How to Teach Music Theory With Games

This article hopes to share a few ideas on teaching music theory in a non-traditional way, through the use of board games and computer music games. These ideas will be most suited to private studio music teachers, such as teachers of piano or violin. The games mentioned are most suited to younger aged children.


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    Allot five minutes at the end of the lesson as "game time". The student will start to really look forward to this part of the lesson, and it can really motivate them to excellence.
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    Choose a very simple game first, that only teaches one concept at a time. You don't have to teach all aspects of music theory at once! It is better to help them learn and remember one concept, than trying to teach them lots which will just get forgotten. Even if they already know the knowledge the game will still concrete it in their minds.
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    Try to pick a game that matches a concept that the student needs to work on from their practical work. It will really help them if for example they are working on a minor key piece and you do a game where they have to make up a minor scale.
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    Make it short and sweet - a good game is a short game! Particularly with young children if you can get them going and get the game done in a few minutes it will work out much better. Don't try to achieve too much, just a quick activity to help them to remember one theory concept is all that is needed.
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    Another idea is to have a "game of the week" that is in your studio for the whole week, and you can play it with students who need it. You can adapt the level to suit the abilities of the individual students.
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    Load up some music theory games. If you have a computer available in your waiting area, you can load up some music theory games and have them play while they wait for your lessons. This can save time in your lessons, but make sure they are supervised when they are starting this activity!


  • Don't let the game take more than its allotted time. Students will spend most of the lesson playing games if you let them!
  • Make time for the game if the student deserves it. It can be a great motivator for regular practice!
  • Choose easier than you'll think! If you go for harder games you'll find yourself explaining them over and over. Go for something that can be explained with very few words!

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Categories: Teacher Resources