This Is Your Brain on Music… Party Time!

We did it!  Thanks to many long hours of work throughout the school year, my students musicianship binders have gone from being blank slates:

Brain on Music2


to well-checked, stickered and tallied records of all they’ve accomplished this year!

Crainium Party5


As a part our “This is Your Brain On Music” incentive program, students earned Cranium Coins for each of the musical goals and tasks they accomplished through the year, and added them to a tank in the studio.  Our goal was to reach a total of 1,000 coins.  It was fun to watch the tank fill up and count the coins each week!

Crainium Party4


The reward for completing our goal?  An ice cream and game night party at the end of the school!  (Well… actually 4 ice cream parties.  I have enough students that there was no way we’d all fit in my house or be able to eat and play games together at once!)

Crainium Party1

Since we worked together as a studio to fill up the coin tank, I thought it was fitting that we all celebrate together.  I’ve used a variety of rewards over the years (parties, trophies, medals, Easy Buttons, etc.) and ice cream and pizza parties seem to top the list as the kids’ favorites!  After all of the hard work that goes into a year of music lessons, what’s better than a night of fun and goofing off at the studio? 🙂   

After we finished our ice cream sundaes, the kids got to choose from a “menu” of games. Most of these are adaptable to a wide variety of levels, so they’re fun for studio parties, or group lessons that include a diverse group of kids.   Here’s what we played:

Name That Tune
This just might be the quintessential music party game! I pulled several easy-level favorites and pop books off my shelf and let kids take turns sightreading melodies while their peers raced to guess the names of the songs.  For a little extra fun, we used our set of Eggspert quiz buzzers to answer.

Hot Potato
I had included this game on the list because I thought it would appeal to my younger students.  I planned to use CD music as kids passed a ball around the circle, and tried not to be the one holding the “potato” when the music stopped.   As luck would have it, though, my older kids LOVED to take turns improvising or playing memorized pieces at the piano to provide the music after they had been eliminated from the circle.  I’m definitely going to remember this for next year’s performance classes (the stop-and-start nature of the game would be fantastic for practicing memorized pieces)!

Crainium Party3Musical Jenga
I have a set of Jenga blocks that we use during the year for an interval game, and my students sometimes ask to play “real” Jenga.   So, we did… but with a catch!  Before students could take their turn removing a block, they had to correctly answer a flashcard (I kept several different levels of flashcard decks handy so I had appropriate levels for each player).   


Grand Staff Twister
Twister is always a hit at group lessons, so it usually makes an appearance at the end of the year, too.  This year we played Grand Staff Twister at the party; other years we’ve used other variations on a traditional Twister game.  


This Is Your Brain on Music… Party Time! — 10 Comments

  1. Thanks for posting this great resource, Jen! I may combine this with my MTNA Music Achievement Award program next year. What program do I need to open the version that can be edited? Thanks! 🙂

  2. Hello Jen,
    May I ask you how many students you had over at each of the ice party? How many students is ideal for a group setting as such?

    • Hi Kathy,

      The most I had in a group was 10, and one group only ended up with 4 students. On average, I usually shoot for 5-8 kids in a group – that’s enough to make games fun, but few enough to easily fit in my space. I live on a cul-de-sac, so drop-off and pick-ups get to be an issue if I have too many kids signed up at once. Depending on your space, you might be able to fit a few more.

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  4. Hi, Jen! Thanks SO SO much for all the wonderful ideas and resources you make available for so many! I love the “This is your brain on music” idea and am considering using (a modified) version of it in my elementary music classroom. Just wondering what you used for the clear plastic bubble tank that holds the cranium coins. It looks perfect!

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