Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Keyboard Geography: Alphabet Pieces Games

Second year students are ready to create their ALPHABET PIECES and use them in fun games for learning the white keys.

CUT the rectangle of alphabet letters out of your yellow songbook.  YES, cut your book!  Trim a piece of adhesive-back foam (like this kind) to match the size of your letters.  (If you happen to be making a bunch of these, you can fit 3 rectangles on a 8"x12" foam sheet.)  Affix the letters to the foam. 

Need a replacement printout of the letters? Grab one HERE.

Next, cut the strip of Cs, trim them apart, and have your child place each of them on a C on the piano.  Repeat with D, and each letter, then brush them off and store them in a cute box or container on your piano.  

Now you're ready for some fun!  *If you decide to skip the foam, that's okay, too.  In that case, to prevent papers from falling between the keys, always brush them off toward you.*

At the beginning of each practice, play an alphabet games for 2 minutes to get warmed up.  Here are a few games to change it up each day of the week.

Alphabet Race:
Have your child take one alphabet piece from the box and quickly set it on the correct white key.  Continue until the box is empty!  Time yourself and see if you can beat yesterday's time.  For students who struggle, have the student look at the picture (key-group diagram) in the back of the Yellow Songbook and form his own visual conclusion.

Take a Second:
Have your child choose two alphabet pieces and place them on the keyboard.  Identify what interval they make, and play the interval.  If it's anything other than a 2nd, play again!  The game ends when you take a second to make a 2nd

Pretend each alphabet foam piece is a tiny frog.  Have your child choose an alphabet frog, then hop it across the keyboard helping froggie find all keys of that letter. These frogs don't croak- each time the "frog" lands on one of her special lily pads, sing the letter (on pitch!). 

Place one letter on the keyboard as a starter snake.  Each player takes turns drawing a letter and checking to see if they can add it to the head or the tail with baby steps to make the snake longer.  If not, start a new snake somewhere else on the keyboard.  Anytime someone makes a snake with 8 or more segments, they get to remove it from the keyboard and keep the points (1 per segment)! Play until the pieces run out.  It's pretty cool if you are able to join 2 snakes by drawing the missing link between them, and win a really long snake!  You might enjoy non-piano Hiss, too.

Go Fish:
Each player starts with 3 alphabet tiles hidden in his hand.  Try to make matches by asking the other player: "Do you have a.." then PLAY the note on the piano to make your request.  If you end up with an empty hand, draw 3 more tiles.  Keep playing until the tiles are all gone, and see who got more matches.

Silly Songs:
Have your child draw out 5-10 alphabet notes and line them up along the music stand.  With her right hand in C position, play each note with the finger touching that key.  If the note is a B, slide the thumb down to yellow position to reach it;  if the note is an A, slide the hand into blue position to reach it.  This might be a wacky song, or it might be something cool.  If you like the tune, play it again!

Super Skippers:
Your child draws out an alphabet letter and places it on the keyboard as a 'starter'.  Next, she chooses another piece and checks to see if it can make a skip up or a skip down from the starter.  If not, discard it and player 2 gets a turn to play (player 2 should start her skipping chain on a different octave from player 1).  Keep taking turns until someone makes a chain, by adding skips at the top or bottom, that is 7 letters long and wins!

Parking Lot Cars:
Draw a letter from the lot and park your car on the white key "parking space" that matches.  Works great with cars like these from the learning shop. Keep going until you run out of cars (or whatever counters you have).

Cowboys and Indians:

Start one tiny plastic character (ANY tiny plastic figures you have will do: Pokemon, animals, cowboys, princesses, etc.) at one end of the keyboard on a white key, and another at the other end.  Draw a tile out and move the low guy up to that key. Draw another tile and move the high guy down to that key.  Keep going until they meet (and battle, or shake hands, or whatever you pretend!)
Have a Game Idea?
We hope you use your ALPHABET PIECES every day and get great at identifying the white keys.  Do you have another game idea using alphabet pieces?  Send it to us and we'll share it with our blog readers!

- Gina Weibel, M.S.
Let's Play Music Teacher

*Thanks to Amy Brinton and Kendra Flake for additional game ideas.*


  1. These sound like so much fun!!! Can't wait to play!

  2. These sound like so much fun - can't wait to play!

  3. Gina - you are a music teacher superstar!! What awesome ideas!! Thanks for always sharing! : )
    Jodi B.

  4. Thanks to Kendra Flake for her input on game ideas!

  5. Another way to keep your letters from falling through the cracks is to glue them to the back of flattened clear marbles (you can get a bag for a buck at the dollar store). Then you can read the letter through the marble and they are little gems. I keep mine on a cup on the top of the piano.

    My son is going to be thrilled with the new games. Thanks

  6. I showed the parents this one: two players, each takes a colored marker and begins at the lowest end of the keyboard. First player draws a letter and moves marker to the next key with that letter. Next player does the same. It is a race to the top of the keyboard. OK to add rules such as if you land on the same key as the other player, he has to go back one octave.

  7. I cut these out of my child's songbook before knowing I should stick them to a foam page. Is there a way for me to print out a new page of letters so I can stick them to a foam page? Thank you.

    1. Just for YOU (and any other parents in the same boat) I'm gonna add the pdf here for you to print off another copy! I will link it up there in the blog post.