Group Lesson Activities: Grand Staff Twister & Grand Staff Beanbag Toss

This article was originally written in April 2016 and was updated in April 2019.

Group classes are a great opportunity to make piano social, and have fun together. I hold a group workshop about 3 weeks before every concert to make sure everyone is ready to perform.

Group Lesson Activities Grand Staff Twister & Grand Staff Beanbag Toss

ideas for using a floor staff in group lessons and how to make a floor staff

We start these classes by doing a trial run of the concert. We talk about what makes a good performer, and also what makes a good audience member. I want my students to not only be comfortable performing for others, but to also be good listeners, and respectful of each others’ performances.

Floor staff twister for music students

After the concert run-through, we have a short juice break, and then we get to play some games.

How to Make a Floor Staff

I have been meaning to put together a floor grand staff for a while now, and decided this group class would finally give me the push to get it done!

Floor grand staff

I made the floor staff from cotton calico with black ribbon applique lines and clefs. Then I padded it with some quilting. The padding is not strictly necessary but it does make it more comfy when we’re climbing around on top of it.

The space between the lines is 11cm (which just happens to be a perfect fit for these foam circles which I get from a discount store called Mr Price).

grand staff with foam disks

There’s a small line to represent middle C and I didn’t put extra space between the two clefs so it’s similar to the version of the grand staff used in many younger beginner books where middle C is equidistant from the treble clef and bass clef.

This is a pretty simple project if you’re a reasonably confident sewer. If you’re not though, don’t let that hold you back! I’ve seen DIY floor staffs created using tape or permanent marker on plain sheets or table cloths. It doesn’t need to be fancy. 😉

Here’s an example from a Vibrant Music Teaching member, Laura, who used a 5×7 rug and 1/2 inch electrical tape.

floor staff using electrical tape

Another member, Austin, asked a friend to crochet a smaller floor staff to suit his space.

crochet floor staff

And Brenda is a sewer like me so she created this beautiful floor staff out of an old tablecloth and black ribbons. Romeo the cat definitely gives it the seal of approval.

fabric floor staff

What to do with your floor staff

I plan on using the floor staff for lots and lots of games in private as well as group lessons, but below are a few of my favourites.

If you’re looking for a fully planned out group workshop for your piano students, you’re in luck! In this mega post I detail everything that goes into planning one of my piano party workshops.

Grand Staff Twister

We played Grand Staff Twister with four players, two in the treble clef and two in the bass. I think four is a nice number, but you could probably squeeze in six depending on the size of your staff.

I was surprised by how easily even my weak note readers were able to find the right note in grand staff twister! I really think this will be a fantastic tool for struggling students to see the staff in a new way.

Grand staff twister

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If you need help putting together the spinner, follow the instructions for the scale spinner here. If you have pre-made spinners you can just cut off the part of the pdf with the arrow, and throw it away.

Grand Staff Beanbag Toss

For this game players need to be in two teams. The teams can be as big or small as you like.

  • Take turns to throw a beanbag, trying to get it inside the grand staff.
  • The thrower attempts to name the note it landed on, if they’re right their team gets 2 points.
  • If the thrower can’t name the note but their team can, the team gets 1 point.
  • That’s it! The winner is the team with the most points when the time is up (you decide how long you want the game to be).

grand staff beanbag toss

grand staff beanbag toss

Grand Staff Races

The floor staff is also great for working with intervals.

  • Place a small toy for each player at the bottom of the staff.
  • Players roll the die and move up that interval. E.g. if they roll a 5 they move up a 5th.
  • The winner is the first to reach the top line F.

I like to use large foam dice like these ones for this game so that they’re less likely to roll under the furniture when the game gets “too playful”!

grand staff interval race game

Are you looking for more games for group classes? There are so many more fantastic games that are great for groups and solo lessons inside the Vibrant Music Teaching library.

Join the community today and see what Vibrant Music Teaching could do for you.

Do you have a floor staff?

What are your favourite games to play with it? Do you use it more in one-on-one or group lessons?

27 thoughts on “Group Lesson Activities: Grand Staff Twister & Grand Staff Beanbag Toss”

  1. I love the Twister game. Do you enlarge it and put it on fabric? If so, could you explain a bit…how large, what type of fabric, how you do the transfer, etc? THANKS!

