When I was attending the PianoAccent session of our state conference, I was one of the lucky winners of Gail Fischler’s Musical Word game. I was happy that I was able to try it out with one of my last summer camp classes before we headed into break.

Musical Words is a board game based on The Musical Adjectives Project. The project was founded by Dr. Gail Fischler of the Piano Addict blog. Collecting and categorizing adjectives and images, with her students at Eastern Arizona College, to aid pianists and musicians in describing and understanding the emotions and character within repertoire. Gail says “The original inspiration was a wonderful reference handout (now dog-eared and very, very faded) by Maurice Hinson which consisted of an entire page full of adjectives.”IMG_6416

Included is the game board, game cards, directions and tips. There are a couple ways to play the game which is included in the directions. It can also be adapted to your ideas as well.

The way we played it in our camp session was like this…

Students first wrote down adjectives on the game board with a white board marker (Game board can be purchased laminated or non-laminated. I recommend just getting it laminated). Then they rolled the dice. When they landed on an adjective they had the choice to sight-read a piece using that adjective or improv something using that adjective. None of my students had their music with them for this particular camp session which is why I decided to go the sight-reading and improv route with the game.

IMG_6418If students landed on draw a card, then they would draw a card that would give them a “reward” such as moving forward so many spaces or “obstacles” such as sitting out one turn. Some of the cards had a little bit of both a reward and obstacle in the same card.IMG_6415


We had a good time playing the game. I am definitely going to use it again with all my students in upcoming group classes and/or camps. This game doesn’t need to be played in a group setting, it can easily be played with student and teacher. The great thing about Musical Words that many games don’t do is that it gets the students playing, sight-reading, improvising and really paying attention to what the character of the piece is and how they can portray that to their listeners.

I asked my students if they had any other ideas that might be fun to implement with this game for a future class. Because the action in my grand was taken by my piano technician (can’t wait until it comes back) we used the Clavinova in the studio lab room. This gave one of my students the idea that it would be fun to use the different sounds and instruments the Clavinova provides. I thought that would be a real fun idea! So next time we just might try that!

Here is a short video of Gail demonstrating the game.

Now the really fun part! Gail Fischler has offered to do a giveaway of Musical Words. Thanks Gail! To enter, just leave a comment below. Deadline to enter is this Monday, June 30th, 10:00pm (AZ Mountain Standard)  GIVEAWAY HAS EXPIRED

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  1. Marcine Fennel

    Fabulous/Fun way to add emotion to a student’s playing! Treat idea, thanks.

  2. Dorothy Mullikin

    This is a different approach to sightreading and improv and I love it. Really hope I win it!!

  3. Saundra

    What a fun game for both sight reading and interpretation. Thanks! I would love to include this in my studio.

  4. lynnkie

    looking for the video??

  5. Donna

    Creative, fun, not boring, motivating! I would love to use this game in my studio!!

  6. EvelynYearty

    Would love to have this game for my studio. It sounds like great fun!

  7. Carol

    I love the concept of this game! Looks like great fun and creativity will be had by all!

  8. Mala

    In my high school Piano I class, this would be a great way to not only review musical concepts, but the Language Arts teachers would love the fact that we would also be reviewing adjectives!

  9. Christine Bookman

    How much fun is that? My students would love this! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Lisa Hunt

    This looks like a great game!

  11. Teresa

    What Fun!!! My retention level has improved so much since I started using games.

  12. Karen C

    It’s always great to get free resources. This one looks great!

  13. Carla

    I would LOVE to try this game out. It looks so fun and colorful and kids respond so well through games!

  14. Jeannie

    Love playing music games with my students

  15. Kathy

    Always looking for new ideas to use in my studio. This sounds like fun!

  16. Paulette hanchett

    Looks like fun

  17. Sue

    Looks like a lot of fun! The draw cards are so creative! Good job!!!

  18. Carla Faye

    Would love to add this game to my other games

  19. Susan

    What a good idea to use a game board and the piano together. Susan

  20. Brad

    Always can use new games

  21. Sue

    I like the idea that the game will get students up and really thinking about the adjectives as they sight-read or improvise a piece. Sometimes in the pieces they are working on, they just won’t take the time to do that. This games sounds like it would really put the focus on creating the right sound for the listener.

  22. Geri Miller

    Sounds like a fun and different kind of game to use with my piano students!

  23. lynnkie

    if you look at Satie’s markings, there are things like “modified rapture”, “moderately & very bored”, “severe reprimand”, “rather slow, if it’s alright with you”

  24. Marilyn

    I would be very interested in something like this. I look for ways to get students more flexible in their thinking about sound and how music is used to communicate as a universal language. I may just try this idea in an abbreviated way at my next lesson!

  25. Valerie A Evensen NCTM

    This would be a great game for my groups this coming year. I’d love to win.

  26. Maureen Karpan

    Just watched the video. Looks like fun. My students have a bunch of pieces memorized, so they would pick a popsicle stick from my cup and play the adjective. Or improvise something. Fun!

  27. Rhoda

    Great game for a 3 to 5 minute variety in lesson.

  28. Lori

    I think getting students to put emotion into their pieces can be one of the most difficult to teach. This game could be a great help!

  29. Ann Keyes

    I second Lori’s thought. Those who are not good readers take too long dealing with notes and rhythms and spend no time on emotion. The game sounds like just what they need in their group.

  30. Angela Jacob

    Would love this game for my older students group lessons.

  31. Heather McCook

    Looks like a fun and creative game! I know my students would love to play something like this! 🙂

  32. Joan

    Extending student musical vocabulary in a game is what I need! Count me in. Thanks.


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