Sean Glithero

| Instructional Objective | Learners & Context | Object of Game | Game Materials |

| Time Required | Rules | Design Process | References |

Instructional Objective

  • The learners will be able to identify the different instruments found in musical ensembles around the world.
  • The learners will be able to identify common musical terminology.

The instrument facts will range from specifics regarding the instruments to famous musicians who played the instruments, past and present. The musical terminology tested in the game is terms used by contemporary musicians and composers. Maestro is the perfect supplement to a class that is studying different instruments, their history, how they work and how they are utilized in music. Maestro is also the perfect challenge for those people who consider themselves music aficionados.

Learners & Context of Use

Maestro is designed for learners 12 years old and up who are interested in or studying music and the instruments involved. The game is self-contained, so that it can be played in almost any setting. The game can be played by 2 - 4 players or groups of players.

The game is well suited for music students in the classroom setting. The players will need instruction on music history and common instruments throughout the world or previous knowledge in order for the game to be challenging. With these prerequisites filled, the game is a great supplement to current and future instruction. Instructors can monitor the game to see where the students weaknesses and strengths are in the subject matter. Instruction and future testing can be molded around these observations.

Object of the Game

The game board resembles an overhead view of an orchestra, with labels for each instrumental section: Strings, Brass, Woodwind, Lutes and Percussion. The player must move through each section by answering questions regarding the instruments in that section. The Maestro Square is the connecting square between sections. After successfully answering a question in a section, the player receives a card representing the completed section. Thus, the game is a race game with the winner being the first person to collect at least one card from each section.

Game Materials


  • Game board
  • 1 Die
  • Game Markers
  • Question Cards (Instrument and Maestro)

For each section of the board, there is a stack of cards with questions regarding the instruments in that section. Also, there are Maestro Cards, which contain questions regarding musical terminology.

Time Required

The game set up is quick and easy, about 5 minutes.

The game can take from 1 hour to 3 hours to play. The game can be carried over a couple of play periods. If one of the players is an expert and doesn't run into any random squares of misfortune, the game could only take a half an hour to play.

The Rules

1. Setup: Separate the question cards into six stacks - do not mix the cards. All players start in the Maestro Square. All players roll the die and the player with the highest number goes first. Then, the order of players moves clockwise.

2. Object: The object of the game is to collect a card from each instrument's section. The player collects a card by entering the section from the Maestro Square and answering the question on the top card. The question on the card is read to the player by any other player. Players can collect more than one card (this is encouraged, since the cards can be used to get out of The Pit, see "The Pit"). If the player answers the question correctly, he or she collects the card and rolls again. If the player answers the question incorrectly, he or she loses a turn and remains in the current square; the instrument card is moved to the bottom of its respective deck. On the players next turn, he or she does not need to answer another question before rolling and moving on. 

3. Movement: Players move around the board by following the arrows that lead in and out of each section. The player rolls the die once and moves the amount on the die. The player must count the Maestro Square as a space when moving between sections. Players can only move forward, not backward (except after collecting each card, see "To Win"). When moving through each section, all blocks must be passed through in the direction of the arrows.

4. Rolling a Six: If a player rolls a six while on the board (not in The Pit), then he or she must answer a Maestro Card question. If the player answers the question correctly, he or she can move six spaces from the current square. If he or she answers the question incorrectly, he or she loses a turn and is sent to The Pit.



5. The Pit: Players are sent to The Pit when they land on the Misfortune Square in each section (i.e. "Torn Skin" in the Percussion section), roll a six and answer a Maestro Card incorrectly or when another player lands on the same square that the person's piece is currently occupying, including the Maestro Square. When a player is sent to The Pit, he or she must move the game piece to the area labeled "The Pit" at the bottom of the game board. To get out of The Pit, a player has three chances to roll a six. If the player rolls a six, he or she moves out to the Maestro Square and must answer a Maestro Card question before rolling again. Also, a player can turn in a previously acquired Instrument Card to get out of The Pit. After turning in the card, the player will be sent to the Maestro Square where he or she will be required to answer a Maestro Card before rolling. If a player gets out of The Pit and answers a Maestro Card incorrectly, he or she loses a turn, but can roll the die and move out of the Maestro Square on his or her next turn.


6. Misfortune Squares: The following symbols are present on certain squares in each section. The player must follow their direction only when his or her piece stops on the symbol's square:

These directions can be found at the bottom of the game board, under the pit.


7. Maestro Square: When a player is sent to or lands on the Maestro Square, he or she must answer a question from a Maestro Card. If the question is answered correctly, the player may roll again and move on. The player does not collect a Maestro Card; Maestro Cards are never collected by the players for any reason. If the player answers the question incorrectly while on the Maestro Square, he or she loses a turn. Maestro cards are returned to the bottom of the stack after they are read.


8. To Win: After a player collects at least one card from each section, he or she must return to the Maestro Square by rolling the correct amount on the die to reach the square directly. If the player rolls over or under the required amount, then he or she must continue playing the game until he or she rolls the exact amount. At this point and only when the player has at least one card from each section, the player can move forward and backward. When the player rolls the exact amount and reaches the Maestro Square, he or she must answer a Maestro Card question correctly to win the game. If the player answers the question incorrectly, he or she loses a turn a must roll the die again on the next turn. Thus, the player must move out of the Maestro Square and roll the exact amount again to return. While outside of the Maestro Square, the player continues his or her turn by answering Instrument Cards correctly and avoiding Misfortune Squares. If time runs out before the game is finished, the player with the most Instrument Cards wins.

Design Process

Early Design: The game basically uses a lot of pre-existing design techniques. Hopefully, this will change a little and the rules and aspects of the game will become more unique during the design process. At this point, I am more concerned with creating a way to get children and young adults interested in learning more about classical music, orchestras and the instruments used there within.

I wanted to use a familiar setting for the game, so chose to make the game board look like the overview of an orchestra. The instruments and terminology that I chose to test the players on are based on common music knowledge, with a few interesting caveats.

Prototype Testing: The first prototype of the game was drawn out on a piece of construction paper. I played the game with my wife and one of my musician friends. Not much changed from the prototype, except the implementation of the "six rule." This was done because with the small size of the sections, a player could move quickly across the board by rolling a few sixes in a row. This would decrease the amount of time a player would spend in each section, thus reducing the amount of knowledge a player would need to succeed in the game.

Another thing that changed as a result of the prototype testing was the subject matter of the questions. In the first edition of the game, the instrument cards tested on a lot of information regarding composers and musicians that worked with that instrument. I noticed that the testers were more annoyed by these questions and told me that they thought that these questions were too hard. Also, they felt that the game should either focus on instruments or composers/musicians. I decided to stick with instruments, since this seemed to provoke more interest in the testers. Also, children seem to be more interested in the instruments than the people who use them. I thought that a spin off of the game could be designed that focuses more on people; the different sections on the board could refer to periods of music, cultures, famous players, etc.


All of the research for this game was done electronically on the Internet. The following are some of the websites that provided the most useful information for this project.

Electronic Resources:



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Last updated October xx 1999