Matrix Ed. Blog

Games, activities, ideas and more for teaching strings and the music theory connection!

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Lucky Quarters

Lucky Quarters is a game of note value. Students add up values of rolled dice, which represent complete beats or parts of beats. The goal is to use these note values represented in the die, to complete measures in a certain time signature. It is based on a dice game called Farkle. 

Prior Knowledge

* Students can identify note values ranging from a 16th through a whole note/rest, by symbol and by name

* Students understand basic information regarding meter

* Students can add up small value numbers (6 or less as on a dice)


* 6 dice and a small cup for rolling

* Scoring: Either magic notes (bingo chips) and Gold Coins from the Music Mind Games Materials, or just pencil and paper

* Rhythm note value visuals (Music Mind Games Rhythm Playing Cards are used in the video), 

* Optional staff paper (see Sound Connection below)


* Set up the note value visual reference so all players can view

* Decide on the meter (4/4, 3/4 and 5/4 work well)

* Decide how many complete measures will win the game 

  2 players - 12-16  sugested

  3-4 players - 10-12 suggested

  5 or more players - 8-10 suggested or play in teams for 10-12

* Explain the dice to note/rest values

  1=16th, 2=8th, 3=dotted 8th, 4=1/4, 5=nothing on its own, 6=dotted 1/3, 

  5+3=1/2, 6+6=dotted 1/2, 5+5+6=whole

Play By Play

1. Player rolls the dice. They MUST roll a 1/4 (4) in order to take their turn. 

2. Player matches the values to the reference in hopes that their rhythm values will complete a whole measure

3. If a player is unhappy and wishes to roll again, he/she MUST hold on to at least one 1/4 value dice and then roll any other dice a second time.

   If they do not roll a 1/4 on their second roll they are "CUT" and lose any points/measures in that turn. 

4. If a player has values that complete a measure they get a point (chip or marked with pencil)

5. If a player rolls four of 1, 2, 5, or 6 it is automatically worth one measure

6. If a player rolls four 1/4 values it is automatically worth four measures (lucky quarters)

7. If a player uses all 6 dice they may roll all 6 dice again, but if they do NOT roll a 1/4, they are "cut" and lose all points/measures in that turn.

8. The first player to reach the set number of measures wins the game

Sound Connection

* Players notate each complete measures as they play. At the end all players sight-read the winners rhythms with or without instruments.

   Add harmony with singing or instruments. The student may add pitches to their composition for sharing at a later time

* Students can say/count/Clap/Pat each completed rhythm before the next player takes their turn. 



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This game connects fingerbaord geographystring alphabet and string staff notation.

Teachers may focus on 2 strings at a time (A Major, D Major or G Major Scale) or the complete fingerboard in first position with or without 4th fingers. The goal is to mark a complete string or a complete row of the same finger (open 1, 2, 3 or 4) for a String Bingo. The game may end with one bingo or continue until many bingos have been achieved. The teacher can incorporate sharps as they choose.

Finger Bingo Board

Flat Fingerboard

Prior Knowledge

*  Basic instrument parts

*  Music alphabet 

* First position staff notation of all the notes in first position or isolated A Major, D Major or G Major scale notes 


* Music Alphabet cards, 4 sets per player (Music Mind Games, handmade or other)

* Magic Note bingo chips

* finngerboard nut with Music Mind Games puzzle note stems, popscicle sticks, or pencils

* 2 Sets of Staff Note Cards (Music Mind Games Grand Steff Cards or other flashcards with staff notation)


* Students find the open string letters, each a different color and lay them out left to right low to high

* Use your fingerboard prop to lay underneath the open strings

* Lay out the string alphabet for the fingered notes (1-3)

* Firs Position Fingerboard: Remove any staff notes out of first position on the E string 

  A and E strings: Remove any notes from the D and G strings

  D and G strings: Remove any notes from the A and E strings from the deck

* Shuffle up the two sets of staff cards and place between players

* Place the magic notes in between players

Play By Play

* The goal is to mark either any complete string alphabet (Ex: G string, G A B C) or any complete row of 1 finger (1st finger A E B F)

* Player 1 draws a staff card and marks that letter on the flat fingerboard. Player keeps that staff card in a pile

* Continue play until someone gets a bingo

* If a student draws a staff card that they have already marked (there are 2 of each) simply place in a discard pile. The other player may draw a new card or from the discard pile

* When a player calls bingo they must prove it with their staff cards

* The game may end at 1 bingo or continue until all the cards have been used and a few bingos have been reached

Sound Connection

* Use instruments to play back some bingos (any finger across all the strings or  any 1 complete string)

* Students can listen to the teacher play any bingo row or string, and follow with their fingers and eyes

* Students can say/sing the letters as they finger on invisible instruments


Finger Bingo Board

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This is a variation of a Music Mind Games game. Students gain experience with fingerboard geography from the players perspective. Students discover how the alphabet moves forward from the nut, and continues after the 3rd finger with the next open string. 

