30 minutes can feel like a long time for students. Especially online students. About mid-lesson, I like to take a two to four-minute break and play a game. These games are great because you don’t need any additional materials. You can play them anytime! These games work well in person too.

I want these games to be fun and I also want them to build my student’s musicianship. Here are 12 games you can play instantly online without any special materials or downloads.

1 – Name that tune. Roll a die or choose a number (two through six) play the notes from a song or piece the student knows and see if he can guess the song. Take turns with your students guessing and playing.

2 – Major or minor. Play a passage in a major or minor key and see if your student can tell the difference.

3 – Chord qualities. Start with just major and minor chords and have your student identify the chord qualities. Take turns with your student and have her play the chords as well. Add new chord qualities as your student increases in proficiency.

4 – Stump the Professor. This is my favorite. Ask your student to choose any piece from her book and you will sight-read it. One tip is to anticipate that your students will usually ask for the most difficult-looking pieces. So if sight-reading isn’t your forte you might want to go over these ahead of time.

5 – Name the instrument. Pull up a YouTube video featuring an instrument other than the piano. Don’t show it to them and see if they can name the instrument and the instrument family by listening to it.

6 – What is the genre? Play a few bars of Blues, Jazz, Classical, Rock, Pop, etc. Your student gets to try and figure out what you are playing.

7 – Who is the composer? Play a snippet of a piece and see if your student can figure out who wrote it. A variation on this would be to name the period in musical history in which the place was written.

8 – Tell me the Time Signature. 4/4, 3/4, 2/4, 6/8? Play something and see if your student can figure it out.

9 – I am thinking of a composer. Give some a composer ex. “I am thinking of the composer who wrote a symphony while he was unable to ear or I am thinking of the composer who composed the “Rondo Alla Turka”

10 – I can play anything better than you. Can your student play a passage louder, softer, faster, or slower than you? Can they use more dynamic contrast? Can they make the staccatos shorter and the legato passages more smooth and connected?

11 – Play it Back – Play a series of notes, give your student the starting note, and see if she can play it back. Add more notes as you go along.

12 – Clap it back – Clap rhythms and have your students clap them back to you. Get more complex as you go.

All of these games build musicianship while giving both teacher and student a mid-lesson diversion. I use them as needed. Sometimes students are very focused and don’t need a break, but a lot of times I sense they are getting overwhelmed, tired, or bored. A game is just the thing to make the lesson more fun and productive. 

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