Useful Websites

The Practice Shoppe  This site contains numerous free downloads.  There are games, song specific charts and repetition sheets galore.

eMusic Theory  A site with “free music theory drills.”  There are matching games for strings finger position/pitch name; naming notes on a staff, or grand staff; rhythm performance and more.

Blank Sheet Music   Here one can design and print your own staff paper.  Change the number and kind of staves on the page, the clef, key and time signature before printing. Free

MES English  A fantastic collection of free game boards with and without printable cards.  These can be readapted for music lessons.  Free

Classics for Kids  Interactive games for pitch ID on the staff, rhythm recognition, composers, and the ability to compose and hear one's own music in a appealing presentation. Free

General Games

Using these codes you can quickly scan through the games to find something suggested for your particular need.

= general games

= listening games

T = especially for Pre-Twinks and Twinklers  

= review games

X = repetition games

T  Cupcake:  Light a candle on a cupcake.  Practice until the candle burns down.  Eat cake. 

T    Extreme makeover:  Do Something very different today.  A new location, new order, new game, new practice buddy, new snack, use your imagination.

T  Go on Tour: Practice each item in a different room of the house.  Who is in that room who can listen?  The cat?  A mouse?  A gnat?  The house plant?

T  Garden Tour:  Practice something in each garden area.  Choose a dry day.

T    Survival practice:  Done in exotic locations, the beach, campsite, a park bench with a picnic, under a LARGE umbrella in the rain.

T   Be Silly:  Place items on your head for each task completed.  Hats?  Folders?  Or on their head.

T   Old fashioned soiree:  poetry and musical entertainment for family/friends.  Dress up clothes.

T    What are friends for?  Obtain a practice buddy (see your teacher for suggestions of the perfect buddy.)  Or listen together.  Talk about what you heard.  Use Suzuki recordings or any good music.  Or listen to each other.

It's Alive:  go to live concerts in the parks.

T   Role reversal:  Adult uses instrument, student uses to-do list.  Pupil is still thinking about practice.

  Story time:  Read a story.  Stop at spots for appropriate music from repertoire.  Child selects.

Write a story: Use repertoire as background for story.  It doesn't need to win a Newberry Medal to please and be useful.

  Use a story from the Stories category under the Inspiration tab.

T   On a new stage:  Practice with other musical friend on park equipment.

T Use a simple Jigsaw Puzzle:  Label each piece with a number or symbol that corresponds to an assigned task.  Either draw the pieces from a hat, or lay them in a path on the floor.  When the child comes to the end of the pieces, put the puzzle together.

TX   Raisins/marshmallows and toothpicks:  For each task/repetition completed, the child is given a toothpick or raisin, or marshmallow.  When practice is over, make animals.

TX    Legos®, blocks: for each task/repetition completed, the child is given a Lego® or block.  When practice is over, start building.

X   Socks:  Label socks with tasks or count them for repetitions.  Earn the pairs as the task is accomplished.  Then kick the each pair of socks towards a goal (as simple as under a table).  This is good for active or frustrated children.

T   A rock:  This rock is stuck inside by the music stand.  Rocks don’t live inside houses, so this is not a happy rock.  It wants to escape back to the outside.  Your child can help the rock by each correct repetition of a practice chunk, which allows the rock to move one hand width towards the door and freedom. (Thanks to Philip Johnson)

X    Timers: How long does it take to play XX correctly 3 times?  Or conversely, how many times can XX be played in 30 seconds, or one minute.  The first day it may be very few times.  Each day it is likely that more and more can be done in the specified time.  Keep a record.

T   Hire a puppet to be the expert teacher.  Honestly, children will tolerate suggestions from a puppet when they won’t from you, especially if you use a funny voice.  I have one student (a 9 year old boy at that!) who so loved the puppet that he wanted it to go to the fancy din

T  Hire a puppet to be emotional. 
The puppet gets something in his eye which can only be removed if he (she) cries.  The child must play as sadly as they can.  Soon, if the child plays well, the puppet will be sobbing, so the child must play something very happily.  One could play angry and need a laugh.  Play faster and livelier if the puppet is sleepy, or calmly and lovingly if the puppet is over wound.

