Da Capo

ISM members Hilary Dennis and Sam Gee have created the quirky new music based card game ‘Da Capo’, designed to help students improve some elements of music theory, particularly performance directions and foreign terms. Here is a review from Tim Lissimore, music teacher and senior deputy head at Wilson’s School in South London (last year’s Sunday Times State Secondary school of the year):

“A charming and ingenious game, Da Capo fulfils its promise to be accessible to players regardless of their musical expertise, while also enabling young musicians to boost their knowledge of music theory. The cards themselves are beautifully designed, some even featuring snippets of melody from famous scores. The instructions for the game are very clearly written and its compact form makes it possible to play just about anywhere.

As with all card games, it initially takes a couple of rounds to get the hang of – but the principles (playing the notation cards in order, the winner being the first to discard all their cards) are easy to grasp. For those with little musical knowledge, some of the symbols will be unfamiliar and amusing (who didn’t giggle when they first saw a dotted hemidemisemiquaver?), and the ‘cheat sheets’ – lists showing the correct order of each type of notation card – will be invaluable!

Engaging and unpredictable (the witty ‘Action’ cards can dramatically change the fortunes of a struggling player!), this is a game that could really motivate a young musician taking on music theory, while also challenging seasoned musicians, and providing aimless fun for the dilettante – or even a player with no knowledge of music at all! Highly recommended.”


The game is named after the worst (or best, depending on who’s playing it) action card, ‘Da Capo’, which can force any player to throw their hand away and start again, rekindling that sinking feeling of seeing a ‘Da Capo’ in real life and knowing that, just when you thought you’d got to the end of the piece, you’ve got to play all that music again.

Professional musicians can have great fun with this game, spontaneously re-enacting some of the more obscure musical excerpts, tactically using the ‘modulation’ card to get hold of another player’s hand or cunningly playing the ‘retrograde inversion’ card to shake things up.

For students still refining their music theory knowledge, the game is just as enjoyable; they might discover some terms the have never come across before, but the intuitive nature of the cards means they’ll gain a subliminal knowledge of their meanings without having to do any practice or revision. All the foreign and musical terms are translated on the cards, but by playing they’ll begin to associate them with their in-game functions and understand the meanings when they crop up in their sheet music.

Find out more and order a copy at the special introductory rate of £12.99 go to Sam Gee's website.