musical chairs

Musical chairs
Age rangeusually children
Setup time1 minute
Playing timevariable
Random chanceMusic stoppage may seem random to players, but is under the control of the leader
Skills requiredquick reaction time

This article discusses the children's game musical chairs. For the 1975 CBS game show hosted by Adam Wade, see Musical Chairs (1975 TV series); for the 1955 NBC game show hosted by Bill Leyden, see Musical Chairs (1955 TV series).

Musical chairs is a game played by a group of people (usually children), often in an informal setting purely for entertainment such as a birthday party. The game starts with any number of players and a number of chairs one fewer than the number of players; the chairs are arranged in a circle (or other closed figure if space is constrained; a double line is sometimes used) facing outward, with the people standing in a circle just outside of that. A non-playing individual plays recorded music or a musical instrument. While the music is playing, the players in the circle walk in unison around the chairs. When the music controller suddenly shuts off the music, everyone must race to sit down in one of the chairs. The player who is left without a chair is eliminated from the game, and one chair is also removed to ensure that there will always be one fewer chair than there are players. The music resumes and the cycle repeats until there is only one player left in the game, who is the winner.

Other Meanings

"Playing musical chairs" is also a metaphorical way of describing any activity where items or people are repeatedly and usually pointlessly shuffled among various locations. It can also refer to a condition where people have to expend time searching for a resource, such as having to travel from gasoline station to gasoline station when there is a shortage.

"Musical chairs" is or was formerly also known as "Going to Jerusalem." Laura Lee Hope describes it under that name in chapter XIII of The Bobbsey Twins at School, as does John P. Marquand in chapter XXXI of Wickford Point.

In the musical Evita, during the song "the art of the possible" Juan Perón and a group of other military officers play a game of musical chairs which Perón wins, symbolizing his rise to power.

In mathematics, the principle that says that if the number of players is one more than the number of chairs, then one player is left standing, is the pigeonhole principle.

See also: Chinese fire drill


Instead of using chairs, one version of the game has players sit on the ground when the music stops, the last to sit being eliminated. This is known as 'musical bumps'. In 'musical statues', players stop moving when the music stops, and stay standing in the same position. If any player is seen moving, they are out of the game.

In the non-competitive version of "musical chairs" one chair but no player is eliminated in each round. All players have to sit down on the remaining chairs, while their feet must not touch the floor. A Cold Wind Blows is another noncompetitive substitute for "musical chairs."

The game's name in different languages

  • Cantonese: 爭凳仔 (literally fighting for chairs)
  • Catalan: "El joc de les cadires" (The game of the chairs)
  • Danish: "Stoledans" (Chair dance)
  • Dutch: "Stoelendans" (Chair dance)
  • Filipino: "Trip to Jerusalem"
  • French: "Chaises musicales" (Musical chairs)
  • German: "Reise nach Jerusalem" (Journey to Jerusalem)
  • Greek: "Μουσικές Καρέκλες" - Musikes Karekles (Musical chairs)
  • Hebrew: "kisot muziklayim; כסאות מוזיקליים" (Musical chairs)
  • Norwegian: "Stol-leken" (The Chair Game)
  • Portuguese: "Dança das cadeiras" (Dance of the chairs)
  • Russia: "Скучно так сидеть" (It's boring sitting like this)
  • Romania: "Pǎsǎricǎ mutǎ-ţi cuibul" (Birdie, move your nest)
  • Spanish: "El juego de las sillas", "El juego de la silla" (The game of the chairs); "La sillita musical", "Las sillas musicales" (The musical chair); in Argentina: "El baile de las sillas" (Dance of the chairs)
  • Swedish: "Hela havet stormar" (The whole sea is storming)
  • Thai: "Kao'ee Dontri" (Musical chairs)

See also

game show involves members of the public or celebrities, sometimes as part of a team, playing a game, perhaps involving answering quiz questions, for points or prizes. In some shows contestants compete against other players or another team whilst other shows involve contestants
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Singer, drummer and television actor Adam Wade was born March 17, 1937 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Wade was popular in the early 1960s with vocal styling similar to that of Johnny Mathis.
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Bill Leyden (d. March 11, 1970) was a television game show host and announcer who emceed aix game shows, including It Could Be You (1956-62), Your First Impression (1962-64), and You're Putting Me On (1969).
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game is a structured or semi-structured , usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes also used as an educational tool. (The term "game" is also used to describe simulation of various activities e.g., for the purposes of training, analysis or prediction, etc.
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birthday, for example by having a birthday party with family and/or friends. Gifts are often given to the person celebrating the birthday. It is also customary to treat people specially on their birthday, either generally acceding to their wishes, or subjecting them to a rite of
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chair is a piece of furniture for sitting, consisting of a seat, a back, and sometimes arm rests, commonly for use by one person. Chairs also often have four legs to support the seat raised above the floor. Without back and arm rests it is called a stool.
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Metaphor (from the Greek: metapherin) is language that directly compares seemingly unrelated subjects. In the simplest case, this takes the form: "The [first subject] is a [second subject].
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Laura Lee Hope is a pseudonym used by the Stratemeyer Syndicate for the Bobbsey Twins and several other series of children's novels. Actual writers taking up the pen of Laura Lee Hope include Howard and Lilian Garis, Elizabeth Ward, Harriet (Stratemeyer) Adams, and Nancy Axelrad.
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The Bobbsey Twins are the principal characters of what was, for many years, the Stratemeyer Syndicate's longest-running series of children's novels, penned under the pseudonym Laura Lee Hope.
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John Phillips Marquand (November 10, 1893 – July 16, 1960) was a 20th-century American novelist. He achieved popular success and critical respect, winning the 1938 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for The Late George Apley and creating the Mr. Moto spy series.
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Cover of Original Broadway Recording
Music Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics Tim Rice

Based upon The life of Eva Peron
Productions 1976 concept album
1978 West End
1979 Broadway
1996 Film
2006 West End revival
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Juan Domingo Perón (October 8, 1895 – July 1, 1974) was an Argentine general and politician, elected three times as President of Argentina and serving from 1946 to 1955 and from 1973 to 1974.
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pigeonhole principle, also known as Dirichlet's box (or drawer) principle, states that, given two natural numbers n and m with n > m, if n items are put into m
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A Chinese fire drill is a prank, or perhaps an expression of high spirits, that was popular in the United States during the 1960s. It is performed when a car is stopped at a red traffic light, at which point all of the car's occupants get out, run around the car, and return to
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A Cold Wind Blows is a noncompetitive substitute for the game of musical chairs. It was developed in the 1970s as part of the New Games movement, developed by Andrew Fluegelman and colleagues.
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Cantonese or Yue (粵語) is a major Chinese dialect group or language, a member of the Sino-Tibetan family of languages. The exact number of Cantonese speakers is unknown due to a lack of statistics and census data.
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