A Musician’s Guide to Alternative Uses for Polyhedral Dice

It's not a violin!

Wondering how polyhedral dice can make you a better musician?

Think I’m crazy for suggesting that thought?

I might be crazy… but I might be right. This is a post for all the music geeks out there, or parents of budding music geeks! Your dice can come in handy for practicing! Here’s how!

d4

d4The d4 is useful for practicing scales. If you hate practicing scales as much as the next musician, why not try this: Once you’ve determined the key you need to practice, toss the d4. The result is the number of octaves you will play. (This can get extra fun when it reaches the upper limits of your instrument’s range!)

d6

d6The d6 is the most readily-available die in your average, non-gamer household.

Here’s how I used to use the d6:

Pencil in numbers from 1-6 next to all the lines of your etude or piece.

Or, number the measures individually if it’s a particularly nasty section.

Toss one d6 to determine which measure you practice.

Toss another to determine how many times you have to play it right before you can move on.

d8

d8The d8 is perfect for learning scale degrees and practicing sight-singing.

Your first step is to grab a piece of staff paper and write out the scale you’re going to sight-sing in, numbering your scale degrees:

  1. do
  2. re
  3. mi
  4. fa
  5. so
  6. la
  7. ti
  8. do (upper)

Now, throw your d8 several times, writing down the resulting notes on the paper. You can start on do if you want. Once you’ve gotten a line of notes, sing it! Add rhythms or alternate octaves if you want to add a challenge.

d10

d10The d10 would work well for similar purposes as the d6. Or you can use it to determine how many minutes you will dedicate to a certain passage or exercise.

Somehow, practicing stuff you don’t want to practice is less painful when the dice gods are in charge.

d12

d12The d12 is Schoenberg‘s dream die. Music majors, rejoice! Now the dice gods can determine your tone row for you.

The d12 is also excellent for all you wind players who have to do scale competencies in order to pass band. Pair it with the d4 for maximum torture… I mean, practice value.

  1. C
  2. C#/Db
  3. D
  4. D#/Eb
  5. E
  6. F
  7. F#/Gb
  8. G
  9. G#/Ab
  10. A
  11. A#/Bb
  12. B

Roll for your key!

d20

d20

…roll for initiative! Once you’re done beating the pulp out of some Brahms or

massacring some Coltrane, use the dice for what they’re meant for, guys and girls!

Get out there and game.

About e

Since 2008, E. Foley of Geek’s Dream Girl has been helping geeks from around the world find love. She writes amazing online dating profiles for her fellow geeks and guides them through the perilous waters of the dating scene and out the other side. She's totally proud to report that she's even caused a couple geek weddings! She lives in Maryland with DaveTheGame, her adorable cats, Mr. Peanut & Don Juan, and Titania, Queen of the Cocker Spaniels. (Email e, or follow @geeksdreamgirl on Twitter.)

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