Flat Fingerboard Fine

Prior Knowledge

  • Music Alphabet in 2nds
  • How the alphabet moves forward from the nut (A B C D….)
  • Basic instrument parts (nut, string, fingerboard)
  • Basic idea of 1st 2nd and 3rd fingers in the left hand


  • Music Alphabet cards (Music Mind Games or hand made)
  • Something to represent the nut (Music Mind Games puzzle stems, pencils or popsicle sticks)
  • 3 markers for 2st second and 3rd fingers (bingo chips, or even dice to label 1-3)


  • Each child gets 4 sets of alphabet cards, each a different color
  • Place the open string letters above the nut, each a different color and put any extra cards face down in a pile out of the way
  • Working one string at a time place the letters on each string coming from the nut
  • Once you have 4 strings (1st through 3rd fingers) each a different color you are ready to begin

Play By Play

  • Leaving the open string letters above the nut, shuffle the fingerboard letters (1st-3rd finger letters) and when the leader says go put them back in order. It’s recommended to do one string at a time.
  • When the players are done they say “fingerboard fine!”

Sound Connection

* Students can pick up instruments and finger/say/sing/pizz each string one at a time, all strings low to high, or in scale patterns

* Teacher can play up and down single strings, in scale patterns, or all strings low to high-high to low while students practice saying/singing/thinking the string alphabet forwards and backwards (D E F# G G F# E D). Students can follow allong with their fingers pointing to each letter, or use a small toy to track the letters on the flat fingerboard. 


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This Game is a fun way for students to practice the notation of open strings by applying a basic knowledge of intervals (seconds and thirds as steps and skips) and get an introduction moving in fifths, as do the open strings on the violin. 

Open String Hop


  • Staff
  • Lines & Spaces
  • Letters of the Open Strings low to high and high to low
  • Steps (line-space or space-line) and Skips (space to space or line to line)


  • Single Staff board with treble clef
  • Open String Letter cards (optional)
  • 4 magic notes or bingo chips
  • Ledger line card
  • 1 small animal, lego or squinky toy that can fit on a magic note circle


  1. Place the treble clef on a Single Staff Board
  2. Place the open string letters to the left of the staff low to high G-E vertically
  3. 1 ledger line card set on bottom staff line for open G note
  4. 4 magic notes of the same color and one animal friend to the side

Play by Play

  • Hold up one hand with palm facing you
    • Review: These five fingers match the 5 lines of the open staff
    • Review: The lowest note of the violin, open G string lives two ledger lines below the lowest line of a staff when we write it - or notate it.
      • Hold up two fingers below your hand.
      • Review that open G is the space below these two ledger lines
      • It’s fun to use your nose as a note head
  • Place one magic note in the Open G space below the staff
  • Place an animal friend on open G (fun to use a frog to hop or a butterfly to flutter)
  • Hop Hop the animal up two spaces (two 3rds or one 5th) to land in open D string space then place a magic note there just to the right of open G.
  • Continue this hop hop until all 4 open strings are notated. You can practice hopping up and down the open strings on the staff board
    • “G hop hop D, hop hop A, hop hop E…..”
  • After this idea of two 3rds is easy the student can then leap the 5th
    • “G leap up to D, leap up to A, leap up to E, leap down to A……”

Sound Connection

  • Ear Training
    • Teacher plucks the open strings (in playing position or with the instrument laying flat) and the child hops the animal to the open string they hear
  • Reading
    • Teacher hops the animal to an open string notated on the staff and the student plucks the open strings low to high, high to low or mixed up while you move the animal to the matching notation.
    • Student and teacher together can write out a pattern of open strings on the staff and then read the pattern out loud (say or singing) while hopping the animal toy, and then later plucking the strings on the instrument.


Open String Hop (Violin) Video


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