Sharing the magic of music: fun musical games to play at home

IGS Head of Music Alison Housley shares ideas for families to enjoy music together.

The pleasure of sharing music builds connections between parents and children, as sounds and rhythms surround the child in a world of sensations and feelings.

Music also offers a joyful and rewarding learning experience and nurtures a child’s imagination and creativity.

There are many ways families can enjoy music activities together at home.

Each week we will share different ways in which families can enjoy music together whether it be through games, craft or film. This weeks’ list includes fun musical games families can play at home. 

Musical games to play at home

1. Make your own music

This game allows you to encourage your child’s interest in music in a fun and entertaining way.

You will need:

  • Sheets of paper
  • Color pens

How to play:

  1. Create symbols and denote the sounds they mean. For example, a star symbol means ‘clap’, a circle means ‘stomp your foot’, a triangle means ‘hit the desk’, and a square means ‘snap your fingers’.
  2. Have children compose their own music, using only the symbols.
  3. Then let the children point to their symbols while parents and family members create the sounds.

They will clap, they will snap, and clap again before stomping their feet and hitting the desks…! And all of this will be music to their ear.                                                 

2. Musical masterpiece

This game brings the best of both worlds – art or drawing and music – to bring out whatever talent the child has. The game is played best in groups.

You will need: 

  • A music player or a computer
  • Sheets of paper
  • Color pens and pencils for the students

How to play: 

  1. Give each person a sheet of paper and coloured pencils.
  2. Instruct the students to start drawing when you play the music and stop drawing when the music stops.
  3. Everyone moves to another person’s sheet and continues drawing and colouring in that sheet until the music stops again.
  4. In the end, they go back to their desks and see the final product.


3. Yes/No Game

How to play: 

  1. The parent is the conductor who will say a few musical or rhythmic phrases to begin with and the children will have to repeat.
  2. Then replace the notes with ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. The children will have to say the opposite of what you say, in the same rhythmic fashion.
  3. For example, if you sing, “No, no, no, yes, no, yes, no, no”, then the kids will have to sing “yes, yes, yes, no, yes, no, yes, yes”.

You can use only one word or mix up the two words to make it confusing and fun for the kids.

4. Musical hide and seek 

This musical hide and seek is played with objects and is an excellent tool to help the child improve their listening skills.

You will need:

  • A musical toy or device
  • Hiding places

How to play: 

  1. The objective of the game is for the child to find the toy by listening to its music.
  2. Turn the toy’s music on and hide it somewhere the child can find.
  3. Keep hiding the toy and make it a little complicated each time.

The more the child plays it, the better his listening skills get.


5. The passing game

The passing game is a popular activity that can engage kids for a long time.

You will need:

  • A gift or a package
  • Wrapping paper
  • Chocolates or small toys

How to play:

  1. Wrap the package with as many layers as possible. The more the layers, the better it is for the game.
  2. Between each layer, place a toffee or a small toy.
  3. Make the children sit in a circle. When the music starts, they pass the parcel. And when it stops, they stop.
  4. The child who is holding the parcel when the music stops should unwrap one layer of the parcel to see if he gets a gift.
  5. The child moves out, and the rest continue the game.

The game is played until all the layers are unwrapped. Or you can have multiple parcels and play until there is just one person left.


6. Musical chair reading

This is a variation of the regular musical chairs game and can be played in a class to encourage reading or recitation.

You will need:

  • Chairs
  • Space
  • Music

How to:

  1. Pick an activity that you want each child to take turns and do. You could try reading from a book or solving a math problem.
  2. Arrange the chairs in a circular fashion and play the music.
  3. The children should walk as long as the music is playing and sit in the closest chair as soon as the music stops.
  4. The child who is left standing when the music stops has to read a paragraph from the book or solve the math problem.

7. What’s that sound?

How does the guitar sound? What is the sound of the cello? If you want your child to identify and learn how different instruments sound, you should try this game.

You will need:

  • Music player
  • Different instrumental music

How to play:

  1. Play the sounds of different instruments first.
  2. Then play a simple song with distinct sounds of the instruments and ask the children to identify the instruments.

You can make each level more complicated by playing songs with not-so-distinct instrument sounds.

8. Musical trivia

A quiz about music. Create trivia questions relating to musical notes or tunes or about your child’s favorite bands or singers and their songs!

You will need:

  • Set of questions
  • Gifts

How to play:

  1. You could make this an individual event or a team event.
  2. When playing this divide the team into groups. Give them cool team names – you could use names of composers.

9. Antakshari

A popular local game played in India and the Middle East, played in teams. It usually involves singing of Bollywood or regional movie songs, but you can change the rules to sing any songs you like.

You will need:

  • Place to play
  • Microphone (optional)

How to play:

  1. Establishing clear rules is essential to play the game without any glitches.
  2. To start the game, the moderator will pick a letter of the alphabet. The first team has to sing a song (no more than a para or two) starting with that letter.
  3. The next team has to sing a song starting with the consonant that the first team’s song ends with.
  4. And so on, each team has to sing a song starting with the consonant that the previous team’s song ends with.
  5. Any team that fails to do so will lose points.

The team with the highest number of points wins. You can make variations of this game to make it interesting. For instance, you can have different rounds or levels in the game where the kids have to sing songs only from a particular genre or a particular generation or by a particular type of band.


10. Karaoke competitions

Simple but pure fun, karaoke is one thing you can enjoy with family as well as friends.

You will need:

  • A microphone and sound system
  • Karaoke songs – make sure you pick songs that your child knows and enjoys singing

How to play:

  1. Write down a list of songs on small pieces of paper and put them in a box.
  2. Divide the participants into teams.
  3. Your child, along with the partner, has to sing-along the song correctly.

You could score them on tune and tone but avoid judging their singing voice. To make the competition challenging, throw in a few songs that they are not familiar with. That way, they’ll have to use whatever music knowledge they have to try and guess the right tune!

Stay tuned for our next IGS Magic of Music blog, on musical games that make you move!