Category Archives: Cecilly’s Games

Note Swap Race

Cecilly has come up with another fly swatter game called Note Swat Race. She sent me the directions and I set up the picture above using my own cards.


Of course you don’t have to use my Fly Flash Cards, but  students like them. The cards pictured above  might have notes too small for beginning students,  so you can use these Large Fly Flash Cards for your younger students. Or just use any flash cards you have on hand. 

 I have a beginning student, and Cecilly has given me an idea to play this game using my Keyboard Fly Flash Cards. When I made these I was very tired of my old fly, so I drew another one. The purple hair was just for fun!


Please note that Cecilly only used 5 cards with her student when she played this, so use as many cards as you think are right for your student. You might want to start with 2 or 3 depending on the ability of your student. The great thing about Cecilly’s games is that the teacher can modify them in many ways.

Here are the directions in Cecilly’s own words. Thanks, Cecilly for sending this!

Note Swat Race

 Materials: 2 fly swatters, note flashcards (with notes on the staff) representing whichever notes you want to reinforce, and letter cards (2 per letter) for each note card. Timer if desired.

 Set up: Lay out the note cards in a semi-circle from lowest note to highest note on the floor. Give student the flyswatters (1 for each hand) and have him sit on his knees in the center of the semi-circle facing the middle point. You, the teacher sit opposite student on the outside of the semi-circle with the deck of letter cards (shuffled and face down).

 To Play: At “Go” take the first letter card from the deck and hold it up to show the student. The student then, as quickly as possible, swats the corresponding note. It can be in either clef, but the student can swat the bass clef notes with the LH flyswatter, and the treble with the RH swatter. After each correct swat, immediately show the next card. (I just tossed the letter cards on the floor in front of me once the note was slapped). The idea is to go as fast as possible till all cards have been swatted. Repeat if desired. Add more challenge by limiting the time with a timer.

 Objective: For my student, I wanted her to have to continually return to each note, thinking its name from the letter card. What was interesting is that in the first round, there were several sequences forcing her to go back and forth between the same few notes. She was able to associate the letters and notes more quickly after this sequence. Also, a few letters were repeated back to back, again allowing for immediate reinforcement of the note associations. For my student, we only had 5 notes on the floor, but as new notes are introduced in her book, we’ll repeat the game incorporating the new notes.


Filed under Cecilly's Games, Note Identification, Preschool Music Resources

Sign and Symbol Hunt — from Cecilly



This is a picture I took along the coastal highway in California where I was visiting for a few weeks. The clouds are descending down from the mountains, but you can still see a little bit of the Pacific Ocean in the right corner. What a beautiful state, and the people are so friendly! I look forward to visiting again some day.

While I was there Cecily sent me a new activity. I’ve already thought of different ways I can vary this activity, and I’m sure it will spark your imagination, too. Cecilly is really creative when it comes to thinking up new ways to make piano lessons more interesting.  She designed this as a refresher activity when students return from their summer break, as well as prepare new repertoire. I’m going to try this with all my festival pieces and see if it will help students put in expression from the very beginning. If you have a student who never notices what is on the page, try this out. I will be making some flash cards with signs and symbols, so check back for that.  

Here is the game in her own words. Thanks, Cecilly, for sending it to me.

Sign & Symbol Hunt

Materials needed: a specific piece of music you plan to prepare with a student
as part of their assignment, flashcards of all the signs & symbols present in
the score of that piece plus a few extra ones that aren’t in the score.

Set up: Place all the flash cards face up on the floor or table top in random

To play: Open the student’s book to the given piece you’ll be preparing and
introduce it by title, etc. Ask the student to take about 10 seconds to
carefully look over the music making mental notes of any signs and symbols he sees that
will help him learn the piece and play it musically. After this time, have the
student bring his book to the floor or table of flashcards and find as many of
the signs/symbols he can in the music on the flashcards. He can gather the cards
into a pile. There should be some left over because you placed extra ones.
Return to the piano with the book and cards. Then take the first card. Have
the student find this sign/symbol in the score, and then depending on the card,
help the student apply the sign/symbol at the piano. For example, if the card
is the time signature symbol for the meter of the piece, have him point along
the melodic line and count metrically. If the card is a slur sign, select a
phrase and challenge the student to play that phrase smoothly. If it’s a
dynamic sign, find where that dynamic marking is in the music and challenge the
student to play that phrase or section at that dynamic level. If it’s an 8va
higher sign, find it in the score and help the student practice making the 8va
move. So whatever the sign/symbol is, the student can “prepare” for this
element on the spot.

This will help draw the student’s attention to all the signs/symbols in the
score, refresh them in his mind AND fingers, and prepare the piece for his
assignment all in one fell swoop.




