You’ve probably seen your child playing music games online during their lesson, winning BLAM badges as they pass each level. Or maybe you’ve seen other kids with BLAM badges (stickers) covering their lesson binders….maybe even stuck on their guitar case or even their forehead!
What do those stickers mean?! Here’s a breakdown of our music game stickers:
BLAM = Big Lessons About Music
BLAM Badges =
- The reward every musician gets for passing BLAM game levels
- How we measure a student’s musical growth
- Proof your child’s ears are growing stronger and stronger
- Evidence of your child’s music mind flexing!
Parents want to trust their child’s schooling, trust their teachers, and trust the plan. That goes for music games at your Brooklyn music school as well! I remember how shocking it was when I first sat in on my own daughter’s language arts class and the teacher explained the strategy called “Inventive Spelling”.
In a nutshell, the rationale behind Inventive Spelling is that letting a child decide the spelling of words in the beginning, even if the spelling is “wrong,” encourages them to write a LOT from the start, even if they don’t yet know how to spell “correctly”. (In other words: We don’t tell toddlers not to speak until their language and grammar is perfect. Why prevent them from writing while they’re still learning how to spell?)
Writing a lot and writing early ultimately leads to much stronger spelling skills (and reading skills) down the road. Why? Because kids (and adults) lose confidence when corrected a lot and they are discouraged from writing. They stop wanting to do the one thing, writing, that they need to do to become better writers.
At first, it was really tough for me to accept that I needed to let my daughter misspell when doing her homework.
Experience Builds Confidence…
And confident people are more open and willing to learn and grow. Once my daughter developed confidence in her writing skills, she was ready and willing to learn different—aka, the correct—spelling from her teachers.
To believe in Inventive Spelling I needed to understand the why behind all of my child’s uncorrected ‘misspellings’ in her writing. Once I understood that there was a clear path leading to her ultimately learning the correct spellings—and that this curriculum had been proven to work over and over again—I became a believer. My daughter has gone on to become a voracious reader and writer. In fact, she is now in her third year of college!
We Believe in FUN First
Brooklyn Music Factory has a similar plan with the way we design and play our music games for kids. We have seen that a fun first approach builds confidence and skills. And our Big Lessons About Music (BLAMs) teach the fluency of musicianship.
What does “Fluency of Musicianship” mean?
All of our music games online and in person fall into one of four categories:
These categories are the essential building blocks of rock and pop music. (They are actually the building blocks of all genres of music, but we focus on contemporary music at Brooklyn Music Factory.)
Start Hearing the Notes
Melody music games, like Wait A Second, challenge students to hear the distance between two notes. (Musicians measure distance in sounds.)
When a musician recognizes the distance from a C to an E by ear, she can then apply that information to her instrument and repeat back the melody. Musicians with developed ears can actually hear the notes they see on a page, rather than simply reading the notes.
In music pedagogy, educators call this an “ear before eye” approach. The Suzuki method is another well known ear before eye approach, though that one focuses on Classical music.
“Suzuki students learn to play music before they learn to read it – just as a child will speak their first words long before they learn to read them. Suzuki students generally won’t begin reading music until they’re reading words fairly fluently, usually about 7 or 8 years old.”-Suzuki Method School’s Blog Post
Hear More Than One Note at a Time
If melody is the horizontal part of music, harmony is the vertical one. Our harmony music games, like Major/Minor, challenge students to hear three or more notes at the same time.
Chords support melodies, and chords can move in progressions. So BLAM games played at our Students at our Brooklyn music school start by playing BLAM games that ask them to listen for a single chord quality (is it happy, meaning major, OR is it sad, meaning minor) and graduate to games asking students to hear one chord moving to another and then another. When students hear a chord quality and a harmonic rhythm, they then start to understand why they are learning how to play so many chords (on piano or guitar). They begin to listen more actively and hear MORE when they play music. And it all starts by playing music games!
Inner Ear Versus Outer Ear
Musicians often talk about their inner ear versus their outer ear.
Inner Ear = That melody you keep humming that you can’t get out of your head.. It lives inside your head…Think of your favorite (or most annoying!) ad jingle. “State Farm is There” or “The Simp-sons”
Outer Ear = What we think of when we think of listening. We literally hear an external sound (or harmony or melody) and then, if we hear it often enough (and it makes a big enough impression on us). we process it, remember it and it moves to our inner ear.
Music games (BLAM games!) focus on the repetition and processing, while always trying to maximize the fun factor.
Get Your Groove ON: Rhythm Music Games
In rhythm music games like Groove Puzzler, students get to dive into notes of different lengths and combinations, learning how they form grooves.
We have found that this is the #1 place to start when giving musicians the tools they need to play with others in a band. Groove, groove, groove! It’s both the MOST fun and the MOST important. At least it feels that way in the beginning. Rhythm and groove are like the glue that binds melody and harmony together.
Groove Puzzler is a music game that challenges the player to listen for patterns in rhythm and then put the note values in the correct order, left to right, to recreate that pattern. Kids love this music game, online or in person! And what they don’t realize is that they are actually learning how to read rhythms, in addition to listening to and transcribing them.
The Power of Songwriting
Our final Big Lesson About Music category is songwriting. One of my favorite songwriting music games is Word Beat. Word Beat challenges the player to listen to the words and syllables in the lyrics of a song and place them correctly within a measure of music. By “correctly,” I mean accurately place each syllable where it falls in the rhythm sequence. Take, “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream”. The game asks the player to count in their head and decide if the first “row” lands on beat #1 or beat #2 of the measure of music.
Why is knowing this SO important? For starters, kids get to listen to words and then drag them around the screen, either during in-person music lessons or online music lessons. They LOVE doing that and are addicted to this game!! So just from a focused listening point of view, Word Beat is a hit. In addition, this music game actually teaches the musician to realize how a song’s lyrics influence the overall groove or rhythm of the song.
The kids start to view lyrics differently. Lyrics are more than the story a song tells; they are a key element of the composition!
Tie It All Together With Music Games
Really smart musicians (those with advanced music fluency) use lyrics to help trigger the part they are playing on their instrument. For example, a drummer might know that every time “row” is sung, he is going to play his bass drum with his foot. OR a guitar player might listen for lyrics to recognize when exactly to switch from a G chord to a C chord. Word Beat and other music games for kids teach growing musicians to be more in touch with the story, aka the lyrics of a song, as they apply to the entire arrangement.
Here is great comment from a video for pro drummers on how to learn a song (and make a chart) in just 10 minutes:
“I think most drummers have their own way of “charting” songs? Personally, I do like a lot of what others are saying. I’ll print the lyrics out and make notes where things will need to change, or where a fill starts and stops, pauses, builds up, etc. directly over the word where whatever needs to happen in the song. Having the lyrics also helps me memorize the song a lot faster as well.”-Randy Cooke, Drummer (Drumeo)
Back to BLAM Badges
Big Lessons About Music are so much more than simply games we play to have fun. These music games provide a holistic approach to nurturing the entire musician and encouraging them to lead with their ears and find joy at every one of the 15 levels.
Do BLAM Games get hard for our students? Yes.
Are Big Music Games leveled by age? Yes.
Do some students move more quickly than others thorough levels? Of course!
How long does it take a student to get through all 15 levels? As long it needs to!
Whether your child is taking piano lessons in Brooklyn, learning guitar on her own at home, or studying classical voice in Chicago, playing BLAM games can–and will!–level up their musical mind!
Check out our library of fun and FREE music games on BMFTV! There are BLAM games and fun music activities for all ages–even adults!
Click HERE to learn more about BMFTV and explore tons of free games!
Have fun playing!!