Category Archives: Cecilly’s Games

Note Spelling Bee from Cecilly

Music Alphabet Words

Cecilly sent me a new activity she is using with her students and I made some cards to go with it. I like the way Cecilly has included identifying intervals in this activity because that is very important in my studio.  

There are 8 pages of words in this printable PDF, ranging from 3 to 7 letter words. When I made these cards, I carefully designed them for the smallest amount of cutting necessary. If you don’t have a large staff, there are many to choose from on my website and some more here (scroll down).  The following was written by Cecilly.

Spelling/Interval Bee

Materials: A Grand staff board with up to 7 plastic transparent discs (bingo
chips) and file cards with as many spelling words that you can think of written
on the cards (BAG, CAGE, DEAF, FEED, ACE, CABBAGE, EDGE, etc.).

Set Up: I have laminated my staff board and placed a little blob of poster putty
on the back of each bingo chip so they can be positioned on the staff and not
slide off, but this isn’t necessary to do the activity. Using a table or the floor, sit across from the student. The staff board and
chips are for the student and the spelling word cards are for the teacher.

To Play: Shuffle the spelling cards and place face down on the table. Draw the
first card and call out the word, showing the word to the student. He in turn is
to spell the word using the bingo chips and placing them on whatever line or
space corresponds to the letters in the word. However, use only one clef at a
time. The chips should be placed in order of each letter in the word and in a “melodic” fashion on the staff. Repeated letters should be represented by different note locations. Allow a few moments for the student to spell the word. Once spelled accurately on the staff, ask the student to dictate the interval path of the melody created by the chips to you out loud (F down a 2nd E, up an 8va E, down a 2nd D: FEED). Then have him play the interval path on the piano if desired. Remove the chips and cont. with another word to spell. Make sure to play on each clef. Play as long as you wish.

Objective: There are really 3 objectives to this activity: 1) Identifying basic notes on the staff, 2) Melodic interval recognition and tracking, and 3) Playing the notes where they live intervallically on the piano.

Variations: Play with multiple students just like a spelling bee.




Filed under Cecilly's Games, Note Identification, Theory

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