Games, Music Theory

Musical Jenga!

I did it!  I created my own Musical Jenga game.

I got the inspiration from the Sing A New Song blog, who in turn got the idea from someone on the Faber Piano Adventures forums. (To view a list of other favorite games with musical spins, click here.)

I found an off-brand version of the Jenga game at Target for about $5.  Then using two different colored Sharpie permanant markers, I put various musical terms on the blocks:

The blue side is for beginner piano students (intended for beginner, pre-readers with at least 6 months of lessons), and the black side is more advanced (intended for on-staff readers with 1-2 years of study).  The great thing about having two levels in one game is that you can have students of different levels play the same game together without the more advanced students having such an advantage over the less advanced students.

How the game works: each student pulls a block from the tower on their turn (from anywhere but the top layer) and must define the term/clap the rhythm on the block.  If they answer incorrectly, they must pull another block from the tower.  Pulled blocks must be gently put back onto the top of the tower.  If the tower collapses while a student is pulling a block, that player is the loser and the previous player is the winner.

I haven’t had the opportunity to try it with any students yet, but if it turns out to be a success I may make another game with “Level 3” and “Level 4” terms.  =)

In case you are interested, below are the terms I used.  Many of the same musical terms are on the easy level as in the harder level.  This is to allow the flexibility of playing with only one side if needed, and still get all the necessary terms covered during the game.  However, I was careful to put them on the same block so that the same terms wouldn’t keep popping up in the game as often when playing with a mixture of levels.


  1. Quarter note | same
  2. Half note | same
  3. Dotted half note | same
  4. Whole note | same
  5. Quarter rest |same
  6. Half rest | same
  7. p | same
  8. mp | same
  9. mf | same
  10. f | same
  11. slur/legato (drew a slur over three notes) | same
  12. staccato (drew staccato marks under three notes) | same
  13. fermata | accents (drew accents under three notes)
  14. LH | sharp
  15. RH | flat
  16. Treble clef | same
  17. Bass clef | same
  18. Barline | same
  19. Measure | same
  20. Staff | same
  21. Repeat sign | same
  22. Double bar | same
  23. 3/4 | same
  24. 4/4 | same
  25. 2/4 | same
  26. C on the keyboard (drew section of keyboard and put a dot on “C”) | C on the staff.
  27. D on keyboard | D on staff
  28. E on keyboard | E on staff
  29. F on keyboard | F on staff
  30. G on keyboard | G on staff
  31. A on keyboard | A on staff
  32. B on keyboard | B on staff
  33. Finger 1 (to “define” or answer this one, they just have to hold up the correct finger) | natural
  34. Finger 2 | rit.
  35. Finger 3 | tie
  36. Finger 4 | 4th (interval)
  37. Finger 5 | 5th (interval)
  38. unison | same
  39. Step (drew two notes on the staff and wrote “Interval?”) | same
  40. Skip | same
  41. 8va | same
  42. rhythm 1 (students must correctly clap the 2-3 measure rhythm) | rhythm 1 (more challenging than the easy side)
  43. rhythm 2 | rhythm 2
  44. rhythm 3 | rhythm 3
  45. rhythm 4 | rhythm 4
  46. rhythm 5 | rhythm 5
  47. rhythm 6 | rhythm 6
  48. rhythm 7 | rhythm 7

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20 thoughts on “Musical Jenga!”

  1. I found my “jenga” knock off for $3 for 42 blocks. It took 4 stores before I finally found the game! Cleveland Piano Teachers Organization is putting on a Piano Olympics in April and need new ideas/games that are different from the last event. We can have several rounds of this game at the same time especially with the blocks are so inexpensive.

    1. Jenga blocks only have the word “Jenga” stamped on the sides. There is still plenty of room on the top and bottom of the block to write anything you want. 🙂 That said, I did find a cheap off-brand version of Jenga at Target for much cheaper than Jenga normally costs. Best of all, the off-brand version did not have any words stamped on it. 🙂

  2. Following our recitaks we have game week. I said to my daughter in law too bad there isnt a music jenga. So I searched and found you. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi Joy.

    Thanks for this brillant idea. I’m going to introduce it to my students and I’m sure that we will have a blast! 🙂

  4. You could also just number the blocks and then type out a list of questions that correspond to the number on the blocks. The master question copy would just be on the table in front of them. That way you could adapt the game to composer facts as well as music theory facts, tempo terms, etc.

  5. I got mine in a dollar store for- yes- $1 each.
    I am in a process to create a rhythm pattern game for 3 teams( hot 3 towers)
    Each team member pulls the rhythm pattern and reads it while others pat steady beat. The team to accomplish ( complete the tower) first is a winning team .
    I hope to try it out by May
    Thank you for sharing your ideas!

  6. /Users/tandk91/Desktop/IMG_5937.jpg

    Musical Jenga has been a success! Fun for students….but helps me see what students know and don’t know….. Going to make a regular appearance next year!

  7. What a great idea! I teach high school and we have 85 minute long classes. I sometimes need some fun time-fillers just like this. Really appreciate you sharing this!

    1. I’m glad you were happy to find the Musical Jenga idea! Yes, I can see where having this sort of thing handy would be useful when you are teaching in 85 minute long classes — wow! 🙂 Best wishes, Joy

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