Playing games is one of the best ways for children (and grown-up children) to learn, but not all games lend themselves well to playing with more than 2 people. If you’ve been stumped coming up with group piano lesson games, I’m here to help!
This article was originally written in April 2016 and was updated in April 2019. It was edited and expanded in July 2022.
One of the biggest mistakes I see new group teachers make is not taking full advantage of the group format. Groups have so many benefits, but only if you really embrace all the things you can do once you have several students together in a lesson.
If you know me at all, you’ll know I place fun and games at the very top of the list…and some of my favourite group piano lesson games are played on my floor grand staff.
How to Make a Floor Staff
Before you can have fun with these games, you’ll need your own floor staff. And with a little time and energy, there are many ways you can make your own.
The five ideas below range from super easy to a little more complicated. So if one seems beyond your own DIY skills, just keep reading – you’re bound to find one more to your liking!
DIY Floor Staff No. 1: Nicola
My own version of the floor grand staff is a pretty simple project if you’re a reasonably confident sewer.
I made the base from cotton calico with black ribbon applique lines and clefs. Then I padded it with some quilting. The padding is not strictly necessary, but it does make it more comfy when we’re climbing around on top of it.
The space between the lines is 11 cm (or 4.3 in, which just happens to be a perfect fit for these foam circles which I get from a discount store called Mr Price).
There’s a small ledger line to represent middle C. I didn’t put extra space between the two clefs, so it’s similar to the version of the grand staff used in many younger beginner books (where middle C is equidistant from the treble clef and bass clef.)
DIY Floor Staff No. 2: Brenda
Brenda is a sewer like me, so she created this beautiful floor staff out of an old tablecloth and black ribbons.
Romeo the cat definitely gives it the seal of approval!
DIY Floor Staff No. 3: Austin
Here’s another example from a Vibrant Music Teaching member, Austin.
Austin asked a friend to crochet a smaller floor staff to suit his space.
DIY Floor Staff No. 4: Laura
If you’re not a sewer and you don’t have any friends who are handy with a crochet hook, don’t let that hold you back! You can even create a DIY floor staff using tape or permanent marker on plain sheets or table cloths. It doesn’t need to be fancy. 😉
This example is from another member of Vibrant Music Teaching. Laura used a rug about 1.5 x 2 metres (5 x 7 feet) and 1.15 cm (1/2 inch) electrical tape for her grand staff.
DIY Floor Staff No. 5: Sarah
Vibrant Music Teaching member (and VMT’s very own Content Manager) Sarah started her floor grand staff with a rug like Laura did above, but she painted the lines and clefs instead of using tape.
First she marked off the lines using painter’s tape.
Then she used a paintbrush to apply black paint from the hardware store, really pushing the paint deep into the rug so it didn’t just sit on top.
After tossing in a few bean bags, Sarah’s floor grand staff was ready to go.
Purchase a Grand Staff Blanket
If you’re not comfortable crafting, you can also now buy this grand staff blanket from the Colourful Keys store. This soft and cosy blanket can be spread on the floor for playing lots of fun games like twister and staff races.
If you’re on a hard floor, I recommend a rubber mat underneath (like you’d use for a rug) to stop it from slipping.
Group Piano Lesson Games with your Floor Staff
I use the floor staff for lots and lots of games in both individual and group piano lessons. Here are just a few of my favourites.
Group Piano Lesson Game 1: Grand Staff Interval Races
The floor grand staff is fantastic for working with intervals. It helps students experience the interval shapes in a whole new way. And it’s even better when turned into a group music lesson game!
- Place a small toy for each player at the bottom of the staff.
- Players roll the die and move up that interval (e.g. if they roll a 5, they move up a 5th.)
- The winner is the first to reach the top line F.
For this game, I like to use large foam dice like these. They’re less likely to roll under the furniture when the game gets especially playful. 😉
Group Piano Lesson Game 2: Grand Staff Twister
Remember getting all tangled up with the game Twister when you were a kid? (Or maybe last week…? 😆) With a floor grand staff and this (FREE!) spinner printable, you can bring that tangled-up fun to your group music lessons.
I like to play Grand Staff Twister with four players: two in the treble clef and two in the bass. I think four is a nice number, but you could probably squeeze in six depending on the size of your staff.
I was surprised by how easily even my weak note readers were able to find the right note in Grand Staff Twister! I really think this is a fantastic tool to help struggling students view the staff in a new way.
To get the Grand Staff Twister printable just enter your details below and I’ll send it to you, completely free.
Subscribe to the newsletter and get the Grand Staff Twister Spinner Printable
Enter your details to subscribe to the newsletter for piano teachers with information, tips and offers.
I hate spam as much as you do! I will only send you emails related directly to piano teaching and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Vibrant Music Teaching members can grab Grand Staff Twister instantly from the VMT Library. Not a member yet? Find out more and consider joining today.
Group Piano Lesson Game 3: Grand Staff Beanbag Toss
For this game, players need to be in two teams. The teams can be as big or small as you like.
- Players take turns to throw a beanbag, trying to get it inside the grand staff.
- The thrower attempts to name the note it landed on. If they’re right, their team gets 2 points.
- If the thrower can’t name the note but their team can, the team gets 1 point.
- The winner is the team with the most points when the time is up.
