Games, Questions

Forum Q&A: Games for Note-Naming Flashcards

Middle_CLast week, we had a Forum Q&A discussion about health insurance for self-employed individuals (such as piano teachers).  It has been great to hear all of your feedback about this important issue, and I have found it helpful with my research!

I have a new question for you today.  Your responses will be helpful when I post a new freebie printable later this week!  😉

Please share any game ideas you have that involve note-naming flashcards.  The games can be for either solo lesson or group class settings.  

I can’t wait to hear about your game ideas!

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11 thoughts on “Forum Q&A: Games for Note-Naming Flashcards”

  1. I use simple timing drills. Children are timed with a stop watch on a set of cards. Each child can compete against himself to beat his score. You can use as few or as many cards as you want. So a child at almost any level can participate in this activity. I hope to use this as part of my summer incentive program for earning tickets to use at our end of summer party. When child beats his fastest score he gets a ticket!
    I have also conducted a tournament. Two students compete. I hold up a card and the one who names it first gets the card. The one with the most cards at the end wins. Play continues between students until a champion is determined. This is an activity to be conducted at a party or group class.

    1. I love your tournament approach to it. I play it in a slightly different way: they are timed, and they need to beat their own personal record BUT when they get a card wrong, that goes in the wrong pile. We then go over the wrong pile till everything is correct (if they still get it wrong, then another wrong pile forms – and we keep going till there is no wrong pile). Then time stops.

  2. For young students,
    1) Path to reading music: make a path along the floor leading to a surprise; a new song, a favorite old song, a reward, etc. They have to name the note correctly before moving along the path.
    2) Relay game; have cards in a pile away from the piano. Students take the card to the keyboard, name and play the note then go get another card.
    3) Hide cards around your music studio. Students find the cards, then name and play them.
    In games two and three, if they answer correctly they keep the card and move on to complete the rest, if they’re incorrect, they have to put it at the bottom of the pile so it comes up again.
    If you teach these simple games to parents, then parents can play them at home with their children. 🙂

  3. I recently posted a collection of ideas from fellow bloggers on my piano game resource list. One that I play with groups is Note slalom spelling bee. Students race across obstacles to fetch the correct cards to spell a word. I guess this could be adapted for private lessons too if you use a stopwatch to see how fast they can spell different 3 letter words.

  4. In my group lessons we like to play the fly-swatter game. It has to be tightly-controlled by me! Each student (usually 3) gets a clean fly-swatter & I lay down a card. The first one to swat & name the note gets that card, BUT if they can’t name it right away, they don’t get it & it goes to the next kid (so, no guessing or swatting without really knowing it). For siblings of different abilities, I give the younger one a 1-5 second (you choose) head-start before the older one is able to “swat in” if the younger hasn’t yet swatted it. If the kids start swatting too hard, they know I’ll stop the game, so they usually cooperate after a gentle reminder! 🙂

    The other game I play with young children is a game my nieces & nephews told me their teacher uses. I have a Sunshine picture from the teachers’ store (probably Carson Delosa). I’ve mounted the bottom half on a yellow file-folder so it stands up, tent-style. I cut a slit for the mouth & after the kids name the note (or symbol, or stepping/skipping pattern, or rhythm value…) they “feed it to Mr. Sun”. I usually make crazy slurping noises & the kids giggle like crazy. I choose the cards I want to use for any particular lesson & put them inside the mouth of a whale puppet so the kids have to reach into the whale’s mouth to get it. More peals of laughter when I “snap” it shut on their hand. Sometimes if I’m looking at one child’s flashcard while another draws but I don’t snap, they’ll wait for me to do it! The whale puppet-thing came with a game that my kids had when they were young. We remember nothing about the game, except the little puppet thing!

