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How to Win at Musical Chairs: 14 Tips / Tricks / Strategies

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Children playing music chair game
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Are you always one of the first players to be ‘out’ in a game of Musical Chairs? It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Perhaps you are doing something wrong! 

With a few tips and tricks up your sleeve, you could win at Musical Chairs more consistently, or at least last a few more rounds than you currently do. Do you want to learn a few of those tips and tricks to win at the game? If you do, you have come to the right place!

Playing Musical Chairs involves a certain amount of strategy. You can see who the regular winners are simply by watching a game in action. Those who seem to win have a certain confidence about them. Players, who don’t seem to have Musical Chairs in the blood, often spend their time hovering above the chairs, mock sitting at various intervals. 

If you want to be more like the winners, the following pointers will help to keep you in the game longer (maybe, until the last round). Learn more about them below.

14 tricks and tips to help you win at Musical Chairs:

1. Keep close to the chairs while the music is playing.

This might not be the most charming of strategies, but a player who is close to a chair is often the player that gets the chair. If you keep in close proximity to a chair while the music is playing, you can increase your chances of getting that chair.

2. Be selfish (self-centered).

There’s no room for too many manners in a game of Musical Chairs. If you are too polite, who do you think is going to win? 

When the music stops, make a dash for a free chair, and don’t let anyone get ahead of you. If you feel sorry for other players and you should let them get a chair before you (due to your manners), you are going to lose every time.

3. Distract your opponents and then snatch a chair.

If you see another player heading for the same chair as you, you can create a distraction. Distracting other players is not a very honorable strategy, but it works! How can you do this? It’s quite easy! 

For instance, look past them with a horrified expression on your face, causing them to stop and look behind them. This will give you enough time to snatch a chair for yourself. Don’t do this too often, or people will start to notice. 

4. Listen carefully to the music.

How good are you at listening? Some say that Musical Chairs is a great game to teach children to listen better. And listening is also a good strategy for winning. 

One strategy that winners swear by is having a keen ear on the music. If you are carefully listening to the music, you will hear immediately when it is turned off and can then run to the nearest chair.

5. Avoid being distracted by others or your surroundings.

If you get too involved in being distracted by players around you, or if you wander off to read a poster on a wall across the room, you will lose out on your chance to get a chair. Keep close, only focus on the goal. In some instances, it’s probably a good idea to avoid and ignore other players completely.

6. Be confident.

Confidence is a key element in many areas of life, even in a game of Musical Chairs! Uncertainty and shyness have no place in a game of Musical Chairs. You need to know which chair you want and go for it. Don’t hesitate or hang back. Be confident!

happy young black woman
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7. Work on speeding up your response times (practice).

How quickly you respond to the music being turned off is a deciding factor in whether you win or lose. Whenever you have the opportunity to practice and improve your response time, do it. Practicing will make you a lot quicker, not just in a game of Musical Chairs, but in other aspects of life. 

8. Instead of pushing and shoving, practice being light on your feet and swift to avoid others’ movements.

Some Musical Chair players think that they need to push and shove to get their chair when the music stops, but what if the trick is to be light on your feet and agile too?

If you are light and agile on your feet, you will be able to quickly maneuver and dodge around other players, making your way to a free chair while everyone heads for the most conveniently placed chairs. 

9. Manipulate (influence) your opponents.

There’s nothing wrong with making one or two players feel a little bad for you. If you’re good at playing the manipulation game, you could get other players to give up their chair for you, or let you get ahead of them. Creativity is a key element of this one. 

10. Don’t fixate on the other players or focus too hard on the music.

Yes, you were already told that listening to the music is a tip for winning, but don’t become obsessed with it. Also, don’t fixate on the other players too much. The more you concentrate and focus on other things, the less fun you will have. 

Focus on relaxing and having fun. You have more chance of winning when you’re having fun than when you’re focusing too hard and developing a bad mood.

11. Stand your ground if you grab the same chair as another player.

Don’t make the same mistake many other losers have made in the past; don’t give up your chair. If you sit down on the same chair as another player, chances are that you are both semi-seated on it. Don’t simply give it up!

The music controller has to assess the situation and decide who has more ownership of the chair. If you are both half on the chair equally, the round is played again. This means that by standing your ground, you could win the chair or buy yourself more time to win the next round.  

12. Haggle your opponent/s – make them nervous.

While you don’t want to scare anyone in the game, you can cause your opponents to feel nervous. Someone who is nervous makes poor decisions. Toy with them when the music is playing. Run around, leap in front of people, and make others feel as if you are going to win for sure. While this isn’t the most honorable strategy, it can work. 

children playing musical chairs
buraktumler / Shutterstock.com

13. On certain occasions, head for the chair that’s least convenient.

Chances are that everyone is going to make a dive for the chairs on the outer edges, as these are the ones that are most convenient to get to. While everyone else is dashing for those chairs, you can make a dash for the chairs that are a little less convenient to get to. 

You might not be the first person in a chair, but you won’t be the person without a chair. Thinking out of the box will get you far in the game.

14. Keep a really close eye on the music controller.

One of the best possible tips and tricks that can be shared with you is to keep a close eye on whoever is controlling the music. You don’t have to do much else to win, in reality. 

By watching the music controller, you can see precisely when the music is going to end. Simply watch when their finger moves into position, ready to stop the music. Then, and only then, is it the right time to make your way towards a chair…ready to pounce. 

Last Word

Winning at Musical Chairs isn’t rocket science, but it does require a keen ear, a keen eye, and a certain amount of swiftness. If you’re willing to have fun while creating your own strategy along the way, you will win even if you end up a “loser”. Why? Because having fun is winning! 

Use the above-mentioned tips and tricks to improve on your game and ensure that you’re not always the first one out when you play.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.