T X  Token Game - use any kind of small item. Start with a goal - for example, keeping a certain finger in position, or playing a particular note correctly. Give child and parent 5 tokens each. If child meets goal, he gets a chip from the parent’s pile. If the goal is missed the parent gets a token.  It is best if the child has the first word.  They tend to be very hard on themselves anyway. Keep playing until someone has all of the chips.

T    Fishing game:  Using some string, a stick, magnet and paper clips, on can make a fishing game.  The fish cut outs are found in the downloads section.  Label the fish with pieces.  Go fishing and play the song that is hooked.

T  Bow Fishing:   Like the above game, but with the fishing pole being a bow.  Tie the string to the bow.  One must fish holding the bow with a good bow hold.

T X    Bead Game:  Moving beads on a stick or use an abacus.  For each repetition, a bead is moved.  Or beads can be collected for each repetition and a bracelet/necklace made at the end of practice.   

T X   Make a Bead Stick for the music stand:  Place beads on the skewer.  (I had to sand my skewer to make it thin enough for the beads to glide easily.)  Poke both ends of the beaded skewer into the sides of a wine cork.   The cork can be notched with a sharp knife on the backside, so that it will slip onto a music stand’s ledge.

T X   Cups:  Turn small cups upside-down and in one of them, hide a candy or critter. For each successful repetition, the student can lift one of the cups.

T X   Use two cups and a certain number of markers…marbles, raisins, little men, etc.  Place all of the markers in one cup.  For each accurate repetition, move one marker to the other cup.  Child must make the assessment.

T X    Number game:  Student picks a number between 2 - 9, which is the number of times they believe they can play a passage correctly. Then they attempt to meet their own goal. Was the prediction correct?

X   Stairways:   Similar to above, but climbing up a staircase.

  Scales and stairs:   Ascending and descending the stairs as a child plays a scale helps them to coordinate what they hear with the physical movement of up and down.

X   Take a Step:  Play a passage or review song well and take a step forward. Play it poorly and don't move, try again. Try to make it to the other side of the room!

X   The Weapons of Death for Minisule and Monstrous Monsters:   
Use this game board to remove the monsters (inaccurate spots) from pieces.  There are cut-out figures to use.

 Seven Stages of Misery:  Using this game board, place a token on the first space.  Don’t move unless the repetition is perfect.  Play until HOME is reached. (Thanks to Philip Johnson.)

X  Seven Steps of Difficulty:  Have the student back up seven steps, this is location 0.  For each successful repetition, the student moves forward one step.  For each unsuccessful repetition, the student moves backwards one step.  The goal of course is to get to the magic number of 7.  I have had students at –17 and crammed against the back wall of my studio!  But they made it finally to +7.  This game is great for forcing the brain to focus on the task at hand.

TX  Dominoes: For each task completed, the student places a domino in a line. When all tasks are finished, the student can start the chain reaction!

T X    Parade:  After each repetition, add a stuffed animal to the parade.

T   The Perfect Practice Club  choose a number of days/weeks of perfect practicing.  Allow for no opps days unless the period of time is over two weeks.  After all there are some days people don’t eat!  (Dr. Suzuki said to practice only on the days you eat.) This will be as much as a challenge, if not more, for the parent.  It is the parent’s responsibility to initiate practice and make it fun.

T   Baby doll instrument:  Treat the instrument as a baby. Hold it gently, name it, change the imaginary diapers. For string instruments, the bow could be the milk bottle, which then feeds the violin.  After a certain amount of practice, change the diapers.

Distraction:  See how well they know their pieces! Have a family member (younger siblings work GREAT!) try to distract the violinist without touching them.  The player should not play a wrong note or giggle while playing, but stay focused on the song.

  Questions: ask the child questions that he/she has to answer WHILE playing. Start easy with yes/no questions, then move up to colors, simple math problems, etc.  If the muscles have really learned the song, they can continue to play while the mind attends to the questions.  This doesn’t produce musical playing, but is a useful game for discovering how well the body knows a piece.

  No Talking:  Set a timer for 5-10 minutes. Neither child nor parent can say a word the entire time. What can be the penalty for talking?  Be creative.