Note-Cards: A Musical Matching Game

Have your cake and eat it too, with this fun and educational card game. Players will be exposed to & learn about various notes, rest, clefs, and other musical symbols. Based on the classic line of Crazy 8’s (UNO) card games, this version has slightly altered (yet intuitive) rules that reflect the nature of the symbols on the cards. Dotted notes make you draw cards, rests cause skips, etc. This easy to learn and simple to play game is perfect for any music home, family, or classroom!

Game Based Learning:

     I’m a huge fan of game based learning. I think it has a huge amount of potential when done, but can’t (and shouldn’t) be used for everything. Games have many uses in the classroom , making rote memorization fun is one of the areas that I believe it excels in. Learning each and every music symbol is a tedious task and not very rewarding, since many of the symbols are more of exceptions rather than rules. I find music to be intimidating actually, and I imagine my students might feel the same way. So I use a game to introduce the topic, it not only exposes them to the material, but also makes it seem accessible and friendly. The rules of this game are specifically tailored to the function of the notes and symbols represented on the cards. A whole rest, causes the next player to “rest” (skip their turn) a dotted note adds cards to the next player’s draw, and the fermata allow you to continue playing cards long after your turn. All of these small intuitive rules help introduce the complicated world of notes to my students.

When to use it:

     The card game is a support to my lesson(s). In GBL the game isn’t the teacher, it’s just a tool to help support learning. I’ve also found limiting the usage of the game helps keep it ‘special’ and makes its use continue to seem like a reward, even though we’re well into quarter 2. The best uses I’ve found are:

  • Center / Station Rotation
  • Reward time / Free time
  • Sub-Tub / Sub plans
  • Indoor Recess / After-school Time


    Ones of the parts of the game I’m most proud of is the rulebook/glossary. I’ve found students looking up each and every symbol to see what they mean (w/o teacher prompting!) The little guide book allows students to be self-driven and the center to be truly student-led. As Dr. Farber (U of N. Colorado) says ” When using games, try to avoid intervening when students are figuring something out. This affords students the opportunity to play with games as systems. ” (1) I think this is the beauty of game based learning. You can see in the video above the enthusiasm and excitement of the students as they figure everything out for themselves. In a way, it mirrors discovery learning but the game creates a system and a shared experience for all students involved. Again, all of these little tools and tricks are disguised as a reward, or “non-academic” activity which allows you to reach students who might not normally be interested in your material, and allows you to reach them in a new and meaningful way you might not have been able to before. 


A Print & Play version is available here:

A fully printed & boxed card game is available for purchase here:

6-8 Middle Schoolcenter activitiescenter rotationgame based learninggames in the classroomgamificationgamify the classroomhow to teach notationmusic centersmusic gamesmusic stationnotationuno

Frank Cademartori • December 1, 2017

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