the straw. The student then hurries from one side of the room to the other to deliver the answer square to the game board.

The second student in line may run to discover what the second question is as soon as the first student returns to his/her team and stands at the end of the line.

Students may not touch the answer squares until they are dropped on the game board. They may use their hands to place the square in the proper location on the game board.

Students selecting an incorrect answer may return with the square in their hands to select another answer.

Suck It Up! | Music Lesson Review Game

Becoming a "gold medal" musician begins with the commitment to achieve. We hope these games help make learning about music fun and help you stay committed to being your very best!

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