Review: Music Words Game

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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36 thoughts on “Review: Music Words Game

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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”

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

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