5 Ways to Make Memorising Music Fun

This article about music memorisation games was written by Joanna Shiel. Joanna works as the editorial assistant for Vibrant Music Teaching. Joanna has been teaching piano for over 14 years. She loves exploring the VMT library for piano teaching games for her students and believes that the best learning happens when it’s not a chore. Her dessert of the month is a berry smoothie.

For some students, memorising music can be a real struggle. Those students often approach memorisation with an unsure, uneasy feeling of dread. Is there a way to make the music memorisation process more fun, effective and “sticky”, all at the same time?

Many students dread memorising their music, especially if it isn’t easy for them. Others simply aren’t motivated to memorise anything because they aren’t forced to do so for a recital/exam.

By using games and activities to help your students along the memorisation path, you’ll alleviate a lot of that doom and gloom while helping the music stick around longer with the performers.

Here are 5 ways you can make memorising music fun.

Music Memory Game 1: Memorisation Mission

Who doesn’t love scratching away the metallic flakes from lotto tickets or gift cards? Add some fun to the memorisation process by turning the page into a scratch-off mission.

Available exclusively to members of Vibrant Music Teaching, Memorisation Mission is a great activity for students who have a piece ready but need help memorising it.

music memorisation games

This step-by-step process is designed to last 15 days. If your student’s piece is long, you might want to have them complete the mission for smaller sections at a time (such as “the A section”, a single movement, etc.) 

To assemble this resource:

  1. Print the page from the VMT Library and laminate
  2. Mix 2 parts acrylic paint with 1 part washing up liquid (that’s “dish soap”, for those of you in the US)
  3. Paint over the instruction boxes (be sure to leave the little numbers visible)
  4. Let dry.

Then it’s ready!

Through this fun mission, students will add an incremental, step-by-step process to their memorisation toolkit which they can use again and again.

Music Memory Game 2: Levelling up!

Some students (myself included!) really need a straightforward, methodical approach to memorising music. Enter Levelling Up!

You can’t be there every day to walk your students through the music memorisation process, soup-to-nuts, but this game has been a great remedy for students who look at their score and are stuck with “How do I get started?”

music memorisation games

Create some Levelling Up! sheets of your own based on whatever your students are working on, and then paperclip the sheet to their piece so they can’t avoid it.

Music Memory Game 3: Mount Memory

Do you have it memorised? No, really. Are you sure you have it memorised? If the answer is yes, then Mount Memory should be easy to climb!

This game from the Vibrant Music Teaching Library turns memory tests into a fast-paced game, and is fantastic for spotting memorisation gaps. It’s designed for one person, but can easily be adapted for multiple students by alternating turns.

music memory games

Mount Memory is a wonderful reminder that even though memorisation can be a challenge (like climbing a mountain), it doesn’t have to be terrifying. Once your student reaches the top, it’s a cause for celebration and a chance to take in the musical view from the top.

Music Memory Game 4: The Great Race

When a student’s confidence level just doesn’t match their playing, The Great Race might be just the ticket.

You know the students I’m talking about – you ask if they’re ready for the recital and you either get “Not at all, I’m so nervous!!!” or “Yes, of course!”. These students just do not have a good self-awareness; they can’t really process their own playing.

In this game, it’s a race between the student and their imaginary “opponent”. You can create a card with anything you want to test. For example, here’s what Nicola has on her test card for The Great Race:

  • Choose one section of your piece to test.
  • Roll the dice.
  • Play your chosen section from memory.
  • If you play it correctly, you get the points. If you make a mistake, your “opponent” gets the points.
  • The first one to reach 30 points is the winner.
  • If you win, the section passed!
  • If your opponent wins, that section needs some more practice.

If you play The Great Race and you are under-confident, it will gradually increase your confidence levels. If you do this test and you are over-confident, then your opponent will just win – very, very quickly.

Music Memory Game 5: Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime

A lot of times, when someone finds out that your student plays piano they’ll request an impromptu performance. How frustrating it can be when you don’t have anything to play!

Even when your students aren’t preparing for a recital or exam, it’s important that they flex that memorisation muscle and have several pieces ready to play on-the-fly.

music memorising games

Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime motivates students to memorise a collection of repertoire that they choose, and encourages them to play those pieces in front of a variety of people and places.

If a student masters the challenge, you may wish to reward them with a custom sticker specifically for that achievement. Enter your info below and we’ll send you the printable stickers for free.

scale challenges reward stickers

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What music memorisation games and activities are hits in your studio?

Let’s make this the go-to resource for fun music memorisation resources. 🙂

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