The Amazing Keyboard Race

I had a wonderful extended weekend in Michigan, giving my presentations and spending time with my family!  Now I’m busy back at work, playing catch-up.  :)  However, I do have a little game I’d like to share with you today.

I am not the original inventor of this game, I’m sure — but in case you haven’t seen it before, here’s how to play this keyboard game with your beginner students!

I call this game “The Amazing Keyboard Race.”  It’s a great game for beginners who need more practice remembering the letter names of the piano keys.  It works well both in private piano lessons and in group classes.

Materials:

  • Game pieces — enough for as many players that will be playing.  You can use colored glass gems, buttons, erasers, etc.
  • A random way to choose a letter of the musical alphabet.  E.g., musical alphabet cards, a spinner, or dice.
  • Piano keyboard or a Silent Mini Keyboard.

Gameplay:

  • All game pieces start on the left side of the keyboard.
  • On each player’s turn, they must randomly choose a letter of the musical alphabet (via flashcard, spinner, etc.).  Let’s suppose the first player gets an “A.”  They must move their game piece to across the keyboard to the next “A.”  If a player incorrectly identifies a key or goes to the next octave instead of finding the very next “A,” they lose their turn.
  • Continue play by taking turns.  Game play ends when a player reaches the end of the keyboard!

Extensions:

  • Once students are comfortable finding the piano keys when moving from left to right on the keyboard, make the game harder by making the gameplay start on the right side of the keyboard and go towards the left.
  • This game is also perfect with students who have learned about sharps and flats.   Just add accidental flashcards or an accidental die to the game, so the possibilities include both black and white keys.

I created a ready-to-print pdf of the instructions above, if you are interested in downloading it.  Just visit the Printables > Games page and scroll down to the T’s for “The Amazing Keyboard Race game.”  Enjoy!

PG
Joy Morin is a piano teacher in Perrysburg, Ohio (United States) who enjoys keeping her teaching fresh with new ideas and resources. ColorInMyPiano.com serves as a journal of her adventures in piano teaching as well as a place to exchange ideas and resources.

Joy has blogged 930 posts here.

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10 Comments

  1. Posted 15 March 2012 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Ooh, I love it! The first thought that came to my mind when I saw the photo was using it for intervals – just the interval quantity for beginners & quality for my theory students. Love your sparkly stones!

    • Posted 16 March 2012 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

      Intervals is a great idea too! Those stones have lots of uses.

  2. Posted 15 March 2012 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    brilliant! I love this. Will definitely be using this in my studio. Thanks for all the excellent ideas…..isn’t the internet great for sharing teaching ideas and inspiration??

  3. Posted 19 March 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    I love the name you gave this game! Sometimes a brilliant name is enough to get kids excited. There are so many possibilities for this. Maybe adding a timing element to the game as well where each player has to be the quickest to find the correct key would be fun in a group lesson. Or you could have teams do this by relay. The fastest team wins! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Julie
    Posted 24 April 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I’ve used this game with note names and intervals. I’ve used flashcards with note names or flashcards where they had to read on the staff to determine the note name. Usually when we play this in private lessons I would start on one end and the student on the other and we’d race each other to the opposite end of the piano. Sometimes I didn’t use anything to randomize the note names, but had the student come up with which note I should go to myself. That way s/he had to figure out by looking at the keyboard which note would make me race the slowest.

  5. jane
    Posted 3 August 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    oh my GOSH! what TIMING!! if you could see my living room floor…i left the tsunami stacks of “piano camp” games and supplies and materials to come here and check email…only to find your post on ORGANIZING this same stuff!!! i can’t believe it…am dividing games and storing in LARGE ziploc bags, with instructions, and using smaller ziplocs for cards and smaller pieces and games. i am still struggling with how and where to keep it all, b/c some will only be used in group classes through the year, and others in studio weekly, and if i store them all away TOO well, i know i won’t remember or use them…i need a secretary….!!!!!! THANK YOU for making MY summer of little “piano camps” so much fun!! the students have LOVED IT!! i named it “Adventures at Sea (C)” and divided up students according to LEVELS (last summer i grouped everyone, and older students were bored at times, understandably, and beginners were lost…even though getting older ones to mentor younger ones is great, it’s not fair to them…i named the groups different sea creatures (starfish, sharks, dolphins, etc.) and made the activities fit their level — i used SO many of the games you offer, and other PINTEREST bounty as well — i love how easy and accessible you make the PDFs and printables…. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! i think you and i could be fast friends……same energy and humor level…SO important!! jane

  6. Elyssa
    Posted 8 April 2014 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    I have a student who recently transferred to my studio and she has a lot of trouble identifying the keys on the keyboard. She’s been playing for almost 2 years and because her previous teacher never helped her master that fundamental skill and kept pushing her along, she has struggled a lot! So we play this game a LOT! The only thing I do differently is that I added in a couple of “Glissando” cards into the mix. Whenever someone draws one of those cards, they have to “slide” back to the beginning! (Then those cards stay out of the draw pile) It keeps things interesting and fun, especially when playing with more than one student! Thanks so much for posting this game! It’s been a life saver!

    • Posted 8 April 2014 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      I loved reading your comment this afternoon, Elyssa! The glissando card is a great idea!! I’m glad this game has worked out so well for your transfer student.

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