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Saturday, September 19, 2015


Each Friday, I have been playing a sort of review game with my beginners as a way for me to keep class fun and to assess student progress.  I thought I would post a couple of the games I have done so far.  These games are super simple and I don't use the entire class period for a game.  Students really look forward to Friday Fun Day and I feel it helps students focus on the skills I am teaching during the week.

A week ago, my game was a simple balloon toss.  As students entered my classroom, they were instructed to pick up a balloon, blow it up, and place it under their chairs.  They were told that their balloon would be taken away if it was being mis-used.  For bow games, every student tried to keep their balloon in the air and they LOVED it.  I should have taken a classroom was full of color and students were engaged and determined to keep their balloons up.  By the way - I didn't let them have their instruments out during this activity.  I recommend that instruments are kept in cases, just to be safe.  Students could only play the game if their bow hold was perfect.  If I caught them with a bad bow hold, they had to sit down while I helped and corrected.

After this activity, I divided the class into 2 halfs (violins against viola/cello/bass).  They had to stay in their seats and try to keep as many of the balloons in the air as possible using their bows with perfect bow holds.  The team who whose balloons all dropped first was the loser.  This happened pretty quickly because students could not get out of their seats to reach balloons.  If I caught a student with a bad bow hold, they had to put their bow down and could not help their team.

This one is kindof hard to explain, but I'll try...
Throughout the week, I had been talking to my students about gaining ninja reflexes with note-reading and finding notes on their instruments quickly with perfect accuracy.  To play the game, I divided the class into 2 teams (violins against viola/cello/bass).  One team received a dry erase packet with a staff (one per student) so they could write note names ninja-fast - you could call this game NINJA NOTES.   I printed cards with note names in various combinations   This week, we were drilling and learning the notes on the D string, so my note combinations were:  D  F#  G   E, or G  E  F#  D, etc.  When I held up the card, students on the team had to draw the notes on the staff in the correct order and show me by holding up their packet.  As soon as EVERY member of the team was holding up their packet with the correct notes, the team had to pluck the notes in tune with best position.  The team had to try to finish drawing and plucking the notes before the other team finished their challenge.

Team 2 had to complete a ninja-reflex challenge as quickly as possible.  The challenges I did for the Ninja-Reflexes were 1. Pass a cup from bow to bow using the tip to each person on the team.  They had to try to get the cup to every member of the team before the other team finished the Ninja Notes.  2.  One member of the team had to throw a ball to every member of their team - back and forth - without dropping it.  (You need good reflexes to pay attention and catch a ball.)  3.  Students had to build a Jenga tower on a music stand.

After we did the 3rd variation, we switched so that the opposite team did the Ninja Notes while the other team did the Ninja Reflexes challenge.  Whichever team finished first on each NINJA NOTE/NINJA REFLEX challenge got a point.

This game really helped me to identify which students are going to need more help with reading notes.  I hope it also helped some students realize that they need to practice reading notes to gain speed.


  1. This sounds fun! What did you use for the students to draw the notes on? Mini white boards or chalk boards?