Games and Routines for Group Practice

Are you struggling to practice every day? Do you feel like emotional challenges of doubt or frustration are getting in the way of a productive session?

If so, consider forming an online practice group. Meeting on a regular basis can accelerate your progress and make the journey more fun. In this guide, I’m going to give you ideas to structure an online practice session. There are two main ways to do this:

  • Independent sessions
  • Interactive sessions

I’ll go into more detail below. Treat this as a set of suggestions—students often come up with unique ways of practicing together. Be open to possibilities and use this outline as a jumping-off point.

Independent Sessions

These sessions are simple: get together and practice independently. Here’s a general outline:

Say hello – ⏱️ 5m

Unmute or use the chat to greet everyone. Say your name and what you intend to practice during the session.

Practice – ⏱️ 20-40m

You all might want to use the same practice routine, like Practice Blocks. This is optional. But it might be fun way to improve your practice skills together. Find more routines here: Practice Routines.

Reflection/discussion – ⏱️ 10m

This can be optional. However, it’s nice to at least leave a message in the chat before you go, like “That was fun! Thanks everyone 🤓”

If you do decide to do a discussion, you can talk about what you practiced and any challenges you faced.

Interactive Sessions

In these sessions, you’ll actively be listening and then playing for others. Your group can take turns doing full songs or playing call-and-response games.

Skill Level and Genre

With an open mind, players of different skill levels can practice together. However, if you want to practice with the same group on a regular basis, you might prefer to find people with similar interests and skill levels.

Group Size

The ideal group size is 3-5 people. This allows everyone to be heard. If you have more than that, then be extra mindful of how much time you take when it’s your turn.


It might help if someone volunteers to be a leader. They can keep the meeting moving along using an outline as a guide. The leader can nudge the group on to the next phase of practice, “OK, everyone ready to do a call-and-response game?”


A simple format for interactive sessions is for each person to take a turn playing. Move in a circle around the virtual room following a set order.

The basic form of this is:

  • Icebreaker round
  • Gameplay rounds
  • Reflection round

Below I’ll talk more about different activities and practice games you can play with this format.

Basic Rounds Outline

The time estimates are for groups of four people. Adjust according to group size.

Round Zero: Warmup – ⏱️ 10m

Do this on your own before the meeting starts. That way you can hit the ground running.

Round One: Icebreaker – ⏱️ 10m

In this first round, say hello, introduce yourself. Here are questions to help you:

  • What’s your name?
  • Where do you live?
  • What level musician are you (beginner-intermediate-advanced)?
  • What are you currently learning?
  • What’s most challenging for you on the music journey?

Then play an easy song. This helps you release any nervous energy you have.

Round Two: Play a song you’re learning now – ⏱️ 10m

Each person gets a chance to play a song they’re currently learning. If you haven’t learned the whole thing then play what you know. Talk about the challenges you face with this.

Repeat this step as many times as your group likes, or move on to a different optional round.

Optional Rounds – ⏱️ 10m each

Play a song together

Pick a song you all know. One person at a time will be the leader.

When it’s your turn, unmute yourself and then play the song. Feel free to use a drone, play-along track, or beat. While you are playing, everyone else is muted but they play along with you.

When you’re done, mute yourself and then pass it to the next person. Each person takes a turn being the leader. Repeat this step as many times as your group likes, or move on to a different optional round.

Song chunks

Pick a song you all know. Split it into chunks like quarters (usually two bars). Take turns playing each chunk.

For this game, it flows better if everyone is unmuted. While one person is playing, the others are silent.

Feel free to add simple variations when it’s your turn. Say the variation before you start (e.g., volume: quiet, loud or swells; texture: staccato, plucking, tremolo, slurs; sing it; octave higher or lower; add double stops).

Repeat this step as many times as your group likes, or move on to a different optional round.

Tag Team

Pick a song you all know. Split it into chunks like quarters (usually two bars). Each musician plays a chunk of the song, then the next person plays the next chunk.

If you want, play multiple rounds, letting different people start.

For this game, it flows better if everyone is unmuted. While one person is playing, the others are silent.

Repeat this step as many times as your group likes, or move on to a different optional round.

Tune Trivia

Play a short clip of a tune, and others guess the name. This can help with tune recognition and memory.


Take turns improvising with a D pentatonic scale and a D drone (or pick a different scale and drone). Play this game with all students unmuted.

Structure this game by starting and ending your turn with the D pentatonic scale. When it’s your turn, you play the scale, then improvise for a minute or two, then play the scale again. That second scale signals to the next person that it’s their turn now.

Student Teacher

One student shows part of a tune to the rest of the group using call-and-response. The “teacher” will be pushed to understand the song more deeply, and the “students” will be pushed to pick up a melody by ear.

If you’re new to this, start with simple, familiar melodies. The teacher can share sheet music files, links, and other learning content so the “student” can continue to learn the tune on their own. You can extend this to a longer time block if you want to learn more of the tune.

Reflection – ⏱️ 10m

Do one last reflection round. Don’t skip this step!

Here are questions to help you when it’s your turn:

  • What helped you during this?
  • How might this change your practice?
  • Were you nervous beforehand?
  • Do you still feel nervous now that it’s done?
  • What games or activities would you like to try next time?
  • Want to get together again?

Technical Considerations

Due to the current limitations of video conferencing software, it’s difficult to simultaneously play the same song while hearing each other. Here are some fun work-arounds:

Three steps for better audio:

  • Use an external microphone
  • Wear headphones
  • Configure your audio settings

If you’re doing any sort of back-and-forth practice, I strongly advise that you get a USB mic. Otherwise, the audio can be, well, inaudible. Literally. Certain high frequencies tend to get chopped out so that you can’t hear doodley squat (does anyone besides Kurt Vonnegut use that expression?)

Learn more about this here: Setting Up Audio for Interactive Sessions


Growth Mindset: Remind readers to maintain a growth mindset. Every practice session is progress, even if it doesn’t feel perfect.

Celebrate Small Wins: Emphasize the importance of celebrating small victories and progress along the way.

Stay Positive and Have Fun: Encourage a positive attitude and remind readers that the ultimate goal is to enjoy the process and have fun with their music journey.

Themes and Challenges

Themed Sessions: Pick a theme for each session, such as Irish tunes, waltzes, or holiday music.

Monthly Challenges: Set a challenge for the month, such as learning a specific tune or mastering a particular technique, and track progress together. This works well if you’re meeting with the same group on a regular basis.

Stay in Touch

Practice Logs: Encourage group members to keep a practice log and share their progress. This can include what they practiced, challenges faced, and small wins.

Progress Check-Ins: Have regular check-ins where each member shares their progress and sets goals for the next session.

Support and Encouragement: Create a supportive environment where members can share their successes and struggles, offering encouragement and advice.


That’s it for now. If you end up getting together with other musicians, please let me know how it goes! Click here to email me. I want to know if any of this was useful. And I definitely want to know if you come up with any new ways to do this.

I plan on updating this post with more games and video examples.

Happy practicing!

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Further learning

Easy Song, Skills Strong

Setting Up Audio for Interactive Fiddlehed Lessons

Practice Routines

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