Here’s a game for two players that you can use to improve your intervallic awareness, develop your melodic reflexes on clarinet or piano or just as a fun way to get into the Christmas mood.
You can play it in different ways. It doesn’t matter if you sing it or play it on your instrument(s). If you’re on your own, you can play it by yourself and you have my commiseration. Or you can print out more cards and use it in class. Clicking on the photo brings it up on a new page so you can just hit print (ctrl + P).
You will need the two cue cards below, a dice, and a starting note. You can get a starting note from your surroundings or pick one at random by singing the first note that comes out.
(Anyone who doesn’t know what the numbers mean, check out the MOVES notation page. It’s really easy: the numbers are semitones; and plus or minus mean up or down. The other signs denote note-lengths.)
Then one of you takes the first card:
And the other takes the second card (easy so far!)
The extracts are classified by linksum. That is, the difference between the first and last note of the extract (= the sum of all the moves in the chain “link“).
So one player has all the ascending linksums and the other has all the descending ones. It doesn’t matter, you can change round for the next session. Throw the dice to decide which excerpt to play. Play it. Then it’s your partner’s turn. And so on.
You will notice that all these extracts from Christmas carols begin with =0. That means that your starting note is the last note played by your partner. Since the excerpt she plays was dictated by the throw of the dice, your starting note is also your own last note plus or minus the number shown on the dice, depending on who has which card.
So great. The longer you play this, the more surprising transpositions you will find yourself playing in. The important thing is not to pay attention to which key you are in. Just play your fragment of Christmas mood starting from the note you are handed.
If you want to up the stakes, you can make your partner knock back a glass of punch each time she messes up.
Remember, the goal of MOVES practice is to play like singing in the shower. For this, the tune itself is what captains your instrument . Melody rules, OK!
And bring out the punch!