Games 3

“There is creative reading as well as creative writing.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 82)

“I was reading the dictionary. I thought it was a poem about everything.” Steven Wright (b 1955)

Visual Games – where pupils deal with reading music in unorthodox ways

Purpose – to enable pupils to drop in and out of a performance (but especially in).

The benefit of this may not be immediately clear to non-musicians. If you lose your place in a group performance, the remedy is to find your place (while not playing) and rejoin. Like everything else, this requires practice.

There are many versions of this kind of activity. The choice of which one depends on the nature of the tune. During all of the following examples, I keep playing so that the performance is not brought to a halt by hesitation. This is what would happen in a group performance.

  • Playing only the first note of each bar – this encourages pupils to look ahead and prepare the hands.
  • Playing one bar each – encourages pupils to look further ahead, merge with the beat and rejoin. The bigger the group, the more they have to stay their hand.
  • Allocate a note per pupil to be played whenever it comes – this requires pupils to scan every bar in case their note is featured.
  • Allocate the notes of one string to be played whenever they come (an occasionally messy variation of the above).
  • White/black notes only – depending on the kind of tune, this could remove the luxury of getting into the groove and switching off for so many beats.
  • Tune/bass notes only – this thins out the demands on each pupil, enabling a speedy pace – encouraging the eyes to move forward and, more especially, onto the next line in good time.
  • Find the place and join in – in this case, I start at an unspecified point and pupils catch on as soon as they can.
  • Play the tune backwards (on purpose, this time). The main purpose of this game is to bring the session to a close in a spirit of unsurprising chaos.