Game tutorials

On this page you’ll find tutorials for our printed games. Click on the game title to jump to it.

Rhythm Vocab

How to Play

There are many ways to use the Rhythm Vocab cards, here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Lay out a series of cards in a row and ask your student to clap, tap, say or play them on a rhythm instrument.
  • Hold up one card at a time for your student to clap and vocalise.
  • Create a pattern for clapping and turn over one card at a time until the student is clapping/vocalising the complete pattern from memory.
  • Play a pattern and ask your student to identify the matching card.
  • Use a random selection cards as a starting point for an improvisation or composition.

There are even more ideas for using Rhythm Vocab cards in my book, Rhythm in 5. Members can find that here and you can also purchase hardcopies here.

Learning Objectives

The main purpose of these cards is to gradually build up a rhythm vocabulary during the course of instrumental lessons, however they could also be used for many other activities.

They do not need to be used in order, and the complete set doesn’t have to be used together. Try introducing just a few of cards in each lesson, and gradually having the student memorise many patterns in this way.

Lions, Tigers and Bears

How to Play

Match (1 Player)

  • Lay out any one of the packs, face up on the floor.
  • Take any other pack and match one by one to the cards on the floor.
  • Optionally, continue to the third pack to create complete sets.

Memory (1 – 4 Players)

  • Lay out 2/3 packs face down in rows.
  • Take turns to turn over two cards to try to get a match.
  • If a player gets a match, they keep those cards.
  • Continue until all the cards are gone, the winner is the one with the most cards.

Snap (2 – 3 Players)

  • Start with one pack per player.
  • Each player turns over a card from their own pack simultaneously.
  • If two cards match, the first player to say “Snap!” and slap the cards, gets all the cards added to their pack.
  • If playing with three players any player can call “Snap!” on any two matching cards. They keep those two piles (not all the piles, just the ones that match).
  • The winner is the one who gains all the cards, or the most cards when time is up.

Crazy A’s (2 – 4 Players)

  • Shuffle together all three packs (or only two if desired).
  • If playing with 2 players, deal 7 cards each. If playing with 3/4 players, deal 5 cards each.
  • Place the remaining cards in the centre, face down. Turn over a single card.
  • The player to the left of the dealer starts by placing a matching card on top of the card that is face up. A matching card is either the same letter name (in any form).
  • If the player does not have a match, they should take a card from the pile, until they have a match.
  • ‘A’s are wild, an ‘A’ of any type, can be placed on any card. After an ‘A’ has been placed, the next player should still follow the previous card before the ‘A’ was played.
  • The winner is the first to get rid of all their cards.

Learning Objectives

Lions, Tigers & Bears reinforces the relationship between the piano keys, note names and the grand staff for beginning music students.

Nimble Neighbours

How to Play

  • Shuffle the cards and deal 7 to each player.
  • Turn over 2 cards from the remaining pile so they sit face up in between the players.
  • On “go!” both players try to get rid of their cards by placing them on top of an interval which is either 1 higher or 1 lower.
  • If at any point both players are stuck, 2 more cards can be drawn from the pile to start a fresh round.
  • The winner is the first to get rid of all their cards.

Learning Objectives

This fast-paced game is a great way to work on quickly identifying intervals of up to a 5th.


How to Play

  • Shuffle the cards and deal 5 to each player. Place the rest in pile in the centre.
  • Turn over the top card from the central pile to start the discard pile.
  • Players take turns to put down one of their cards on the discard pile.
  • They can put down a card if it is the same type as the face-up card, and must say the type. For example, say “half step” and place a B to B flat on top of an E to F.
  • If they do not have a card they can put down, they must draw another card from the central pile to add to their hand.
  • Special swiswap cards can be placed on top of any other card (and any other card can be placed on top of them).
    • Switch: Change the direction around the circle so that the previous player plays again. When playing with 2 players this can be used as another “swip” card.
    • Swirl: The next player (after the player who plays the card) gets up and turns around before sitting down again to play their turn. (This has no effect it’s just for fun!)
    • Swone: The player who puts down this card picks up a card from the central pile and gives it to another player of their choice.
    • Swip: Skip over the next player in the circle. For 2 players this means that the player who puts it down plays another card.
    • Swepeat: The player who puts this down plays again.
    • Swap: The player who puts this down then gives a card to another player and takes one from their hand.
  • The winner is the first to get rid of their cards or the one with the fewest cards when the time is up.

Note: For students who are new to whole/half steps it is useful to have a keyboard diagram on display.

Learning Objectives

Swiswap! provides lots of practice for figuring out whole steps/half steps/enharmonics from staff notation.

Lock & Key

How to Play

  • Shuffle the deck and deal 7 cards to each player.
  • Place the remaining cards in the centre and turn over the top card to start the discard pile.
  • Players take turns, starting with the player to the left of the dealer.
  • On their turn, players may either draw a card from the discard pile or the top card from the deck.
  • If the player has a set (a pair, set of three, four, etc.) they may place it face up in front of them during their turn.
  • If a player can add to another player’s set by adding a matching card, they may also do this on their turn. (For example a player could place down a set of three: F Major, D minor, and the matching key signature. Another player could then add another F Major to this set on their turn.)
  • If a player places down a set which does not match correctly, they are “locked out” and cannot take their next turn.
  • When a player is finished their turn, they should place a card in the discard pile.
  • The magic key cards are wild and can take the place of any card.
  • The winner is the first player to get rid of all their cards.

Learning Objectives

Lock & Key is a great way to practise the relationship between Major and minor keys. There is also a more challenging version of this game using chords on the staff: Keyed UP.