Organizing Games

One of the questions that arose during the presentation about music games (see the handout here) that I gave last week for the Summit County OMTA chapter and at the 2014 conference was…

How do you organize your games?

You may remember some months back when I blogged about finding this little filing cabinet at a second-hand store.  Here is how I decided to use all those wonderful drawers:


Those drawers contain materials for games that can be played during private lessons with students.  It sits next to me where I teach at the piano.  The six drawers are currently categorized:

  1. Office Supplies — colored pens, Post-It notes, notepads, etc.
  2. Props/Improv [pictured below] — Japanese puzzle erasers, various props for teaching hand shape, Rory’s Story Cubes (thanks goes to a reader who recently sent me the “Action” set from my Amazon wishlist!), and the Flashcards for Composition/Improvisation.
  3. Rhythmrhythm cards, Rhythm Train Game, Rhythmic Value Cards, etc.
  4. Note I.D.musical alphabet word cards, spinners, note-naming flashcards, etc.
  5. Intervals/KeysIce Cream Interval game, keys, key signature flashcards, etc.
  6. Dry Erase Markers — At group classes, we use dry erase markers and mini erasers frequently for our listening sheets.

You’ll notice that these categories align with the concepts listed in the handout.  Games are most effective when we are choosing them in terms of the concepts they teach our students.

Here is the Props/Improv drawer:


In the little black drawstring bag, I have a set of Scrabble tiles containing only the letters of the musical alphabet.  I bought my Scrabble game used at Goodwill.  I use the tiles as another way for students to randomly choose a letter of the musical alphabet (we sometimes use a spinner instead).  They work great for The Amazing Keyboard Race, for example.  Students can also sort the tiles onto the piano keys.


In the drawers across the room, I store my floor staff and the games that work only for group classes. 


Please feel free to share in the comments about your organizational system!

P.S.:  The live sessions may be over, but it’s not too late to register for the 2014 conference and have the opportunity to watch the session videos on your own time.  Visit their website for more info.

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

Joy has blogged 1142 posts here.

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  1. KathyG
    Posted 13 February 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Aha! Thanks, Joy, for sending these photos. My approach to organizing (not just games but everything in my studio) tends to be inconsistent, haphazard and overly esoteric. I appreciate the wisdom of keying the drawers of games and props to the larger concepts on the handout (which is awesome, by the way). The concepts are logical and obvious, though I don’t know that I would have made the connection without your wonderful presentation. I have a large filing cabinet that I bought for filing music, but it almost too big. I am a very visual person, and I have a bad habit of ‘needing’ to see everything in order to be triggered to do something about it. Lots of small drawers is much more doable. I am going to do a little work around the studio this weekend. Thanks again.

    • Posted 14 February 2014 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      I am a visual person, too. I like having everything labeled and in sight! :)

  2. Posted 14 February 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    I need to rearrange my teaching space to make room for some drawers like yours. I also love the idea of using scrabble tiles for the music alphabet. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Posted 14 February 2014 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      My students love the Scrabble tiles! I suppose it would also work to make your own set using blank wooden tiles from a craft store and a permanent marker.

  3. Sarah Coley
    Posted 14 February 2014 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Joy, thank you for sharing this information! I have been contemplating how to organize my games more effectively. (Especially, as I am moving into a new studio space in the next few months.) I love the idea of using drawers like you were able to find. I also thought that I would share the following information on a similar cabinet for other teachers now looking for one. IKEA has a $39.99 6-drawer cabinet available (called Helmer) that looks very similar to yours. I think I that is probably what I will end up using.

    • Posted 14 February 2014 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      Ooo, that IKEA drawer unit looks great! Here is the direct link for anyone who is looking for something with drawers. Thanks, Sarah!

  4. Leeanne Lane
    Posted 14 February 2014 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Joy, I was excited to see this post as I was the one that asked that question at the conference! It made me happy to see this follow-up! I love the pictures! Also, I wanted you to know that I spent a couple hours this last week printing/laminating games and had a great time using a couple of them in lessons. I used the finger number beanbag game with a young beginner and he loved it. Anyway, thanks for the time and creativity you put in on this web sight. It’s helped me a lot!

    • Posted 24 February 2014 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

      Yes, thanks for the great question during MusicEdConnect, Leeanne! :) I’m so glad to hear you and your students are enjoying some new music games!

  5. Hulda Budilestari
    Posted 17 February 2014 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Oh boy…. don’t I need this!! I have been organising them in nice boxes, but getting them out without moving another boxes stacked on top each other is very inconvenience. THANKS for sharing!

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