  5. My kids also love the simple timing. I have a 2-minute sand timer from the dentist, and I keep track of a “record” for each kid — they have to say the note and play it. They take GREAT pride in “upping” their record or beating the student just above them. Our current 2-minute high: 88. Pretty great, considering that many of my cards involve ledger-line notes (I only add in the “harder” cards once kids have gone past 50).
    For siblings, I play the “steps” game. I have steps in my foyer, where I teach. Both siblings start at the top step, and I show a card. First to name the note moves down a step. First child to the bottom of the stairs wins. Fun!!!

  6. I do a “Mad Minute Note Challenge” from January til about April. The kids never know when it will happen, so the surprise of doing it is fun. They get to name 22 notes within 1 minute and for each one they get right, they get a small candy… like cinnamon hearts or skittles. For the littlest ones, I make sure my “deck” is stacked with the notes they know best first. Even if they only get 5 right, they are happy with their little treat. And they always work hard in between lessons so that they can earn more candy or better their score the next time. I do it every lesson for a while and then every other lesson… it only takes a couple of minutes.

    For more advanced students, they must find the right key on the piano. And if you make up other cards with terms or other musical things they must know, it works well too. 22 cards seems to be a good number to fit into a one minute time span.

  7. I use the note flashcards to not only teach the reading of notes but also for spelling. The students see how many words they can spell with the music notes. We also write stories using as many music notes as possible and sometimes even though the stories may be silly, they love doing this and again it helps them with spelling. I also use the music notes to do music math. This again helps them not only with the note values but they are learning math as well.

  8. My game is much like Elizabeth’s. Used in a group. One person is nominated Team Leader. This person has to use the cards to spell out words. The remaining pupils have to write down the letter names of the notes and the first one to hold up their paper and correctly call out the word is awarded a point. The first person to get 5 points is winner and gets to be Team Leader.

  9. In order to play these games, you need a set of cards in which the answers are not printed on the back. These can be tough to find and you may have to make your own, but the kids love playing the musical versions of their favorite card games, so it’s worth it.

    1. Go Fish. Sort your deck before playing so that you have 3 of each letter (3 C’s, 3 D’s, etc.) You can adapt for various levels by choosing to include or leave out ledger lines. Mix the cards and deal. Play like Go Fish. When it is your turn, you ask the other player(s) if they have any C’s, for instance, to match with the C’s in your hand. When you have 3 C’s, you lay them down in front of you as a match. For piano parties, you can create your deck so that there are 4 of each letter name so the deck is a little bit larger.

    2. Old Maid. Use the same deck as for Go Fish (3 of each letter name) but add in one card marked as the Old Maid. Play like Old Maid. On their turn, each player draws a card from another player, trying to make a match of 3 C’s, for instance. I like to play that the player left with the Old Maid at the end of the game has to use that to cancel out one of their matches, and then we count out who has the most matches left. That way, the emphasis is still on making matches of staff notes rather than simply on avoiding the Old Maid.

    3. Memory. For this game, you need a deck with 2 of each letter name. Shuffle the cards and place them face down in front of you. Play like memory. I like to have the students say the letter name of each card they flip over, even if it doesn’t make a match. That way, they are identifying more staff cards.

    4. Uno. You need a specialized deck for this game. The notes on the staff cards need to vary between whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, and eighth notes. You don’t necessarily have to have any repeating cards in this deck (not a certain number of each letter). Shuffle the deck and deal. Play like Uno, which certainly requires some explaining in this circumstance. In Uno, you have to play a card that matches the previous card in either color or number. In Staff Uno, you have to play a card that matches the previous card in either staff letter or type of note. So for instance, if the previous card played was a quarter note C, I could play a half note C, or a quarter note A because both of the match in at least one of the categories. Winner is the first one to play all his or her cards. This game is better for older students because it takes a little while to catch on.

    One last thought: these card games are best played with cards that are close to the size of standard playing cards. While larger flashcards are nice for teaching little eyes to read the notes, these games are more designed for students who are a little bit past that stage and are ready for practicing reading the notes. Plus it’s hard for students to hold cards that are much larger than standard playing cards in order to play these fun card games. Happy playing!

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