Tic-tac-toe, or naughts and crosses, is a quick and fun game of logic that can be played almost anywhere, as long as you have a pen and some paper.

Did you know that it may in fact be the oldest game in the world, having been played in the Roman Empire over 2100 years ago?

In this adaptation, we use the tic-tac-toe concept to help make the student’s practice more engaging and fun.

What you need:

  • a large tic-tac-toe grid, draw up a large hashtag (#) on a big piece of paper
  • tokens – 4 in each of 2 colours or shapes, you can use buttons or circles and squares cut out of coloured paper
  • 2 players – one music student and one parent (or as per variations below)
  • your music instrument
  • the piece of music you are working on

cartoon chocolate bar, hamburger, milkshake depicts processed food. cartoon stereo, CDs and the Wiggles depicts processed music

 How to play:

  • allocate the tokens so that each player has one set
  • identify the piece of music, bar, passage or exercise that your teacher wants you to practise most
  • player one (the music student) begins by playing through the identified practice once, correctly and beautifully
  • upon completion of the correct and beautiful repetition, player one gets to place one of their tokens on the board
  • player two then places their token on the board
  • player one completes another correct and beautiful repetition and gets to place another token on the board
  • each time player one places a token, player two then has their turn until the game is complete



  1. Player one has to complete another repetition before Player two can place their token (so you double the practice!)
  2. Both players are music students and each gets to place a token only once they have completed a repetition correctly (and beautifully)
  3. Mark the board out on the floor using rope, tape, foam mats or hoola hoops and Player one completes each repetition standing in the spot they want to place their next token, moving around the room as they complete their practice

Tic-Tac-Toe, Gimme a High, Gimme a Low. Gimme a Three in a Row!

Traditionally, the winner of this game is the first player to achieve a row of 3 of their tokens on the board – horizontally, vertically or diagonally. In this version of course, the winner is the music student who completes their practice, but as an added bonus it’s fun to see who can get their tokens to line up for a win on the board.



Remember, a short effective practice is always better than a long drawn out one.
To that end, it might be best to play this game over a few days, or a week of practices depending on the age of the student and where they are on their musical journey. Alternatively, you could play a new Tic-Tac-Toe Musical Practice game each day for a week and keep a tally of who the overall winner is!