Filed under Cecilly's Games, Music Vocabulary

New Game from Cecilly

Cecilly sent me a new game that she has made up. I haven’t been able to play it because I’m on vacation right now. I’ll have to wait a while to put it in my game rotation. Thanks for sharing, Cecilly.

Hi All!

I tried out a new twist on a note spelling game that REALLY helped to
reinforce note identification…

Materials: 2 sets of approx. 7 note flashcards (1 set of treble notes, 1 set of
bass notes). I did not include any landmarks or guidenotes btw. 5 bingo chips
or markers, a set of spelling word cards, a 1 min. egg timer or stop watch.

Objective: to spell as many words within the 1 min. time limit. 3 letter
words=1 composer buck, 4 letter words=2, 5 letter words=3.

Set up: on the closed keyboard lid or table top, lay out one set of cards. Give
the student the chips. You manage the timer and spelling word cards.

To play: Show the first spelling word card. At “GO”, start the timer. the
student is to spell the word by placing a chip on the corresponding notes IN
ORDER to spell the word. If any chip is placed incorrectly, I simply make a
“bzz” sound and the student tries again. When a word is spelled correctly, I
stop the timer and allow the student to pick up the chips and get ready for the
next spelling word. The timer is started with the next word. Cont. play until
time is up. Add up the value of the words, and go on to round 2 using the 2nd
set of notes.

What was really helpful with this activity is that the students began to quickly
identify notes/letters that were repeated in the spelling words. This helped to
cement these notes into their memory.

I haven’t played the game yet mixing up treble and bass notes, but I’ll reserve
that variation for later.

The text in blue is from Cecilly, I’m sure if you have any questions about this game, leave a comment and she will answer it. In the meantime,

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Filed under Cecilly's Games


Cecilly has a new game called Triangulars. It is a floor activity and since I am not good at following written instructions, I drew the above diagram to show how the set up will look on the floor.  Don’t try to print it! 🙂

 Remember, you can use this activity for any kind of a challenge: notes, rhythm, keys, even vocabulary and symbols.  When we played it in my studio I didn’t have a prize to give them, so we  played for fun.  They liked it because it was something different. When I play with my preschool  students I think I’ll give them a sticker. Use this idea and adapt it  for your own situation. Here are Cecilly’s directions, in her own words.

Materials: 9 5″X7″ cards (in one color) numbered 1-9. 11 flashcards (I used
note name cards) to some degree smaller than the numbered cards. 11 discs or
playing pawns of some kind. Floor or table space.

Set up: Place the numbered cards in order clockwise in pairs around the #9 card
which is placed in the middle. For example, place 1 next to 2 in the 12 O’clock
spot, 3 above 4 in the 3 O’clock spot, 5 to the right of 6 in the 6 O’clock
spot, and 7 below 8 in the 9 O’clock spot. Remember, 9 is in the middle. This
should look a bit like an octagon. Allow a bit of space between sets of
numbers. Place the flashcards underneath the cards, 1 to a card except for 9
which will have 3 flashcards under it. Place the discs to the side.

Objective: To correctly identify any 3 triangular arrangements of cards that
include 1 of the pairings plus #9, creating a triangle. For example, 1,2 and 9;
3,4 and 9; 5,6 and 9, or 7,8 and 9.

To Play: Have student call out a # that is NOT 9. Take the flashcard from under
that # card for the student to identify. If correct, place the flashcard on top
of the # card along with one of the discs. That card is now earned. Student
should call out the other number in the pairing now, hoping to earn it too. If
earned, place it and the disc on top of the # card like the first one. Now, the
student must try for 1 of the flashcards under #9. If correct, place that
flashcard and 1 disc on the 9. This completes 1 Triangle. The student moves on
to try and complete another triangle that also includes #9. But this time, the
2nd flashcard is shown from under #9. If earned, place that flashcard and
another disc on #9 (so now there are 2 flashcards and 2 discs on #9). Cont. for
a 3rd triangle. If at some point, the student makes a mistake in identifying
the flashcard, that triangle is lost and they can try for the remaining
triangle. The goal remember is to earn 3 triangles including 9 in each one.

I awarded a Composer buck for each triangle earned.

You can use any kind of flashcards you like to review or drill whatever you
need with that student.

Click here to print Triangular cards which are the number cards I have posted here  for your convenience. You can print them if you don’t have time to make a set yourself.  These are in black and white with no graphics to help us save a little printer ink. They will look better printed on colored paper if you happen to have some.  Be sure and set your printer to landscape mode.

If any teacher uses this at a group lesson, please leave a comment on how you used it with a group.

Thanks for the game, Cecilly!


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Filed under Cecilly's Games, Group lesson ideas