16 wonderfully creative ways to teach children music theory

2 April 2020, 17:38 | Updated: 22 October 2020, 08:56

Beethoven's 5th, conducted by a 3-year-old boy

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Put those dull pencils and boring manuscript paper away: here are some fun and creative ways of teaching the basics of music.

From note values and rhythm, right through to time signatures and enharmonics, these activities will get budding musos thinking and learning...

  1. Music theory cars

    Does your young one love all things four-wheeled? Use it to their musical advantage with this car and staff-line matching game.

    Music theory cars
    Music theory cars. Picture: And Next Comes
  2. Music theory blooms

    In this game, flowers, stems and leaves stand for notes, definitions and meanings - match them up and watch the musical knowledge grow.

    Music theory blooms
    Music theory blooms. Picture: Social media
  3. Watch them grow...

    Matching the terms and symbols, to help them learn rhythm and solfège.

  4. Musical dominoes

    A rhythmic variation of the classic game. And of course you can make these yourself!

  5. And the circle of fifths dominoes...

    Musical dominoes again, this time with key signatures and keys, to really get your head around all those sharps and flats.

    Musical dominoes
    Musical dominoes. Picture: Social media
  6. Outdoor percussion

    Get those budding percussionists to head into the garden with these pitched and unpitched instruments to be thumped and whacked in time. Might want to warn the neighbours first...

  7. Musical cupcakes

    Matching musical notation to their meanings has never been more delicious.

    Musical cupcakes
    Musical cupcakes. Picture: Social media
  8. The lyrical treasure hunt

    Composition and a good run around the back yard. Hidden eggs each contain a phrase – find them, open them and then construct a melody in the order they were discovered. And then (like every Schubert minuet) repeat.

    Lyrical treasure hunt
    Lyrical treasure hunt. Picture: Social media
  9. The piano peg

    Today, hang the tea towel on D#. Learn the keys and enharmonics, and keep your kitchen clean. (though it's a strange looking keyboard in this one - we're sure you can do better)

    Piano peg
    Piano peg. Picture: Social media
  10. Pit – with music

    A music theory version of the very popular Pit card game, helping you learn notes, clefs and the keyboard.

    Pit with music
    Pit with music. Picture: Social media
  11. Rhythmic tops and bottoms

    Tops and bottoms – mix up the tops and bottoms, and then match them! Great for getting that understanding of rhythm and subdivision.

    Rhythmic tops and bottoms
    Rhythmic tops and bottoms. Picture: Social media
  12. Ping pong rhythmic

    Imagine dozens of these flying around the room. Get someone to call out the time signature and then try and find the balls to match (and throw any you don't need). Bonus - you get to throw ping pong balls around a room.

    Ping-pong rhythms
    Ping-pong rhythms. Picture: Social media
  13. Make it pretty

    When teaching the musical alphabet, colours and animals help...

  14. Make the instruments beautiful...

    Bring some magic to your children’s practice sessions with beautifully coloured musical instruments.

  15. Colouring, rolling dice and fun!

    These are fantastic resources from the Instagram page @musicpluscoffee (yes to the coffee too, please).

  16. Sit down and listen to a wonderfully entertaining classical music podcast

    If you're after a moment of music and entertainment for the kids, you could get them listening to David Walliams' Marvellous Musical Podcast on Global Player. Here's a taster...