Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Ear Training Group Lesson Piano Games

Do you include ear training exercises in every lesson?  This definitely wasn't a huge part of the traditional lessons I had as a child.  Fortunately ear training has evolved quite a bit from the "Now Hear This" cassette tapes and workbook that my teacher sent me home with years ago. Group lessons are the kick-off event for my monthly themes in our studio, and we kicked off November with some Ear Training Games. There is definitely a lot more excitement and motivation that comes with ear training in a group setting!

Speedy Scale Stops 
I find that sometimes as experienced musicians we assume students already possess some building block skills like audiation that we take for granted as seasoned musicians.  Tim Topham's blog has several great step by step ideas for practicing ear training in private lessons.  I tweaked the Scale Stops game from his blog to create a group lesson version.  This game gives students the initial foundation necessary for interval identification by ear.

Concept: Hearing Scale Degrees (Prep for identifying ascending intervals).
Preparation: Give each student 8 cups
How to Play: Teacher starts on the tonic note and plays up the major scale stopping on a certain degree (note) as students internally count or sing to determine what note they stopped on.  Students race simultaneously to stack their cups one at a time up to the scale degree number and throw their hands in the air when they think they have the correct answer.
Toss Variation: Partners stand across from each other with a bucket of bean bags at their feet and alternate rounds tossing the correct number of bags equaling the scale degree stopped on.
Boost the Learning :  Instead of the teacher playing samples, students take turns drawing a flashcard note within the Middle C Scale and then play the C scale stopping on that note.

Intervals in Motion
Concept: Identify intervals by ear
Preparation: Create interval posters with familiar songs that match each interval
How to Play: Teacher plays an interval on the piano, students make motions that match the associated interval song. See more details on this post.

Candy Listening Bingo
Concept: Interval Ear Training
Students won't complain about being drilled on intervals with this fun game available at  To boost the learning I have the students take turns playing interval cards for the others to identify. These are available free from this Over the Edge game and I just pull out the ascending Major/perfect intervals neede for this game.

Directional Bingo 
Concept: Melodic Direction ear training with steps skips and repeats
Visit 4dPiano Teaching to get the free download of this beginner bingo style game.

Pianimation Listening Bingo - Opposites
Concept: Pitch/Dynamics/Articulation
Visit for a free download of this bingo style game that addresses several ear training concepts.

Technique Pattern Bingo HPN
Concept: Identifying common music patterns like chords, scales and arpeggios by ear.
See this post for details.

Major Minor Dash
Concept: Identifying chords by ear as Major or minor
Students can get a lot of energy out in this game as they run to the poster that matches the quality of the chord played.
see details at

Major Minor Line Up
Concept: Identify a sequence of chords by ear as Major or minor
Prepare cards with a happy face (Major) on one side and sad face (minor) on the other or buy some m&ms.
How to Play:   Play a sequence of 3 or 4 Major and minor chords.  Students flip their cards to match the pattern that you played (M,m,m,M or m,m,m,M, etc.). With m&ms the printed side of the candy represents minor and the blank side Major.  If they get the pattern correct they can eat an m&m (or add it to their cup if you are tallying points).

Rhythm Bug Games
"What's Missing?" and "Rhythm Tag" "Rhythm Telephone Race".
Concept: Rhythmic Dictation
See this post for details on these fun rhythm games that use Let's Play Music Rhythm Bugs.

Related Group Lesson Posts:
Music Theory Carnival Games
Musical Minute to Win It Games
Music Mash-up
Summer Piano Synergy
Halloween Group Activities
Piano Technique Group Lesson
Valentine's/Composing Group Lesson
Practice Themed Group Lesson

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