    • The twister game is on the grand staff pictured above Mary. The spinner has “right hand A” for example instead of “right hand red”. The kids then put their right hand on whatever ‘A’ is closest to them. Have I answered your question?

  2. Our floor staves are almost identical. Mine was made the same way (by my lovely grandmother years ago). It has stood up to a lot of use. I think one of my favourite ways to use it is demonstrating the difference between space and line notes to littlies. They really understand when they stand in the space or on the line. I also have a floor keyboard made the same way that is EXCELLENT for hopscotching across letters or groups of black keys.

    • I have a keyboard version too. I’m really looking forward to using the floor staff to introduce littles to the staff, while they’re still in a pre-reading stage. I think it’s going to be awesome for ear training and relating up-down on the piano to right-left on the piano, a disconnect the littlest students often have to overcome.

  3. Hi Nicola, Thank you for sharing your “proven” music teaching games with us.
    I have wanted to make a giant floor Grand Staff.
    You have inspired me.
    BIG ?’s What size is your floor Grand Staff?
    Is it washable?
    Do yo have any tips that will make this project easier to make?
    Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

    • Thanks for the beautiful color wheel for Twister!

      I have chosen to mark the floor with blue painters tape. I even fashion a clef sign with it. The tape goes on in 5 minutes and comes up in 5 minutes. I use the tiles on the floor for the spacing of the staff and make it as long as I need for the number of children. There is no residue from the blue tape and the cost is minimal when purchased in bulk.

      Besides marking the floor, you could also use a very large rubber backed rug, painter’s tarp, heavy vinyl upholstery fabric, or whatever you choose that won’t slip or move under children’s feet.

      You have choices for the staff lines. Lines can be made of grosgrain ribbon that is affixed with iron on tape or fabric glue, sewn, or just paint the staff with fabric paints. The main thing is for the spacing to be proportional to the width of your lines. You’ll be able to see if the staff looks disproportional.

      For the monetary investment and time, I think I’ll stick with the tape since it’s cheaper, easy to move, and easy to store.

  4. What are the dimensions of your floor Grand Staff?

    Do yo have any tips that will make this project easier?

    Thank you for sharing your ideas and for taking the time to answer my questions.

    Fort Worth, Texas, USA

    • The floor staff is roughly 144-144cm, which is about 1.5 yards. It’s a pretty simple project if you’re a confident sewer , just apply the ribbons and then quilt and bind the edges. Alternatively, I know others have used tape or marker on a shower curtain to create their’s. Hope that helps!

  5. I’m headed to my sewing room to make one of these! No more masking tape on the carpet for my floor staff games! I will be using one or both of these games in my next classes! Thanks, you have such great ideas!

  6. I love the Grand Staff Twister Idea. I have a grand staff that I created. I used flannel backed vinyl table cloth material that can be purchased in big amounts from a sewing store. I drew my staff on the vinyl with permanent marker. It’s lasted for several years and did not cost much to make.

  7. I use my floor grand staff to play games teaching intervals and we also toss circle bean bags on to identify notes, etc. Another thing I do with it is to have my students race from one end to the other by identifying “stepping or skipping” flashcards.

    In the summer I draw a grand staff outside with sidewalk chalk on my driveway and we play “dodge ball” with a wet sponge. The students are the “notes”. Space notes must stay in their space and line notes on their lines but can move to try and dodge the sponge. The student who is able to hit a “note” must name it correctly before the other student is declared “out”.

  8. I have a full staff floor and a keyboard floor sheets I’ve made. I have used them in different ways. I only have private lessons. I get them to to move and stand on different note spots or keys with different feet. I’ve also done intervals that way. The favorite game that everyone loves and asks to play over and is bean bag toss. They spin and the letter that it lands on they have to throw the bean bag on that key or note. They get 3 tries. If get the same note and land in the right spot it knocks their bag off. The goal is to get all your bags on 1st.

  9. Hi, Nicola!
    I have been wanting to make a giant grand staff for my school music classroom and for my private piano students. Thank you for all the great ideas. Thank you for the Grand Staff Twister spinner! I plan to make everything this summer and be ready for school in August.


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