Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Printables, Teaching Piano

Spell-A-Keyboard Game

This morning with my homeschool music class, I played this game with my students:

As I was lesson planning last night, I was trying to think of a new way to practice the names of the piano keys.  My homeschool music class is mostly a music history class, but we’ve been learning basic music/piano concepts too.  My students already know how to figure them the piano key names by counting from Middle C, but they need more practice to get them memorized.  So I came up with this game, which I called the “Spell-A-Keyboard Game.”

My students loved this game!  I gave them each a set of cards with words containing only A-G (I gave them only the three-letter words for today) and a silent keyboard or paper keyboard, and three glass gems (pennies or buttons work too).  Then I instructed them to “spell” the words from each flashcard by covering the right keys with glass gems.  If you are playing this game with students at the piano, you can require that students spell the letters in order from left to right, but on a silent keyboard there might not be room to do so (as in the example shown in the photo).

This game is a great way to practice the piano key names without it actually feeling like a drill!  My students really enjoyed seeing how quickly they could spell the words and were pretty proud of their work each time.

You can download the “Musical Alphabet Word Flashcards” on the Printables > Games page.  When I created the cards, I tried to pick mostly words that kids would know.  Enjoy!

Update: I just realized that Susan Paradis plays a game very similar to this, except the words are spelled on the staff!  Read more here.

Update: Read about the outdoor version of this game here, where I describe my Musical Olympics Camp.

Update: I also found a way to adapt this game to be used with two floor keyboards indoors, with two teams.  Click here for more info.

17 thoughts on “Spell-A-Keyboard Game”

    1. Thank you, Patty! I’ve surprised myself with how often these little pianos have been useful. They are great for anytime you are working with groups. :)

  1. Love this!! I too am a piano teacher (roughly 11 years) and pianist. This is amazing! I am also a first year music teacher and will def. be using this in my music class!! Thanks!

  2. Used this tonight with my young beginner. It’s a private lesson so used the actual piano. He seemed to enjoy it.

    I’ve just discovered your website and am finding it really helpful. I am fairly new to teaching so I can use all the help I can get. Thanks for the great ideas.

  3. Hi Joy! I love your blog and am looking forward to making the large floor version of this game for my monthly group classes :)

    You mentioned you do a music history class for homeschool students… do you have any other posts or information about that? How do you craft a syllabus for your different age groups, and how do you get these classes started? As an aspiring musicologist I’d love to get something like that going during the day before my afternoon lessons.

  4. I did this the other day with a boy who had forgotten his books. I had a little white board, and just made up this silly story on the spot, writing down words he could spell. It started off about me having BEEF, an EGG, and some honey from a BEE for breakfast. At one point in the story DAD came in the room and started to GAB. (annoying because all i wanted was a nap). He laughed especially hard when I wrote that I made a GAG FACE.
    Thanks for the link to the DIY keyboard (was wondering where a fellow teacher had acquired that) and Susan’s game. Excited to play this game more often.

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