Games for Aural, Rhythm and Reading – Samantha Coates

Posted by on July 23, 2010

Samantha bravely gave us a second presentation on ‘Games for Aural, Rhythm and Reading’.  You may be familiar with Samantha’s books “How to Blitz…”  She has books for theory, musicianship, sight reading, general knowledge as well as musicianship and theory games books.

Samantha took us through some Intervals Songs we had in our handout, which also included ‘Tips for Teaching Aural’.  She also went through a ‘clapping’ rhythm game, and the student was informed they couldn’t not clap back the rhythm “Don’t clap it back”. or “Don’t clap that one back”.  I will try and put up some rhythms for that game in another post when I have some time.  It is a great game, as students need to be able to clap back rhythms played on the piano for their Aural Tests (in AMEB examinations at least).

We played a game of Beat Bingo (available either in the ‘How to Blitz Theory Books’ or as a free download on Samantha’s Website).  Samantha enlisted the help of her daughter, and they threw a giant die around on the stage.  Each teacher had a game board, and we had to cross off the number of beats (ie a crotchet was worth one beat, so if a 3 was rolled, we had to cross off a total of 3 beats – a minim rest and a crotchet, or a minim and two quavers) plus cross off a ‘game number’ over to the left hand side of the game board.  I have played this particular game with my theory students and they have really enjoyed playing it.

Samantha also demonstrated how frustrating it can be for our students if we throw a whole heap of rhymes at them (for the treble and bass clef lines and spaces), and expect them to memorise them.  She used C being ‘L’, D being ‘M’ and so on.  We had to firstly use a rhyme she had made up to try and figure out where the new notes were.  Of course we couldn’t remember the rhymes.  Then Samantha pointed out that if we simply used the notes in order, it was much easier to figure out what they were.

Another game was demonstrated, but Samantha describes it in her blog much better than I could as follows:-

I dreamt up a game the other night called ‘Uh-Oh’. When I say I dreamt it up, I mean that quite literally… I woke up from a vivid dream in which I had played this game with one of my students. It seemed great fun in the dream so I immediately tried it out with my 10-year old daughter, mostly so that I wouldn’t forget it but also to see if she thought it was any fun at all.

To my surprise, she thought it was hilarious. And the reason I’m surprised is because it is just soooooo ridiculously simple. I have since tried this game with all my AMS students and it has fast become their favourite!

All that happens is this: you (the teacher) play an interval on the piano. The student attempts to sing it back and name the interval (a la AMEB practical exam test). If it is correct, do another one. If it is incorrect (which, sadly, it so often is)… say ‘Uh-Oh’ very loudly with the following sound effect: the “Uh” goes with any two white notes played on the piano and the “Oh” goes with elbows crashing down on many black notes at once!

As soon as my daughter got her interval wrong, and I responded with this ‘Uh-Oh’ sound effect, she giggled. But here’s the thing that’s so good about it, and I can’t believe this came to me in a dream: the ‘Uh-Oh’ actually rids the ear of the interval she just tried. I could test her on the same interval again and it’s like a new listening experience. This really helps to drill getting something right the first time.

Then of course she wanted to be the one doing the ‘Uh-Oh’ elbow crashing, and was having great fun. This meant she was very excited to get her intervals wrong, but of course also very chuffed to get them right. A win-win situation. Yay, go my sub-conscious state!

We also had a quick flick through the free book we had received ‘How to Blitz Sight Reading’ book 1.  I have tried this book with some of my students, and they have absolutely LOVED it.  Shame there isn’t one for violinists (yet)!

Comments are closed.