“Sticky” Instrument Challenges

Want beginners to have instant success on instruments? Forget notation and pick up some tape or stickers!

“Sticky” Instrument Challenges are a great way to “gamify” your music program and expose participants to new things without having to learn music theory/notation first. At the start of each day, introduce several Instrument Challenges for participants to choose from (on different instruments). For example, participants have to complete a challenge in order to “unlock” privileges like using the recording studio, or instrument equipment, etc. “Sticky” Instrument Challenges help introduce basic concepts and gives participants success right away in hopes that they “stick” with it.

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How to…

  • Decide how often you’ll introduce the Instrument Challenges challenge. For example,
    • Every day – choose a specific time, etc. 
    • Each week (e.g. every Wednesday – or whatever day you choose) 
  • Decide on the format of the challenge – ie. everyone must complete or make it an optional challenge that helps participants earn extra privileges, etc.  
  • Make it easy for all skill levels to complete the challenges; examples include: 
    • Piano – use “Avery See-Through Removable Color Dots”, Post-it Page Markers (multi-color pack), Multi-colored dry erase markers 
    • Guitar/bass – use masking tape along the top of the neck/fretboard – label the fret number in sequence 
    • Drums – use an easy “play along” track, YouTube clip or take a video of an instructor playing a basic groove.  
  • Create fun challenges that participants must complete before participating in other programs/activities (displayed on a white board). Examples include: 
    • “Chord Buster” – Participants must play through a I-IV-V progression.  
      • Piano – Green dots = C Major chord, Red dots = F Major, Blue dots = G Major
      • Guitar/bass – #1 = Low E string, 8th fret (C); #2 = Low E string, 1st fret (F); #3 = Low E string, 3rd fret (G)
    • “Melody Mystery” – Place a sequence of colored dots or label fretboard that participants must “decode” in order to play a familiar melody.
    • “Octave Obsession” – Place colored dots or label fretboard on various octaves, and discuss the basic concept of what participants are playing.
    • “Scale Trail” – Place colored dots or label fretboard on various scales and discuss key signatures with participants.
    • “Intricate Intervals” – Place colored dots or label fretboard on basic scale intervals for a quick ear training exercise.
    • “Groove Master” – ask participants to recreate a drum groove on a video or recording
    • “Rhythm Xerox” – participants have to repeat a series of rhythms 
  • Optional – Use the same concepts for helping participants on music technology equipment 

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