Keyboard Races to Teach Accidentals, Semitones and Tones

This is one of the trickiest topics in Thinking Theory Book One. However, accidentals, tones and semitones are some of the sticking points that just need to be got over before piano students can move forward.

Accidentals game for piano students - learn about sharps and flats the fun way

There’s tons of review in the Thinking Theory books for these concepts. But what about that first introduction? How can we teach accidentals without puzzled looks or blank faces? (Especially when it comes to those white key sharps and flats.)

Accidental Ambles Game

For this game all you need are two counters (game tokens, small toys, or erasers) and a way to randomise accidentals. I’m going to use the Decide Now! app, but you could just as easily use cards or a special die if you have one.

How to Play

  • Place one token an octave from the bottom of the piano on low A.
  • Place the other token an octave from the top of the piano on high C.
  • Take turns to draw a flat, sharp or natural. A flat moves you one key to the left, a sharp one key to the right, and a natural means you go to the nearest white key (or stay put if on a white key already).
  • The winner is the first to reach the end of the piano (either end) or the closest to an end when the time is up.

Kangaroo playing keyboard game

Flipped Accidentals, Tones & Semitones

This week’s Thinking Theory flipped video covers not only accidentals, but also tones and semitones (half steps and whole steps) in the clearest and most concise way possible.

UK/International Version

USA Version

The Thinking Theory books are also available in UK and USA editions. So no matter if you say half step or semitone, I have a book to suit you! Take a look at the workbooks now and see if they would be a good fit for your studio.

More Flipped Thinking Theory

If you liked the approach of this video, you might also like these others:

How do you teach accidentals, tones and semitones?

Do you have a favourite game or activity to teach this concept? I’d love to hear about it in the comments or in the Vibrant Music Studio Teachers community on Facebook.


2 thoughts on “Keyboard Races to Teach Accidentals, Semitones and Tones”

  1. You may wish to correct your video at the 2:00 minute on the g and g flat section , I believe if you look at it you will see that when setting your markers on the keys you marked a g sharp instead! Thank you for your work.


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