Category Archives: Theory

Prickly Intervals – a New Worksheet

Identify Music Intervals

Prickly Intervals

A few months ago when we were studying for the theory test, I went looking for some interval worksheets on my site, and I couldn’t find very many that didn’t have a holiday theme. I have no clue what happened to all the ones I thought I had posted, so I’m going to make a few and add them to my site.

The new one I’m posting today is called Prickly Intervals. I was inspired by all the blooming cacti I recently saw in a friend’s house, and decided it would be fun to make a worksheet with some flowering cacti as a theme. I’ve always thought they are amazing plants. For one thing, according to an online dictionary, there are three acceptable plurals for the word cactus: cacti, cactuses, and cactus. Is English a great language or what? (Answer: Yes, if you’re a native speaker!) When you come to my website, you are going to get bits of trivia whether you want it or not!

The Prickly Intervals worksheet is a little more difficult than Interval Stars below, which I  posted a few years ago for beginners. Feel free to use this one for your first interval worksheet. Interval Stars explains how to count intervals in a very easy way.

This is a worksheet for beginning intervals.

Interval Stars

Today’s worksheet, Prickly Intervals, will be easier if they can do Interval Stars. Not only does it include octaves, but it has unisons. A few years ago, for the first time I can remember, unisons were included on the theory test my students take. It’s in the syllabus, so it was fair game to be included on the test, and there it was, in black and white: UNISON. I’ve always mentioned it, saying something like, “Don’t forget, if the interval is the same note, we call it unison, not a first!” But of course you can’t just mention things to students and assume they are going to remember. It just whooshes right over their heads. So I decided to include it on my worksheet, to give them some practice for when the prickly unison word is on the test again!


Filed under Note Identification, Theory, Worksheets

Music Is Fun – The Easiest Music Bingo Game

A Music Bingo Game for Begnners

Music Is Fun Bingo Game

Music Is Fun Direction Cards

Today’s Throwback Thursday is an easy music bingo game for beginners called Music Is Fun. The art is new, but the music symbols have not changed. There are 10 bingo boards and teacher direction (calling) cards included in this game. The boards are different colors and numbered to make it easier if students trade cards when they play again. If you have a large group or a summer camp, you will appreciate that!

I originally made this bingo game because I needed a very easy game for a group lesson with my beginning students. Most of the symbols in this game are terms students learn in the first pages of their lesson book. The piano keys are included in black key groups of two and three to help students understand that concept. Other terms are measure, bar line, treble clef, bass clef, beginning rhythm notes, notes in a line and space, tie, and a few more symbols.

If you are new to teaching, here are some hints when you play this game.

Don’t worry if your beginners don’t know all of the symbols. Help them out while they play and they will learn them. It’s perfectly OK to tell them the answer. Think of it as a guided learning activity. This isn’t  family game night; you’re trying to teach music concepts. Children learn faster in an activity than a page in a book.

I try to make sure they win as much as possible. Young children, because of their development stage, will not want to play if they don’t win often. Older students take winning and losing more in stride.

If I have a child in a group who really seems lost, I partner them with another helpful child and that really makes them feel a lot better. No child want to be the only one in the group who doesn’t get it.

Also, young children might not know what bingo is, so be prepared to show them how to play!


  • The bingo game board and direction cards.
  • Bingo tokens, enough for all the students to cover their game board
  • A bowl or other container for the calling cards


  • Print and cut out the bingo boards and the teacher direction cards.
  • Pass out bingo chips to each student. They can put one on the “Free” square before the game starts.
  • Place all the direction cards in a bowl. The teacher draws a card and calls out the letter on the card and the symbol.
  • If  students have that symbol under the correct letter, F, U, or N, they cover the square with a bingo token.
  • The first player to cover 3 in a row is the winner.
  • Students also like to play “black out,” where the first student to cover every square on their board is the winner.


  • To introduce new musical symbols and terms.
  • To reinforce musical symbols.


  • Students love Bingo.
  • With only 9 squares, this is a very fast bingo game.
  • Beginning students can play.


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Filed under Games, Group lesson ideas, Music Vocabulary, Theory

Throwback Thursday Rhythm Pizza

Rhythm Pizza

When I first posted Rhythm Pizza it was one of my most popular printables. Teachers from all around the world wrote to me about how using this hands-on approach helped teach rhythm values.  Over the years it seems to be forgotten, buried in long ago posts. You can find the original post here. 

After I shared my frustrations in trying to cut circles in foam board, one teacher left a comment that it would have been easier for me to cut it with kitchen shears. Also if foam board sounds too hard to use, try gluing it to sheets of craft foam, which unlike foam board, is really easy to cut. Or you can just laminate and use it without the 3-D effect. However, gluing it to foam board really makes it easier for children to manipulate.

Anyway, I hope you will give it a try because it is really a great way to explain note values to children who haven’t learned fractions yet. If you’ve ever asked a student how many quarter notes is equal to a half note and received a blank stare,  you know what I mean. If they are in elementary school, it could be they have not yet been introduced to the concept of fractions, so you have to do that. Piano teachers are so used to gifted children that sometimes we forget many children don’t learn fractions until 4th grade. Rhythm Pizza works really well to get the concept across, plus you are giving them a head start in math. If students learn what notes equal instead of how many beats the notes receive, then it works for all time signatures. Two eighths always equals one quarter note.

We all learn in our own time.

Cut a picture of pizza into halves, quarters, and eighths to show rhythm values.



Filed under Rhythm, Teaching Aids, Theory, Uncategorized

Throwback Thursday Simple Sharps and Fearless Flats

Drawing Key Signatures

Simple Sharps and Fearless Flats

Simple Sharps and Fearless Flats are great to help students who are having trouble writing key signatures. Sometimes students are confused or have trouble putting the accidentals on the correct line or space.  A couple of years ago one of my students was struggling on learning how to draw key signatures on staves. His brother was there and said, “You haven’t done Simple Sharps and Fearless Flats? That’s the only way I was able to learn them.” Honestly, I was really amazed he could remember the name of these handouts after all those years. I can’t even remember what I named a worksheet last week!

I laminate these and use them as helpful posters when I am showing how to write key signatures.  They can also be printed and put in the  student’s binder for reference. The blank staff at the bottom can be used for practice. If you print multiple copies, try using the “fast” or “economy” setting to save ink. I do that and they look fine, just not as vibrant. They also work well in black and white, if you want to save color.

The large staves and spaced apart sharps and flats really do make writing key signatures simple and fearless, especially if I use them with 2 other helpful posters on a giant staff, Down a Fourth and Up a Fourth.

How to draw key signatures

Down a 4th up a 5th Bundle

By the way, I know so many US teacher use “Fat Cats Go Down And Eat Breakfast” and “BEAD Greatest Common Factor.” That is what I used in college, actually. But I like the Canadian/UK  “Father Charles” method because it is the same backwards and forwards. Certainly, you can teach your students either one!


Filed under Intermediate Students, Texas State Theory Test, Theory, Worksheets