Games 5

“Nothing you can’t spell will ever work.” Will Rogers (1879 – 1935)

Spelling Games – where pupils:

  1. spell out in notes a word you have specified
  2. identify a word after you have played it in notes


  • to underline that the musical alphabet is the same as the everyday alphabet (indispensable to making sense of musical grammar – more of which another day)
  • to strengthen links to language
  • to improve (active) listening and aural memory

The spelling option sounds like a very complicated activity to mark, with several pupils simultaneously spelling out the same word with varying degrees of speed and accuracy. In reality, each word has its own tune and, through familiarity, is easy to spot.

The identifying game can be more difficult for pupils – as they are not in control of the tempo. The pupils need to know the starting note, as very few have perfect pitch (the ability to name a note without reference to a prior sound). Spotting additional details along the way can provide clues to the notes depending on context and category:

  • unconnected words e.g. bag, feed, cafe
  • words with a similar beginning – bad, bag
  • accumulative words – be, bee, beef, beefed
  • palindromes – Abba, dad, gag
  • words ending on the starting note – dead, defaced

Double letters offer the most obvious clue by causing repeated notes e.g. feed
Neighbouring notes (sounding like scales) also draw the pupils to neighbouring letters e.g.
(ascending) c ab, deaf, be ef, gab,
(descending) c aged, baggage, fed.

While these skills may not rival the Enigma Code breakers of Bletchley Park, the processing of sound and language can only be beneficial. – although the frequency of guesses like “zoo” and “Christmas” suggest that excitement and logic do not mix well.

Attached is a table (by no means exhaustive) of 71 words for this game.

Spelling Game Table