How to Make a Musical Charades Game

Children enjoy playing

Vena Long, a professor at the University of Tennessee advocates using games in the classroom because, “Fun is a motivator.” A charades game reviews facts while helping students explore how to express themselves creatively. Charades is a pantomime game in which a player acts out a phrase and his team wins by guessing the phrase correctly within the time allowed. Since charades is a popular game outside the classroom, your students will enjoy showing off their knowledge of music during a game of “Musical Charades.”

Write musical titles, notations, instruments and composers on separate pieces of paper before class. Titles can include compositions you listened to in class like Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition" or a popular song on the radio. Fermata, accent, quarter note, crescendo, allegro and staccato are good examples of musical notations.

Divide the class into two or more teams.

Discuss the nonverbal signals with the class. Here are a few of the common signals. Number of words: Point the number of fingers upward. Number of syllables in a word: Place the number of fingers on the opposite arm. Correct guess (“on the nose”): Point to the person who guessed correctly with one hand while pointing to your nose with the other hand. Rhyming (“sounds like”): Pull your earlobe.

Start the first round. A player from the first team picks a slip of paper and briefly reviews it. He hands it to the moderator who sets the timer for 3 minutes. The player’s team must guess the contents of that paper based on the player’s nonverbal clues within three minutes to earn a point. Continue the round until each team has had a turn.

Play as many rounds as time or interest allows. The team with the most points at the end of the last round wins.

  • First show the class how to play by acting out a musical notation and title for them to guess.
  • Build anticipation by having your students write ideas on the slips of paper the day before playing the game.

Celesta Letchworth started writing professionally in 1982 as a technical writer for a computer department. She has since had articles appear in "The Chorister," plays published by Lillenas Publishing Company, and has sold greeting card ideas to Dayspring. Letchworth holds a Master of Music degree from Southern Methodist University.