Tag Archives: piano teaching games

Autumn Rhythm Tic Tac Toe

Autumn Rhythm Tic Tac Toe

Autumn Rhythms Tic Tac Toe

Today I am posting a seasonal game to review note values such as dotted quarter notes and eighth notes.  I included stems going up and down to help students become familiar with that.

This game is  played like Tic Tac Toe using bingo chips. It is for two players, but it is easily modified for more students and played like Bingo.

Regular readers will notice this is similar to the Bats and Cats Rhythm Game. However, I remade the small cards to include more patterns and I changed the levels some.  Now I need a year round theme so I’m taking suggestions!

There are two levels included. The second level  is a great game to reinforce dotted quarter notes. Some children don’t know how to add fractions, so adding 1  1/2  +  1/2 is too much for them.  Of course we all have those students who seem to understand anything related to math without the teacher having to explain it!  They like this game, too.

There are 5 pages in this PDF document: a game board, 2 levels of cards to cut out, and the backs for each level.

I advise printing the backs to the small cards to help you quickly distinguish the levels for fast set-up.


  • To quickly add beats in rhythm patterns


  • Bingo tokens, a different color for each player. [Suggestions for tokens include inexpensive colored erasers or pieces of cut out construction paper. Colored bingo chips are available online. ]
  • One game board for two players. If playing in groups, 1 card for each player.
  • Calling cards with the appropriate level for the student.


  • Print the game board on card stock or photo paper and laminate, if desired.
  • Print one page of the calling cards. Turn the page over and print the “back” of  the calling cards. Check out my FAQ for hints on how to do it.
  • Cut the calling cards along the dotted lines. Place in a stack face down.
  • The calling cards contain notes and/or rests worth 1, 2, 3, or 4 beats (in 4/4 time.) The game board has squares with one note or rest worth 1, 2, 3. or 4 beats.
  • Player one draws a calling cards and counts the notes/rest value. He places a bingo chip on a square with that note value.
  • This is repeated by the second player, with a different colored bingo chip.
  • Play continues in this manner until a player has a chip on 3 squares in a row in any direction, including diagonally, as if the players are playing Tic Tac Toe.
  • An alternate way to play is to give each player a game board. Players take turns drawing a card and putting a bingo chip on the correct square. The object is to be the first player with all their squares covered.
  • Note: If a player draws a card that has no note left with that rhythm value, he is not able to place a chip on the board and it becomes the next players turn.

Why I like it:

This is a simple game and it’s easy and fast to play. But it really works and you will see your students improve their ability to count rhythms and to quickly add them up. One teacher, Louise, who played the Halloween version, left this message a few years ago:

Thank you so much for this game, Susan. I have played it with my Grade 2 students and found that although they were hesitant at first, when adding up the dotted notes and the grouped semiquavers and quavers, after a couple of games they were seeing at a glance how many beats were in the groupings. Such a useful game. I may bring it out even when it isn’t Halloween!


Filed under Games, Holiday Activities and Worksheets, Rhythm

Rhythm Race Music Game for Intermediate and Elementary Levels


Rhythm Race Game Board

Intermediate Rhythm Race Cards

Easy Rhythm Race Cards

(I reposted these files to include the “sentence” cards that I accidentally left off. You will need to reload the page to see the new files.)

Rhythm Race is a quick game for 2 or more players. I made the game for students who are learning to count more difficult rhythms, such as dotted eighth notes and triplets. Students count the rhythms on their card, and then move to a note on the game board that equals that value. After my intermediate students played Rhythm Race, I noticed they were noticeably improved in their ability to count difficult rhythms.

I designed this game for older students, but when some of my younger ones saw it, they wanted a version, too!

The cards are designed for a business card template, but you can use card stock and cut them out. I found a good deal on photo paper at a discount store, so I laminated that for the game board, and it really pops out the colors.

Print only the front (the rhythm cards) for the level you need. Then reinsert the cards and print the back design, – the cards with checkered flags.  I find it necessary to have the backs of each level a different color so I can quickly get the correct cards ready for a student.

If you are playing with different ages in a group lesson, students can draw from their theory level and still play together.


  • To review rhythms, including dotted eighth notes and sixteenths notes


  • Grades 1-7, using the appropriate level cards

 Number of Players

  • Two or more players. The teacher can play with a student, or students can play in a group lesson


  • Game board and rhythm card printables
  • A  small token for each player


  • Print the game board. Print the cards on one side and then Mui and print on the back of the cards. Separate or cut the cards.
  • Mix the cards up so that the sentence cards are mixed evenly with the rhythm cards.
  • Each player puts their token on “start”. The first player draws a card and counts the rhythm. Moving clockwise, the student moves his/her token to the first note on the board with the same value as their card.
  • Decide how many “laps” are need to win.  One lap takes about 5 minutes. Remove some of the penalty cards to speed up the game.
  • Players take turns drawing cards and moving their token on the board.
  • If all the cards are used, shuffle and keep playing.
  • The first player to pass “start” is the winner.

Why I Like This Game

  • It doesn’t take much lesson time.
  • When I play this game with students, I discover right away what they know and what they need work on. So it is like a worksheet or achievement test, only a lot more fun!


Filed under Games, Group lesson ideas, Intermediate Students, Rhythm

Fifteen Keys – A Key Signature Game

Fifteen Keys

 Fifteen Keys

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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


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.”


  • 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


  • 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



Filed under Games, Group lesson ideas, Intermediate Students, Music Printables, Texas State Theory Test

Baseball Keyboard Race

BaseballNoteRace     Baseball Keyboard Race

This game is absolutely the best way to identify the piano keys quickly. Even if you think you don’t have time for games in your lesson, you have time for this one! It’s fast and fun.

When I posted my first keyboard race game, I had no idea that using erasers to learn piano keys was going to become so popular! From the beginning, my goal has been to revolutionize piano lessons into something more fun and engaging by using hands-on activities that are educational. The fact is, children of all ages retain information and learn faster when the learning medium is fun.

I have never posted keyboard cards for this time of the year. I have pumpkins, elves, shamrocks, and snowflakes, but nothing for the spring and summer. So here they are! As a bonus, this game coordinates with the Let’s Play Ball worksheet, so you can use them together. It takes me so long to draw something, I like to use the art again!

For those of you who are new to teaching, here are the directions to the game. I don’t use the cards with the sharps and flats for beginners, but they come in handy when students get to that point in their music education.


  • To quickly identify piano keys.
  • To identify middle C.
  • Optional: to identify B flat and F sharp.


  • Piano keyboard.
  • Keyboard Race Cards.
  • Two tokens (Inexpensive erasers will not damage your keyboard.)


  • This is a two-player game, usually the teacher and student.
  • The teacher sits on the right side and the students sits on the left side of the piano bench, at each end of the piano. The students chooses if he/she wants to play with the “glove” or “baseball” cards.
  • Each player has one set of cards and one token, and places the their cards on the piano book rack. Shuffle the cards well.
  • The first player turns a card and moves his token to that piano key, the closest to his end of the piano.  The second player does the same.
  • Play continues with each player drawing a card and moving his token toward the middle of the keyboard.
  • The game is over when one player passes the middle of the keyboard. I like to use middle C with my young students.
  • Note: The player on the right side (treble end) usually loses, so that’s where I sit. Games are more fun for students if they win.

Why I like this game

  • My students love it and want to play it over and over.
  • It is the fastest and most fun way to learn keyboard names.

If you want to see cards for other times of the year, here are some links.


Filed under Games, Music Printables, Note Identification