This game is great for reinforcing the steps, skips and backwards musical alphabet with your group piano students. And, like the Grand Staff Twister and Interval Race games, struggling readers can often see patterns differently when they can interact physically with giant staff on the floor.
You can get more advice and resources for teaching group lessons on our hub page entirely devoted to Planning Lessons.
Do you have a floor grand staff?
If so, do you use it more in one-on-one lessons, or in group settings?
27 thoughts on “Group Piano Lesson Games with a Floor Grand Staff”
I love the Twister game. Do you enlarge it and put it on fabric? If so, could you explain a bit…how large, what type of fabric, how you do the transfer, etc? THANKS!
The twister game is on the grand staff pictured above Mary. The spinner has “right hand A” for example instead of “right hand red”. The kids then put their right hand on whatever ‘A’ is closest to them. Have I answered your question?
Gotcha!!! Thank you.
Our floor staves are almost identical. Mine was made the same way (by my lovely grandmother years ago). It has stood up to a lot of use. I think one of my favourite ways to use it is demonstrating the difference between space and line notes to littlies. They really understand when they stand in the space or on the line. I also have a floor keyboard made the same way that is EXCELLENT for hopscotching across letters or groups of black keys.
I have a keyboard version too. I’m really looking forward to using the floor staff to introduce littles to the staff, while they’re still in a pre-reading stage. I think it’s going to be awesome for ear training and relating up-down on the piano to right-left on the piano, a disconnect the littlest students often have to overcome.
Hi Nicola, Thank you for sharing your “proven” music teaching games with us.
I have wanted to make a giant floor Grand Staff.
You have inspired me.
BIG ?’s What size is your floor Grand Staff?
Is it washable?
Do yo have any tips that will make this project easier to make?
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.
Thanks for the beautiful color wheel for Twister!
I have chosen to mark the floor with blue painters tape. I even fashion a clef sign with it. The tape goes on in 5 minutes and comes up in 5 minutes. I use the tiles on the floor for the spacing of the staff and make it as long as I need for the number of children. There is no residue from the blue tape and the cost is minimal when purchased in bulk.
Besides marking the floor, you could also use a very large rubber backed rug, painter’s tarp, heavy vinyl upholstery fabric, or whatever you choose that won’t slip or move under children’s feet.
You have choices for the staff lines. Lines can be made of grosgrain ribbon that is affixed with iron on tape or fabric glue, sewn, or just paint the staff with fabric paints. The main thing is for the spacing to be proportional to the width of your lines. You’ll be able to see if the staff looks disproportional.
For the monetary investment and time, I think I’ll stick with the tape since it’s cheaper, easy to move, and easy to store.
What are the dimensions of your floor Grand Staff?
Do yo have any tips that will make this project easier?
Thank you for sharing your ideas and for taking the time to answer my questions.
Fort Worth, Texas, USA
The floor staff is roughly 144-144cm, which is about 1.5 yards. It’s a pretty simple project if you’re a confident sewer , just apply the ribbons and then quilt and bind the edges. Alternatively, I know others have used tape or marker on a shower curtain to create their’s. Hope that helps!
I’m headed to my sewing room to make one of these! No more masking tape on the carpet for my floor staff games! I will be using one or both of these games in my next classes! Thanks, you have such great ideas!
I would love to get one of those spinners! I have done this game so many times, but I have never had good spinners.
Just enter your details in the box above Erin and it’ll be sent straight over to you.
I love the Grand Staff Twister Idea. I have a grand staff that I created. I used flannel backed vinyl table cloth material that can be purchased in big amounts from a sewing store. I drew my staff on the vinyl with permanent marker. It’s lasted for several years and did not cost much to make.
Awesome! Whatever way is the easiest – doesn’t need to be “fancy”!
Nice one but I need more explanation on the grand twister..
Would love to get your twister spinner template you mentioned above.
You should be able to download above – it’s fixed now thanks Melissa 🙂
Could I please get a copy of the spinner too please.
Just enter your details in the box above Julie and you’ll get it. 🙂
I use my floor grand staff to play games teaching intervals and we also toss circle bean bags on to identify notes, etc. Another thing I do with it is to have my students race from one end to the other by identifying “stepping or skipping” flashcards.
In the summer I draw a grand staff outside with sidewalk chalk on my driveway and we play “dodge ball” with a wet sponge. The students are the “notes”. Space notes must stay in their space and line notes on their lines but can move to try and dodge the sponge. The student who is able to hit a “note” must name it correctly before the other student is declared “out”.
Sounds like fun Tami, wish we had the weather for that here. 🙂
I have a full staff floor and a keyboard floor sheets I’ve made. I have used them in different ways. I only have private lessons. I get them to to move and stand on different note spots or keys with different feet. I’ve also done intervals that way. The favorite game that everyone loves and asks to play over and is bean bag toss. They spin and the letter that it lands on they have to throw the bean bag on that key or note. They get 3 tries. If get the same note and land in the right spot it knocks their bag off. The goal is to get all your bags on 1st.
Fun ideas Karen!
I’m already a subscriber, can I still get the Twister Game?
Yes just enter your details again. No such thing as subscribing twice. 😉
I have been wanting to make a giant grand staff for my school music classroom and for my private piano students. Thank you for all the great ideas. Thank you for the Grand Staff Twister spinner! I plan to make everything this summer and be ready for school in August.
Great! Hope you have fun putting it together! 🙂