The children in my classes call this chime bar action game ‘Stand-up! Sit-down!’ – kids do have such a knack for saying it how it is!
The game is very simple; each lesson you teach them one new interval and an action which goes with it. You warn them that whenever they hear these two notes, they should do that special action straight away. It’s a great way for getting their attention and making sure that they are listening. It keeps everyone on their toes, even you! Make sure you remember which are which, because if you get mixed up they’ll be sure to point it out!
Kids never cease to amaze me that they are so quick and keen to pick up games like this. They obviously don’t realise that they are making light work out of interval training, and at such a young age this is a wonderful foundation for musical development. Before long they can recognise and distinguish lots of intervals, and to make it even more of a challenge you can introduce short 3 or 4 note phrases with more complex actions.
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If you’ve visited this blog before you’ll already know that I’m a great advocate for chime bars, they are simply a brilliant tool for teaching kids all about music and so much more too. Check out my post Why Kids Should Play With Chime Bars for more detail and also links to lots of other chime bar listening and learning activities.
How To Play The Chime Bar Action Game
This is how we play it – feel free to make up your own actions for each interval, but do make sure that you are consistent to avoid any confusion.
- Start with So – Mi (G and E in the key of C major) as soon as you play the notes tell them to rock backwards and forwards like a see-saw. Once they have done it a few times, there will be no need to say anything, you play it and they just do the action without any prompts.
- The next time start off by reviewing So – Mi. Then introduce So – Do (G and C) and tell them to ‘sit down’ ( it’s probably a good idea to get them to stand up first) They will happily alternate between rocking see-saws and eagerly throwing themselves to the floor!
- Next introduce Do – Fa (C – F) as ‘stand up’. Depending on the age of the children, these 3 different commands might be enough for a couple of lessons. Only move on to a new action when they can easily recognise the ones already covered so far.
- Low Do – High Do – this octave leap calls for a big jump, so we ‘do a star jump!’
- The notes of the C chord descending Do – So – Mi – Do (C- G -E – C) ‘ Now touch your toes’
- Do – La – So the distinctive interval of a sixth resolving on the fifth (C – A – G) lends itself to ‘flap your wings’
- Another popular one is ‘stand on one leg’ Do – Re – Mi – Fa
- Once you get started there are so many possibilities, and you can always get the kids to help if you run out of ideas!
- Always start each game with a little recap over the intervals and their corresponding actions, and then when you play the game try to see if they can remember the actions without any prompting and just by listening and recall.
- Older children can take it in turns to be the teacher and play and sing the notes while the others do the actions, which is also good for consolidating the lesson learnt.