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Music games are defined as the use of music, musical activities, or musical trivia as the structure or content of competitive activities, which should build interpersonal relationships and facilitate discussion, generalizations, and concrete transfers as appropriate.


Hot Potato: A group passes an object around in a circle until the music stops. The "winner" might answer or ask questions, say something about themself, or discuss something treatment focused. Variation: Group taps to the music's beat and, in regular beat, individuals take turns clapping their hands instead of passing an object around (Riley, 2012).

Musical Chairs: Similar to Hot Potato but with the chairs of the circle facing out and with one fewer chairs than players, groups safe to play will walk around the chairs until the music stops. Everyone rushes to sit down! Whoever is left without a seat sits out, or perhaps is i.e., given a question to answer.

Musical Emotions: Fill a red solo cup with the names of many different emotions. Pass the cup around in a circle while playing a song. When the music stops, the student who is holding the cup picks out an emotion and acts it out without speaking or getting up from their seat. After the students guess the emotion, discuss how to recognize this emotion in others and what to do when you see someone expressing this emotion.

Musical Emotions Bingo: A musical adaptation of Bingo that requires participants to interpret emotions of lyrics and identify them on a Bingo card.

Musical Heads Up Seven Up: Participants sing instead of pressing down a thumb.

Musical Telephone: This adaptation of the popular game Telephone encourages listening skills, social interactions, as well as focus of attentionSongs should be the group's preferred music.

Music Bingo: Create Bingo sheets that use songs instead of numbers and letters!

Music Jeopardy: Jeopardy is a classic trivia game show. You can use this to structure your own music therapy sessions or music trivia games!

Music Poker: Adapt anything to use music! 

Music Scattergories: Scattegories is a copyrighted game; this is a creative adaptation that challenges players to focus on music and musical topics.

Music Trivia: Music Trivia challenges teams to answer trivia questions on music and pop-culture.

Name-That-Tune!: Teams earn points for stating the names of songs, the groups or artists, or sharing interesting, appropriate, and relevant extra-musical facts.

Pictionary: Prepare cue cards with song titles written on them for individuals to draw pictures of while their teams attempt to guess the song.

Pictograms: Challenge memory with pictogram music references, create calligrams, or apply pictogram reminder cues.

Rhythm Discrimination: Teams compete to complete aural discrimination tasks of rhythms within songs or to play notated rhythms (Cevasco, Kennedy, & Generally, 2005).

Question Ball: Similar to Hot Potato, but whoever holds the ball when the music stops answers a question written on the ball (Strutzel, 2010).  



Cevasco, A. M., Kennedy, R., & Generally, N. R. (2005). Comparison of movement-to-music, rhythmic activities, and competitive games on depression, stress, anxiety, and anger of females in substance abuse rehabilitation. Journal of Music Therapy, 42(1), 64-80.

Riley, James E. (August 20, 2012). Hot Potato (just got hotter). [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

Strutzel, Michelle. (June 8, 2010). Beach ball game. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

Further ReadingEdit

Strutzel, Michelle. (May 17, 2011). Poker game for older adults. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

Strutzel, Michelle. (June 10, 2010). Music Jeopardy. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://

Strutzel, Michelle. (May 3, 2010). Draw me a song. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://


James E. Riley, MT-BC

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