Monday, September 8, 2014

A new Twist on a Classic Game: Memory Sounds

I was recently on a 5-hour flight with my four-year-old, and we stayed busy the entire time.  I had packed her Memory game and her Let's Play Music tone bells amid other toys and books.  Together we invented "Memory Sounds," a way to play the Memory game using tone bells to strengthen both ear-training and memory.  If you have a new set of tone bells and are looking for another fun way to put them to use, read on!

Sound Memory
What you will need: A Memory game (check your local thrift shop- I got mine for $2), a set of Let's Play Music tone bells, and a curtain or binder or wall to hide the bells from the players/ listeners.

Set Up
You won't need all of the matching pairs from your Memory game.  At most you will need 8 pairs.  Set up a divider so your child can't see the bells.  Lay your bells from left to right, high to low: this seems backwards to YOU, but your child facing you will hear low sounds on HER LEFT and high sounds on HER RIGHT.  Next to each bell, choose two different pictures to represent that sound.  Finally, put the matches from all of those pictures into a "draw box".

The first time we played this game, we were in tight quarters on a plane (photos below).  I used a blanket draped between our seats as a barrier, and had the bells on my tray.  Since it was our first time and I wanted her to get confident with the game, I only used three pairs.  If your child struggles with hearing and matching sounds, just use a few pairs, and use tones that are NOT adjacent (not an interval of a second).  I used Do, Mi and Sol.

One-Player Game
The listener chooses two cards and holds them up so the musician can see them.  The musician states the picture and then plays the corresponding bell.  "Train...ding!  Banana...ding!"  If the two sounds match, the player makes a pair.  If they don't match, she tries a different combination of pictures.  Even when she hasn't made a match, she's practiced identifying if the sounds match! A valuable skill!

This game is fun and challenging for ANY family member, even recent Let's Play Music graduates.  I was impressed how quickly my 8-year-old LPM-grad made matches. (In the video below, we hadn't yet realized it's best to have the bells laid out high-left to low-right for the musician.)

Multi-Player Game
Each player takes a turn picking two pictures and listening to the sounds, hoping for a match.  Just like in regular Memory, players can gain advantage by paying attention to the combinations chosen by others.

Major Scale Strategy
It didn't take my kids long to come up with a helpful strategy!  Each time you guess two cards and hear the tones, set the cards on the floor in a line, placing the cards approximately as far apart as the tones sounded, with the higher sound to the right.  You'll visually be lining up the tones and helping them find mates.  At the end of the game, all of your pairs will be arranged in a Major Scale!  Remove the screen/ divider, and you'll be able to check that all of the matches were correct AND they are all in the correct order to make a major scale.

I hope you'll have some family fun game time playing this game as the musician or the listener.  Just for the record, the white noise on the airplane was so loud that the tinkle of our tone bells could hardly travel more than a few feet: no patrons were harassed in the making of this blog post.

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


  1. Great game idea - thanks, Gina! Classic example of how we learn through PLAY!

  2. Looks like it would be easy to print your own memory cards, if you did not have a game.

  3. That is so much fun and developing those ears to hear matching pitches and remember the differences in varieties! Awesome!

  4. We have the memory game "I Never Forget a Face" with faces from children around the world. I think my daughter would enjoy this Memory Sounds game since she loves the faces on our memory cards and her brand new bells, and this would be a fun way to combine the two things.
    - Jenny B