Learning to read music is hard work, but it can also be so much fun! Try these creative, hands-on games at home to spice up the way you practice note reading.
1. “I Spy” Notes & Symbols
“I spy with my little eye… a quarter note, a crescendo, a barline, the note B!”
This is such a fun way to explore musical notation and identify notes and symbols. Play with a magnifying glass to really feel like a musical detective! Little gems or stones are great to cover each thing that you find and also makes it easy to count and compare.
2. Note Match Game
You can find treble clef sticky-notes online, as well as regular colored post-it notes.
Draw 3 or 4 notes on each of the musical staff sticky-notes (keep it in the range of whatever your child is currently learning). Draw the matching letters on regular colored sticky-notes.
Mix them up and match the letters to the notes on the staff!
Play each one on your instrument as you go, and then put them all together to make a song at the end!
Don’t forget to switch roles too! Kids then draw the notes and make the cards for parents to match.
3. Melodic Contour Tracing
This is such a fun activity to do with pipe-cleaners, as they are easy to bend and turn, following the direction of the music. You can also use yarn, string, or ribbon.
Melodic tracing allows kids to visually see the range of the song and locate the highest and lowest notes. It also shows ascending and descending lines as well as the overall shape of the phrases.
You can either print out a musical staff and plot some notes on your own or just use any sheet music that you have. Keep it simple and use a song with not too many notes.
At the end, you have a really cool shape to compare with other songs!
4. Musical Alphabet Words
The musical alphabet only has 7 letters (ABCDEFG), but there are still over 30 words that you can make!
To play the game, you will need musical staff paper and a pencil.
One person thinks of a word and draws the notes to spell that word on the staff. The other person has to guess the word and play it!
It could be an easy 3-letter word like “egg” or a big 7-letter word like “cabbage”! How many words can you make with the musical alphabet?
5. Interval Game
An interval is the distance between two notes. For this game you will need:
-A blank staff
-Something to use for notes (pom-poms, pennies, gems, etc.)
-A coin to flip
Step 1: Place a starting note anywhere on the staff.
Step 2: Roll a dice to get your interval:
1= Repeated note or an octave
Step 3: Flip a coin
Step 4: Put that note on the staff.
Example: Started with a “G” on the staff. Rolled a “4” and flipped “heads”. That means you go up a 4th. New note is “C”.
Step 5: Continue playing until you have filled up the staff with notes. Play the song!
This game can be adapted for any level. Advanced players can add 7ths and major/minor intervals.