# Tag Archives: key signatures

## Fifteen Keys – A Key Signature Game

In our state theory test, students in the 6th grade need to know all of the major key signatures.  Minor keys are added in the 7th grade.  Like many teachers, I show them how to use a chart to help with accuracy and possible careless mistakes.

This year I made a board game to give students some guided practice in using a chart and learning key signatures. First we downloaded a blank chart and filled it out. You can get it below.

Blank Key Signature Chart

I encourage you to use this chart with the game, too, unless your students are very experienced in key signatures. One good thing about this game is that by using the chart, even beginning students can play.

I had fun making the cards for this game.  Some of the cards have silly riddles and puns on the word “key.”  I hope your students enjoy the humor. I thought of more riddles after I made the cards, and if you think of any, let me know!  The answers to the riddles are here.*

This game is similar to the Nine Keys Game that I posted a few years ago, except that this one has all new cards,  and the Nine Keys Game only has, well, 9 key signatures, rather than 15! Nine Keys

There are 7 pages in this PDF. The last page is an optional back to the cards. You will need to print the cards separately because I formatted the cards  for a business card template, such as this one on Amazon. First, I printed just the game board on card stock. Then I inserted the business card stock and printed the cards. Finally, I reinserted the cards and printed the backs. If you don’t have business card stock, connect the short lines and cut them out. But I am so happy to use the business cards! [I also found the business card stock at Sam’s for less.]

I’ve played this two ways. The longer version has the tokens moving all over the game board, backwards and forwards, which makes it fun, but takes a little longer to finish.

### Ages

• This game is for middle school students, but I’ve successfully played it with younger students.
•  Remove the minor key cards from the deck to play with students who are learning only major keys.
• The game is also good for group lessons or music camps.
• It helps if students have a basic understanding of key signatures, but it is not a requirement if they use the chart.

### Material

• Fifteen Keys, the free printable game board from my website.
• Key signature chart, or Circle of Fifths chart
• The cards, cut or separated.
• A small game token for each player.
• If you don’t know how to print individual pages of a PDF, go here and scroll down.

### Directions

#### Fast version

• Place the key signature chart in full view.
• Players take turns drawing a game card. Depending on the card, they either move forward to the key on the card, or answer the question and follow the directions. Students can look at the chart to find the names of the key signatures.
• If they draw a key signature that is not located past their token, they do not move to a key they have already passed, but draw again.
• The game is over when a player lands on or moves past “win.”

#### Slower version

• Place the key signature chart in full view.
• Players take turns drawing a game card. Depending on the card, they either move forward to the key on the card, or answer the question and follow the directions. Students can look at the chart to find the names of the key signatures.
• If it is a key signature card, the player moves to the closest key signature specified on the card, even it they have to move backwards to a key they have already passed by.
• The game is over when a player draws the exact number to land on “win” or when a player moves past “win.”

### Objectives

• To learn to quickly identify all the major and/or minor key signatures.
• To learn how to draw and use a key signature chart.

This game works on identifying key signatures. However, I have also made some worksheets for writing key signatures. If your students have trouble learning how to draw key signatures on a staff for written tests or composing, these are a lot of help!

Simple Sharps

Fearless Flats

Down a 5th, Up a Fourth

Up a 4th, Down a Fifth

The Noteboys Circle of Fifths Poster

*Riddles:

• 3 things that need a key: House, car, scale, door, music, etc.
• What barnyard bird can open doors: Tur”key”.  (or Turn”key”)
• Key signature’s favorite dance: Ho”key” Po”key”
• What jungle animal loves key signatures? Mon”key”
• What barnyard animal sings off key? Don”key”
• When you are slow you may be called: Pokey
• What kind of key can you type on: Keyboard
• Another name for the tonic is: the Keynote

## Nine Keys – a Key Signature Board Game

If your students take a standardized theory test like mine do, you know how hard it is for some students to learn key signatures. My fifth grade students need to know nine key signatures for the TMTA theory test, so I created a fun board game that they enjoy.

