Here you will find all supplies you need to create your very own violin themed escape room at home.
An escape room is a game in which one or more players discover clues, solve puzzles, and accomplish tasks in a room. The goal of the game is to solve a specific puzzle in a limited amount of time.
The goal of this specific escape game is to find out who stole Paganini’s Stradivarius violin. The game is designed for adult musicians.
To solve this game you need a combination of logical thinking & music theory knowledge!
There needs to be at least one musician on the team in order to solve all the puzzles.
I played this game with my family and they loved it! I hope you will have as much fun as we did.
How to set up this escape game
One person is the game leader and needs to set up the game. The game leader cannot play the game him/herself, as they will know where all clues got hidden.
The game leader needs to follow the following action steps:
1. Print the PDF game
Make sure to print the document with color. If you don’t have a color printer, have a look at “Alternative Game #4”
2. Create a space where you can play the game.
The best would be a room (or a part of a room) where there is not a lot of stuff, but still a few hiding places.
Remove everything from the space that is not part of the game.
If something can not get removed, for instance, a drawer full of things, you can put a sticker with a red “X” on that drawer. Before the game starts, you tell the players that they can not open any drawers with red “X”es.
3. Put the first letter on the table / desk where the game gets played
The letter on the first page of the PDF game, needs to be the first thing that the participants see if they enter a room.
4. Cut the rest of the PDF file on the cutting lines
5. Cut each of the 3 yellow pieces (Bach, Mendelssohn, Berlioz) in 6 random parts
The player needs to puzzle all parts back together.
6. Hide every clue in the room.
Put up two sheets in plain sight:
- The note reading puzzle (upper half of page 5)
- The “note names exercise” (page 7)
Put the rest of the cutted sheets somewhere in the room – either by hiding them (under a carpet, in a cupboard, under the table, etc.).
7. Put on the music (for instance, on a laptop or computer)
Play the following piece on the VLC player (or any other player that allows to “repeat” a song).
Put the following piece on repeat:
During the complete game, the player of the game should hear this piece on repeat.
8. Open a browser with these two web-pages:
Escape Game Rules
Before the game starts, tell the players the following rules:
- You can not search for clues in areas with the x-marks (where you put the stickers with x-es). If you only touch those areas, it will explode and it means sure death.
If there are any other areas where the participants can not walk or search, please let your participants know at this point.
- You can not open ANY other webpages / programs on the computer. You can only watch the two webpages above.
- You have 90 minutes to solve the game. If you don’t solve it in 90 minutes, you lost.
In case you play alternative version 1, you will have only one webpage.
Alternative DIY Escape Games
Alternative Version #1: Offline alternative to a webpage (more interesting!)
As an alternative to the “secret-system” page, you can also use a 3-digit bike lock to lock any sort of container.
A few container ideas are: a toilet bag, a chest, tool kit, sack).
In the container, you put the “Version with a 3-Digit Lock” sheet music on page 9. Be sure to cut out the instruction text above.
Alternative Version #2: for beginner musicians or non-musicians.
Do you play this escape game without any musicians?
– Instead of the “advanced note reading puzzle” on page 5, use the beginner note reading puzzle on page 8.
– Under the “Note Reading Exercise”, put up an extra sheet with all the notes (second printable on page 8)
– On the pieces, write the following extra information with a pen.
Bach – Chaconne for Solo Violin
Mendelssohn – Violin Concerto for Violin & Orchestra
Berlioz – Harold en Italie – Concerto for Viola & Orchestra
Alternative Version #3: Clue to a hiding place
I hid one of the puzzles behind a picture frame.
As I expected the players wouldn’t been able to find that clue without any help, I added an extra “map” that leads to the clue.
I drew the design of the picture frames on the wall on a sheet of paper. I marked the picture where the clue was hidden with an “X”. Then I threw the sheet of paper under the desk, covering up as “rubbish”.
Alternative Version #4: Drawings by hand (or without a color printer)
The game can get even more mysterious if texts and sheets are written by hands.
Be sure to use the correct colors displayed in the PDF document.
- The note reading puzzle needs to be red
- The “sudoku” puzzle needs to be green
- The “composers” puzzle needs to be yellow
Also, the three “round tokens” (as displayed on page 1) need to be red, green and yellow with the correct numbers displayed on them.
You can also use different colors, as long as you replace the color of each object with that color.
For instance, if you change the color of the “composers” to orange, you will need to change every yellow text into an orange text – and the yellow round token into an orange token.
You can also handwrite the first message (of Paganini) for an extra mysterious effect.
Solving this Escape Room
Please do not read this if you did not solve the escape game yet. This part of my post contains spoilers.
Here are the solutions of all puzzles of the game.
Escape Room Puzzle 1: Sheet Music with Yellow Letters
One of the first puzzles that a player of the game will find are the pieces of sheet music that are hidden around the room. The player needs to puzzle the different pieces of sheet music together.
After the player has completed the sheet music puzzle, he will see a few pieces of sheet music with numbers:
7. Bach – Chaconne
2. Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
5. Harold en Italie – Berlioz
If you are an higher level violin player, this puzzle is easy to solve. Simply listen to the music in the background, and you will realize that Bach – Chaconne is being played. The answer to this puzzle is: 7: Bach – Chaconne.
