Is it time to play Kaboom in your piano studio?

Need a versatile, inexpensive, DIY studio game? Get on the stick and go Kaboom!

Disclaimer: The game “Kaboom” is NOT my original idea. I regularly scour Pinterest (follow me here) to find fresh games to use in my studio and found this one quite some time ago.

Here’s a link to the post I found that inspired me to try it in the piano studio. The blog is written by Jillian Starr, a second grade school teacher who obviously knows how to create fun and learning for her students.

Heed her warning: be picky about what popsicle sticks you purchase. Jillian recommends these from Amazon. I purchased some from Hobby Lobby and they are fine, too. You want to avoid rough, skinny sticks that may have splinters!

Another tip: color code the tip of the sticks to help you separate topics. This also lets students know which end of the stick needs to be placed in the cup. I learned this from another blog.

What you’ll need to play Kaboom

  1. Large, smooth popsicle sticks.
  2. Sharpie markers in assorted colors.
  3. A cup for the sticks (I decorated old Juice Plus bottles with duct tape and fun paper.)
  4. Students ready to play.

How to play Kaboom

  1. Students select a stick.
  2. If they define or play the term correctly they keep the stick.
  3. If they define or play it incorrectly, it goes back in the cup.
  4. If they choose a Kaboom stick they must put all the sticks they’ve collected back in the cup.
  5. Set a timer for how long you want to play the game.
  6. Game ends when the timer goes off.
  7. The winner is the one with the most sticks at the end of the game.

How to play Kaboom in your piano studio


  1. Choose a music element and think of terms or concepts associated with it.
  2. Write the terms on the sticks and color code tips as you please to help you keep them organized according to topic.
  3. Write “KABOOM” on at least one stick or as many as you please.

Then play one of these variations or make up your own. The options are limitless.

Write Pitch Names (A-G) on sticks and students must…

Find and play all the keys with that name on the piano.

Name the letter a skip above that pitch.

Name the letter a skip below that pitch.

Play a chord (quality of your choice) on the piano.

Spell a chord (quality of your choice) on the piano.

Play a scale (mode of your choice) beginning on that pitch.

Spell/notate a scale (mode of your choice) beginning on that pitch.

Write Pitch Names with accidentals (A-G) on sticks and students must…

Same as above.

Write Composer names on sticks and students must…

Name a fact about a composer from Quizlet flashcards.

Name a fact about a composer from My First Classical App.

Write names of Style Periods on sticks and students must…

State the correct dates of the period.

Name at least one composer from the style period.

Write root, 3rd and 5th of chords (not necessarily in that order) on sticks and students must…

Identify the root of the chord and play on piano.

Name/write the chord symbol.

Play the chord in root, 1st or second inversion.

Change the quality of the chord from major or minor or your choice by adding accidentals to pitches while spelling it.

Write pitches C D E F G A B on sticks and continue with D E F G A B C on another and do so with all pitch names and students must…

Spell the scale with correct accidentals to make it a major scale.

Spell the scale with correct accidentals to make it minor scale.

Spell the scale with correct accidentals to make it the mode of your choice.

Write Intervals 1-8 on lines and spaces and students must…

Name the interval.

Listen and decide if you played the correct interval.

Sing the interval.

Play the interval.

Draw the interval.

Write Note Values on sticks and students must…

Identify how long it lasts in 4/4 time.

Identify how long it lasts in 6/8 time.

Write Time Signatures on sticks and students must…

Notate two measures with different note values in that time signature.

Conduct that time signature.

Explain what the time signature means.

Use sticks to determine Order of Performers or anything else you like.

Student with smallest interval begins.

Student with smallest note value begins.

Student with the key that has the least amount of accidentals begins.

Use sticks to generate an Off-Bench time assignments.

Take out the Kaboom stick and assign students to choose one Alphabet letter stick and then students must draw a treble clef, bass clef or grand staff on staff paper and…

Notate all the locations of where that pitch is found on the grand staff.

Notate the major scale or all the modes that begin with that pitch.

Notate the major chord or all the chords that start with that pitch as root.

Assign students to choose an Interval stick and then students must draw a treble clef, bass clef or grand staff on staff paper and…

Notate (in quarter notes) the interval and label it Major, Minor or Perfect and make sure note stems are correct.

Choose an Interval stick and then students must study their current repertoire and count how many times that interval occurs.

Use sticks to generate a creative exercise on the bench

Ask students to choose Alphabet sticks until they draw the Kaboom stick. Encourage them to design a melody around those pitches.

Ask students to choose 4 Alphabet sticks. Encourage them to design a chord progression around those pitches.

Ask students to choose one Alphabet stick and then Interval sticks until they draw the Kaboom stick. Play the melody!

I could keep going but I’ll stop for now. 🙂

Please share YOUR variation of Kaboom below!

-Leila

Morphing a DIY game energizes my teaching and keeps students coming back for more.

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Leila Viss

Creative Pianist, Piano Teacher, Organist, Blogger and Author of The iPad Piano Studio

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