I find that if I make something colorful and kind of silly, they all want to play. And as they play, they learn, even if I have to help them at first. Like we all do, I teach students how to figure out key signatures by themselves using the circle of 5ths. But  it is a good idea to learn to identify them quickly, because it gives students confidence. As time goes by, they realize the benefits of knowing key signatures quickly, just as knowing multiplication tables quickly gives them confidence in math.

## How To Print

Read this section before you print all 4 pages. To download, click the link under the image above. This printable PDF includes 4 pages.The first page is the game board. The next two pages are the calling cards. I made the calling cards to fit on business card templates that are perforated for easy separation so that I don’t have to cut them. If you don’t have business card templates, there are some hash marks for you to draw a few lines to help you cut out the cards. The last page is the optional back to the cards.

Under the Pages to Print instructions in the pop-up box, select “Pages”, and then type 1-3.  In order to print on the back, insert pages 2 and 3 into your printer and type 4  in the Pages selection box. You will need to know which side of the paper your printer prints on, so test that out before you waste paper.

## Materials

• Nine Keys, the free printable game board from my website
• The cards, cut or separated, and (optional) printed on the back
• Two game tokens, such as old car keys or key charms from a craft store

## Directions

• Students should have a basic understand of key signatures in order to play. They might need help with the answers at first, and that is how they will learn.
• Student and teacher take turns drawing a calling card and moving to the correct key signature or following the directions on the card. The player who lands on the last key wins. My students really love the card that says, “If you know the definition of Key Signature, move up 8 spaces. If you are the teacher, lose a turn.” Every time I draw that card I moan and groan, saying, “Who made the rules to this game, anyway?” and my students love it!

## Objectives

• To learn to quickly identify the major key signatures of C, G, D, A, E, F, B flat, E flat, and A flat.

## Ages

• Elementary to early middle school

## Why I like this activity

• I used business card templates for the cards, so there is nothing to cut out!
• It is colorful and students like color.
• Students had fun when they played the game. They love it when I lose and I make sure I lose a lot!

Please let me know if you can use more key signature games or worksheets.

Filed under Games, Texas State Theory Test, Theory

## Colorful Key Signature Chart

I’ve been too busy to post lately. I’m working on a lot of things for my students, but none are ready for the internet. I did manage to finish this keyboard chart that I started a long time ago. I have made several others, but I wanted something with colors my older students would like to see as a poster in my studio.

Click the link under the picture to go to my website where you can get your own copy of this free printable, without the watermark at the top. The watermark is for Pinterest, which I have been gradually adding things. You can get a lot of great music teaching ideas there.

There are some previous versions of this chart posted that use a lot less ink, so check around if that is a concern.

I have started some other printables using this same theme. If you want to subscribe to my website so you can know when I post them, click on the subscription on the top right. You will remain anonymous and it is very easy to unsubscribe if you wish. Thank you to all my supporters from around the globe. You are very much appreciated!

Filed under Teaching Aids, Theory

## Fishy Scales Revised with a Very Sad Minor Fish!

Minor                                 Major

Fishy Scales

If you’re not using Fishy Scales to motivate your students to practice 5-finger scales, cross-overs, or octave scales, you might want to try this out for the new teaching year with your elementary age students.  They are recently revised after a suggestion from one of my students to draw the minor fish “sad-looking.” I’m sharing the new design with you. (The major fish is the same.)

Now it is easier to identify minor sounds because students can relate it to the fish. Younger students are always asking me why some of the fish are a different color, and this is a good opportunity to let them hear the difference in major and minor chords.

After I started using Fishy Scales my students practice their scales with more enthusiasm. I make a fish for each student, and as they learn a scale they are very excited to write the name in the “scale” on their fish. When they complete a scale set, I give them their fish to keep and we post a new one for the next set.

I keep them on my wall with  reusable lightweight mounting strips, which come in all sizes. They are very easy to remove when I don’t want “fish” on my piano room wall, and easy to replace.

Print them out on card stock for best results, and cut each page on the lines. There is no need to cut out each fish individually. My students also write on the card what they are working on, such as Octave Scales or 5-Finger Scales.

Thanks to Arlene Steffen for the idea for Fishy Scales. It really is a lot of fun, good motivation, and is very easy for a teacher to implement.