Non-musician players can notice that on the pieces of sheet music that say “Mendelssohn Violin Concerto” and “Harold en Italie”, you will see the sheet music of an entire orchestra. Not only the violin part is being shown, but also the parts of many other instruments. On the Bach – Chaconne piece, you will only see one instrument represented: solo violin. The player will notice that there is only one violin in the background, which means the answer is: 7. Bach – Chaconne.
Clues you can give for the players of this puzzle:
- Music is very important in this game.
- The background music is an important part of the solution
- How many instruments do you hear in the background music?
Escape Room Puzzle 2: Red Mathematics with Notes Puzzle
Musicians will know the note lengths of each notes.
A eight notes plus a whole note is 4,5 in total.
A half note (note length 2) minus a quarter rest equals one.
Which means that the quarter rest has a note length of 1.
With musical knowledge about the length of each note, you will be able to solve the last puzzle:
2 -1,5 + 4 + 1 + 0,5 -1 = 5
Alternative Version #1: For Non-Musicians
Non-musicians can solve the alternative version of this puzzle.
First have a look at the first and third line.
X-Y = -3,5
X = 4 and Y = 0,5.
Now, have a look at the second and fourth line:
A-B = B
Here you can find out that A= 2B
A+B = 3
If A=2B, you will know that 2B+B=3=3B
Which means: B = 3/3 = 1
That means that A is 3-1=2
With this information you can solve the last formula:
2-0,5+4+0,5-1 = 5
The solution to the second escape room puzzle is 5.
Clues you can give for the players of this puzzle:
- For musicians: What is the note length of a eight note?
Escape Room Puzzle 3: Musical Sudoku
The second Escape Room puzzle is a musical sudoku. For this puzzle you will need three components:
- The musical sudoku puzzle
- The sudoku template, in which only one green box is colored.
- The red mathematics with notes puzzle
The player needs to solve the sudoku. After solving the sudoku, you will notice that the green box will be a quarter note. From the red mathematics puzzle with notes, you will know that the length of the quarter note is 1. The solution of this game is: 1.
Escape Room Puzzle 4: The Secret System
To solve this puzzle, you need to solve the previous 3 puzzles first.
After that, you need to find the 3 round “chips” which are colored 1 (red), 2 (green) and 3 (yellow).
The chips depict in which order to enter the code to the secret system.
The solution to the red puzzle (1) is 5.
The solution to the green puzzle (2) is 1
The solution to the yellow puzzle (3) is 7
In total, the solution is 517. Enter this number into the secret system.
Escape Room Puzzle 5: The Secret Message
Congratulations! You made it to the last puzzle of the game.
After entering the number in the secret system, you will see a decoded message with notes. This is a cryptogram. To solve it, you will need the following document(s):
- Exercise 1: Note Names
- Sheet music of puzzle #1 (yellow)
- Non musicians also need the note reading chart, that you can find under “Alternative Version #1: Beginner /Non-Musician Version)
The first step is to fill out Exercise 1: Note Names.
You will see that the last note names are: G, F, E, D, C, B, A. There are 26 notes on the page. Each of them represents one letter of the alphabet.
The alphabet is written backwards.
Now fill out the letters of each word of the cryptogram that you found in the secret system. It will reveal the following sentence:
” I composed a viola concerto”.
Now, we need to make a choice who stole Paganini’s violin. Go to the “last choice” webpage to check which composers you can choose from. This is the hardest puzzle to solve for non musicians.
- Johann Sebastian Bach
- Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
- Louis-Hector Berlioz
- Ludwig van Beethoven
One of these composers has composed a famous viola concerto.
If you have a look at the sheet music of puzzle #1 again, you will see that one of the pieces of sheet music there is only one viola concerto: Harold en Italie – Berlioz.
In the instrumentation of the sheet music you can see “Alto Solo“, which means that the viola is playing a solo piece. You can also see “Symphonie avec un alto principal” in the beginning of the sheet music. Alto Principal means solo viola.
The piece “Harold en Italie” is written for solo viola – and it is written by Berlioz.
There are a few others way in which more experienced musicians could solve the last puzzle:
- Bach is the only composer who isn’t living in the same time period as Paganini. He couldn’t have stolen his violin.
- There are no Beethoven or Mendelssohn viola concerto’s
Some musicians might even know that Berlioz was a good friend of Paganini.
History behind the Escape Game Puzzle
This puzzle is based on historical events within classical music history.
In Januari 1834, Paganini asked Berlioz to write a concerto for his new Stradivarius viola. Their relationship was already strained at that time. A few months earlier, Paganini had declined to play at a benefit Berlioz organised his upcoming wife Harriet. Upon that, Berlioz wasn’t visiting a gala recital that Paganini organized.
Even though this had happened before, Paganini still wrote Berlioz to ask him if he could write a concerto for his new viola. He told Berlioz that he had no suitable music – and if he would be willing to write that music for him. He told him “You are the only one I can trust for this task”.
Berlioz accepted his request and wrote a concert for solo viola: Harold en Italie.
When he proudly handed it over to Paganini, Paganini was disappointed. He told Berlioz that the viola had “too many rests” and that the orchestra was playing too much. Paganini wanted himself to play continuously.
Berlioz never stole Paganini’s Stradivarius violin. However, they have had a fair share of difficult moments in their relationship.
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