Games 2

“Its not the taking part, it’s the winning” (Just kidding)

Location Games (aka Note Quiz) – where notes are specified and pupils find them on the instrument.

Purpose – to encourage pupils to find notes with the minimum of delay; to raise awareness of relationships between notes; to reinforce basic music vocabulary in a practical setting.

This can be done either with flash cards or by naming the notes aloud. Given the combinations in the more complex versions of this game (see below), it seems far simpler to use the voice. Moreover this acts as a safeguard against a rather strange phenomenon. There are some pupils who are very good readers without being sure of the names of notes. Where this places them at a disadvantage is when they come across the realities of musical grammar. All subjects have their vocabulary and lack of familiarity with it puts pupils at a disadvantage when trying to communicate. This first struck me many years ago when an inherited senior pupil pointed to the page and the guitar saying, “is that that?”

In describing examples, I shall use bold print to give some idea of the emphasis in the questions.

Individual notes: (that’s just bold for outlay, I’m not shouting)

In all cases, the fingering must be the same as it would were the note encountered in a real piece. The point of the games is to strengthen ideas and not to dilute them. The simplest for of this quiz question is:

  • Play me an E

Then to keep pupils thinking and to consolidate the vocabulary of the instrument:

  • Using only the right hand, play me a G
  • Using both hands, play me an F
  • On a nylon/treble/upper string, play me a C
  • On a metal/bass/lower string, play me a B

To prevent pupils jumping the gun I always keep the name of the notes until the end of the description.

Consecutive notes:

This rarely goes beyond pairs or threes as, the winner would only be part of the way through the answer when others were joining in – causing the confusion we are hoping to avoid.

  • Play me a C then a D
  • Play me a C then a different D
  • Play the same D then a different C

And to consolidate vocabulary:

  • Play a F then an open E
  • The same F then a left hand E
  • Reverse the order of those two notes ( What?!)
  • Play a C then ascend/descend to a G
  • Reverse the last answer (You’ve taken that too far)

Paired notes:

In these examples, preparation time massively outweighs execution time. By watching the preparation here it’s easier to tell who is about to come up with the correct answer.

  • Play me a D with a B
  • Keep the D and pair it with a G
  • Keep the G and swap the D for a different D
  • Play two different Es together

And to consolidate vocabulary:

  • On two neighbouring strings, play me a C and E
  • Play this pair: the low note is an E and the high note is a C
  • This time: the lower note is a C and the upper note is an E
  • Play simultaneously an open A together with a left hand A

By that time everyone’s head in spinning and we’re ready for some tunes.