This activity features 9 songs to play with your Specdrums Ring(s). You will play the songs by reading colorful music notes. Each song has its own special keyboard tailored with specific colors to guide you along in your playing.

Learning Objectives


MU:Pr4.2.5b – When analyzing selected music, read and perform using standard notation.

MU:Pr4.2.7c – Identify how cultural and historical context inform performances and result in different music interpretations.

MU:Pr5.1.2b – Rehearse, identify and apply strategies to address interpretive, performance, and technical challenges of music.



MU:Re7.1.4a -Demonstrate and explain how selected music connects to and is influenced by specific interests, experiences, purposes, or contexts.


Have you ever sang “Happy Birthday” to someone? You could probably sing it very easily, but reading and playing the notes of this song may be a completely different experience.

In this activity, you will learn how to read and play songs using colorful music notes and your Specdrums Ring(s). Each song contains two pages: the sheet music (the title page with the music notes) and a customized keyboard page using only the colors you need to play for that song. You will play your Specdrums Ring(s) on the keyboard.

Here is a sample of what you will see for each song you play:

Sheet Music


If you see diagonal black lines on your keyboard, don’t play that note. Any key that is filled in with a solid color on your keyboard will be played.

Some songs in this activity can be played directly from the app’s default bubbles (see picture below).

Here in the app, the default color notes are C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C and the default chords are C Major, F Major, A Minor, and G major. These notes and chords are automatically set up every time you open the app. The songs you can play directly from the app’s default bubbles are Old Macdonald, When The Saints Go Marching In, and Song of the Volga Boatmen.

The other remaining songs in this activity will require you to modify or change some of the note bubbles. But why?

Every song has a formula of notes that builds a melody. Think of a melody as a tune you can sing. If you play the wrong notes, the melody won’t be correct. We need to reprogram these notes to build the correct melody. For example, you might need to change the red “C” bubble to a red “C#” bubble.

Let’s use the above example, “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.”  For this song, we need to program three new notes: an F#, a G#, and a high D. How do we program these notes? Look at your keyboard. Every key is labeled with a note name. Find the notes on your keyboard that are colored in but not automatically found in the app’s default note bubbles. What color is that note on the keyboard? Find that color in the app, and change it to a new note by using your finger to drag the bubble.

Here is a full tutorial for “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” from ring connection to song completion:

If you’re new to reading musical notation, start with the Beginner songs. If you need extra guidance, consult the Note and Symbol Guide. Once you’re comfortable playing the Beginner songs, move to the Intermediate songs. Perhaps you will be able to notice particular symbols and patterns of notes as you move along.

Keep challenging yourself as you move from Intermediate to Advanced songs. If you’re feeling super ambitious, maybe you’re ready to start a band! Maybe?

Required Materials

  1. The Specdrums Music app downloaded onto an iOS or Android device
  2. At least one Specdrums Ring – Note: in a classroom, your students can work in groups or can take turns playing these individually
  3. Songs with their respective keyboards (see PDF attachments below)

Beginner Songs: Song of the Volga BoatmenOld MacdonaldHappy Birthday

Intermediate Songs: SakuraAll Through The NightPeanut Butter

Advanced Songs: When The Saints Go Marching InTake Me Out To the Ball GameCielito Lindo


Begin by connecting your rings(s) to the Specdrums Music app. The app should automatically populate with the default note bubbles. If it does not, pinch your fingers inward on the screen. To get rid of your note bubbles, pinch your fingers outward on the screen. Follow the remaining instructions below per your device.

For iOS users:

Load songs automatically by scanning the QR code on the top right hand corner of the sheet music. Songs without QR codes can use the default bubbles in the main page of the app.

For Android users:

You will not be able to scan the QR code, but you can re-program the notes of some songs using the guidelines for note bubble changes as directed in the Introduction. Remember, if you do not see a QR code on the sheet music, the songs can played using the default setting of note bubbles in the app homepage.

These quick tutorials below will help you figure out which notes you need to change and how you can change them in the app:

All Through The Night

Peanut Butter

Happy Birthday:

Take Me Out to the Ballgame


Cielito Lindo

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