Do you have students who have a little difficultly learning to read sharp and flat keys or understanding the concept of enharmonic notes? Would you like to find another way besides a theory book or a worksheet to review these concepts? I made up this game for my students, and it is the fastest and most fun way to learn enharmonic notes and quickly identify accidentals. It is especially good for tactile learners.
Don’t Swipe My Sharp is a game on the piano keys the teacher can play with a student. The student draws and places a token on the correct sharp or flat key. The first player to cover all 5 black keys wins. To add to the fun, players can “swipe a sharp” from their opponent. There are also some optional white key sharp and flat enharmonic notes.
Objective: The student will learn to read and physically identify a selected group of enharmonic notes preceded with accidentals. The student will develop an understanding of enharmonic keys on the keyboard.
Level: Students in Level 2 and above enjoy playing this. It is designed for students who know the notes on the grand staff, but it can be played with all ages, even intermediate students who get confused with enharmonic notes.
Materials: Don’t Swipe My Sharp cards, 10 or more pawns that are suitable for placing on piano keys, and a piano keyboard. Suggestions for tokens are: inexpensive pencil erasers, glass jewel stones, small magnets, Lego blocks, or collectable erasers that are available in many shapes. The tokens should be able to stay on the black keys for the duration of the game. The age of the student can determine what tokens you use.
For younger children I use these cute erasers from my collection.
I like to use erasers on my piano keys because I know they will not scratch the keys.
Preparation: Print pages 1 – 4 of the Don’t Swipe My Sharp PDF file on card stock. Click the link at the top of the page to go to my website where you can print the PDF. Pages 5 and 6 are the optional back of the cards so do not print them initially.
There is one set of cards for the bass clef and one set for the treble clef. For ease in use, the cards for each clef are distinguished by color. There are two ways to do this. Option 1 is to print the front of the cards, pages 1-4, and reinsert the pages in your printer and print the back of the cards. The blue graphic is for the treble cards, and the green graphic is for the bass clef cards. Option 2 is to print the bass and treble clef cards on 2 colors of card stock and omit the back of the cards.
Directions: The student and teacher sit side by side on the bench. The black keys above and below middle C is the ‘game board”. Divide the cards by color, shuffle, and place on the piano music rack face down in front of each player. The player on the right has the treble clef cards, and the player on the left the bass. The cards without the staff, the Swipe My Sharp cards, should be in each deck, but make sure they are spread out in the deck and not the first card. Remove the white key enharmonic notes for a shorter game.
Student and teacher take turns drawing a card and placing a token on the corresponding key. If a student draws a note that is enharmonic to a key they have already covered, for example, G Flat when F sharp is already covered, the player cannot place a token and skips a turn.
If he draws a Swipe My Sharp card, he “swipes” a token off his opponent’s key and puts it on his own key, if it is vacant. He can only take a sharp he needs, and he must verbally identify it as a sharp key in order to “swipe” it. For example, if he needs an F# on his keys, he must stay, “I’m swiping your F# (not G flat). Of course, you can change this rule if you want the keys identified as flats!
The game is over when the first person covers all 5 black keys or how many you decide before you play. It is a very fast game, and quite easy, even thought it might not seem like it when you read my instructions!
There are other ways to play. You can print out more note flash cards and use more than one octave. You can play in a small group using paper keyboards. You can set the rule that the student can keep their Swipe My Sharp card and use it later when they need it.
I used the cards to introduce accidentals to a 6-year-old primer student who asked me what the sharp and flat symbols meant. He learned it very quickly and enjoyed the game. He went home and wrote a song with E flats! So while I intended this for older students, I have found a lot of different uses for this game.