Listening Card Race

Ah… summertime!  As I write this, I’m sitting on my back deck with my laptop, enjoying a little sunshine and fresh air, and a couple of weeks off of teaching before summer lessons start.   It’s nice to have a little bit of downtime to get back to some creative projects for the studio… and also have a chance to share a few of the new fun things we’ve done in lessons over the last couple of months!

Here’s a fun little race game we played at group lessons last month that turned listening practice into a competitive sport:

To play, students divided into two teams, and moved to opposite sides of the room.    We set up a bell on a stool in the middle of the room, and taped off starting lines on the floor that each team had to stay behind.

Each team was given a set of listening race cards, that included the following categories and terms:

Piano, Mezzo Piano, Mezzo Forte, Forte

Staccato, Legato, Accented

Andante, Moderato, Allegro

Happy, Sad, Angry, Scary

Major, Minor

3/4, 4/4

The melody is in the…
Bass Clef, Treble Clef 

Students laid their cards out on the floor, arranged by category.   Each team chose a player to start.  

I called out a category (i.e. touch, dynamic, tonality, etc.), then played a short excerpt at the piano.  As soon as the music stopped, students raced to pick up the card from that category that best fit what they heard, then race to ring the bell with the card in hand.   After each play, we noted points, then moved on to the next players.  

First player to ring bell, has correct card in hand = 2 points (per card)
If first player to ring bell has an incorrect card, and other player has correct card, the player with the correct card receives 1 point (per card)
False start (step across line before music has stopped) = -1 point

Once students were comfortable identifying one musical category, we moved on to identifying 2 categories at a time (i.e. tonality and tempo), then 3 categories and so on.   The first team to reach 20 points won the game.

In a couple of groups, I let students take turns playing excerpts from their own repertoire pieces at the piano.   They quickly discovered how much they had to exaggerate characteristics at the piano in order to have their peers hear what they wanted them to! 

The cards are available for download on the Group Activities page.    I’d suggest printing these on heavy cardstock and laminating them – they take a bit of a beating when the kids get competitive! 

Listening Race Cards
Listening Race Cards
Listening Race Cards.pdf
710.0 KiB


Listening Card Race — 7 Comments

  1. Pingback: March 2013 Piano Party

  2. I am going to use this game this Saturday at our Piano Party. The kids will love it! Thank you for creating and sharing it.

  3. I LOVE these cards. They work great even for active listening during performances. I would love to see a few additions. Would you consider adding Non-Legato, Triple Meter and Duple Meter (this is meter talk for teaching rhythm via Music Learning Theory), and a couple more emotions? I would make some myself but I can’t figure out the font you’ve used to make them look uniform.

  4. I will soon start teaching what music symbols are and what they stand for. These cards make understanding much easier and more memorable. I am teaching the piano to my grandson and looking for some fun resources for him. I am so glad to come across your site as I love your work I am also following you on Facebook. Thanks for sharing your resources with us. I am a former music school teacher so I know how much work resources entail. I do not know if you can help me. I am trying to find a not so difficult music notation app download for making my own worksheets more fun for my grandchild. Can you suggest one that will help me out

    • Hi Doris,

      I’ve always used Finale for notation. They have “light” version of their software called Finale Notepad that’s available as a free download.

      Another good free option is Musescore (although I find it to be a little less intuitive than Finale).


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