Fifteen Keys

 Fifteen Keys

In our state theory test, students in the 6th grade need to know all of the major key signatures.  Minor keys are added in the 7th grade.  Like many teachers, I show them how to use a chart to help with accuracy and possible careless mistakes.

This year I made a board game to give students some guided practice in using a chart and learning key signatures. First we downloaded a blank chart and filled it out. You can get it below.


Blank Key Signature Chart

I encourage you to use this chart with the game, too, unless your students are very experienced in key signatures. One good thing about this game is that by using the chart, even beginning students can play.

I had fun making the cards for this game.  Some of the cards have silly riddles and puns on the word “key.”  I hope your students enjoy the humor. I thought of more riddles after I made the cards, and if you think of any, let me know!  The answers to the riddles are here.*

This game is similar to the Nine Keys Game that I posted a few years ago, except that this one has all new cards,  and the Nine Keys Game only has, well, 9 key signatures, rather than 15! Nine Keys

There are 7 pages in this PDF. The last page is an optional back to the cards. You will need to print the cards separately because I formatted the cards  for a business card template, such as this one on Amazon. First, I printed just the game board on card stock. Then I inserted the business card stock and printed the cards. Finally, I reinserted the cards and printed the backs. If you don’t have business card stock, connect the short lines and cut them out. But I am so happy to use the business cards! [I also found the business card stock at Sam’s for less.]

I’ve played this two ways. The longer version has the tokens moving all over the game board, backwards and forwards, which makes it fun, but takes a little longer to finish.


  • This game is for middle school students, but I’ve successfully played it with younger students.
  •  Remove the minor key cards from the deck to play with students who are learning only major keys.
  • The game is also good for group lessons or music camps.
  • It helps if students have a basic understanding of key signatures, but it is not a requirement if they use the chart.


  • Fifteen Keys, the free printable game board from my website.
  • Key signature chart, or Circle of Fifths chart
  • The cards, cut or separated.
  • A small game token for each player.


Fast version

  • Place the key signature chart in full view.
  • Players take turns drawing a game card. Depending on the card, they either move forward to the key on the card, or answer the question and follow the directions. Students can look at the chart to find the names of the key signatures.
  • If they draw a key signature that is not located past their token, they do not move to a key they have already passed, but draw again.
  • The game is over when a player lands on or moves past “win.”

Slower version

  • Place the key signature chart in full view.
  • Players take turns drawing a game card. Depending on the card, they either move forward to the key on the card, or answer the question and follow the directions. Students can look at the chart to find the names of the key signatures.
  • If it is a key signature card, the player moves to the closest key signature specified on the card, even it they have to move backwards to a key they have already passed by.
  • The game is over when a player draws the exact number to land on “win” or when a player moves past “win.”


  • To learn to quickly identify all the major and/or minor key signatures.
  • To learn how to draw and use a key signature chart.


  • 3 things that need a key: House, car, scale, door, music, etc. 
  • What barnyard bird can open doors: Tur”key”.  (or Turn”key”)
  • Key signature’s favorite dance: Ho”key” Po”key”
  • What jungle animal loves key signatures? Mon”key”
  • What barnyard animal sings off key? Don”key”
  • When you are slow you may be called: Pokey
  • What kind of key can you type on: Keyboard
  • Another name for the tonic is: the Keynote


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11 thoughts to “Fifteen Keys – A Key Signature Game

  • Sara @ Sara's Music Studio

    This is great, Susan! I’m going to use it as part of my Piano Improv camp next week. Thanks for sharing your wonderful resources! I’ll be sure to share pictures of my students playing the game 🙂

  • Natalie Gibson Grimes

    Looking forward to trying your game with students…thanks for sharing your creativity!

    • Susan Paradis

      You’re very welcome!

  • Joanna

    Thank you for this Susan. I will try it out on my students. I love your website.

  • Henry flurry

    Yay! Thanks for using the b-card template! Makes it so much easier to print and use on short notice!

  • Cindy

    I’ve really been stressing the Circle of Fifths in my studio so I am excited about these games. I’m wondering if this can be adapted to private lessons? I usually let my younger students play a game the last five minutes of the lesson if the lesson has gone well! (as an incentive!) Thanks for making this available to us!

    • Susan Paradis

      Cindy, I made this game from private lessons. I suggested it can be used in groups, but I tested it in private lessons.

  • Mary Vandersteen

    For order of sharps I like “Father can go driving after eating breakfast.”
    For oder of flats: “BEAD geese can fly”

    • Susan Paradis

      Thanks, Mary. For sharps, I use “Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle.” Then students can see the flat keys are in reverse: “Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles Father.” I also use BEAD Greatest Common Factor, and I’ve used the one about Fat Cats.

      • Lavinia Livingsto

        I am so excited, Susan. Key Signatures, major and minor, is a theory focus in my lesson plans for this year. Even my 3rd graders are proud to know about 5 sharps and seem anxious to challenge themselves to even 6 and 7 sharps and flats. It seems that internet access has exposed these little ones to so much information that they are open to anything and have no concept that something is “too hard” for them. Thank you, Thank you for this challenging game.
        Will you be creating a new design for the Studio Calendar? I so enjoyed using the beautiful border last year.

        • Susan Paradis

          Lavinia, thanks for your comment. And about the calendar, I’ve already made it. I type it all in by hand, but it’s done and when I have time I’ll post it.


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