Musical Road Trip: Rhythm

Musical rhythm road trip: Ideas for teaching rhythm for your music lessons!

Hi everyone! I'm excited to be the first stop on a blog hop with other music teachers, called “Musical Road Trip”!

The idea of a blog hop is that each stop will be about a different musical topic. The first stop will be with me, in Ohio, about rhythm!

If you are a blogger and/or TpT seller, make sure to read the directions at the end of the post to link up a blog post and/or a rhythmic product for sale!

Rhythm is such an expansive topic. I've blogged many times about different aspects of rhythm, but today I thought I'd blog about different ways to approach reviewing and practicing rhythmic concepts.

When I went through my Kodaly training, I learned about the different types of learning styles, like physical, visual, and aural. Just like we need to adapt to different types of learners, we need to offer a variety of ways and strategies to practice rhythm to not only reach every type of learner, but to offer several opportunities for all students to solidify their rhythmic understanding. Here are my favorite ways to practice rhythmic concepts:

#1: Flashcards

Often, the first thing I do after students learn a rhythmic concept is simply to read flashcards. I often start with 4 beats in between each flashcard (I'll say “1, 2, ready and…” in between each card), and then I move onto 2 beats in another lesson, and then no beats in yet another lesson. Students love the challenge of having to memorize the last part!

There are so many things you can do with flashcards, though, besides just reading. Put them upside down, so students can practice reading stems upside down as they sometimes are on the staff. Have students move to the flashcards (jogging for ti-ti, walking for ta, freezing for rest, etc.) Have students change the pattern by one beat.

My friend Karla at C Major Learning put together this awesome set about all the different things you can do with rhythm flashcards!

#2: Games

Sometimes, the best way to practice a rhythmic concept is simply to play a game! Whether you play “I have/ who has,” or have students throwing a koosh ball at the SMART board and reading a pattern,  or have students play a competitive game against each other or against you to practice rhythm, if you make a game out of it, kids tend to love it (…and kind of forget that they are learning!) Here is a list of my favorite free games on TpT to practice rhythm:

Rhythm Headbands by Amy Abbott

Time to Celebrate by Amy Abbott

Tika-ti Tic-Tac-Toe by C Major Learning

Bump! by Malinda Phillips

#3: Manipulatives

Students who are tactile learners benefit so much from using manipulatives. Whether you are using popsicle sticks to practice basic rhythms, fake fruit to practice more complex rhythms, or kleenex box manipulatives to dictate and compose, students LOVE working with materials that they can manipulate to further their rhythmic understanding.

#4: Playing instruments

There is some misconception out there that Kodaly-trained teachers never use instruments, but this is of course not true. We simply make sure to begin with the voice, and when that is solid, then we move onto instruments. Playing rhythm patterns on instruments can be a GREAT way to practice rhythmic concepts. A few ways to practice on instruments:

  • Have students play rhythm patterns on non-pitched percussion (especially helpful with quarter rest, as it really helps students remember to pause for a beat!)
  • Have students improvise in C-pentatonic on rhythm patterns (students have the Orff instruments set up in C-pentatonic; they all play the same rhythm pattern, but on whichever bars they choose)
  • Students play an ostinato on instruments as they sing and/or speak a chant
  • Students compose a piece of music using rhythms they know, then transfer that to instruments.

Again, there are so many possibilities!

#5: Create

I'll be honest, in the past, I have run out of time to have students create with rhythms they know. I was so focused on reading, writing, playing, dictating, etc., that we just didn't get to it…but I know now that it needs to happen no matter what! Just like in a language arts classroom, students are expected to write their own stories, students in music class should be expected to write their own compositions! There are SO many ways to do this, but I'll just outline a few ways to start.

  • Have students “babble,” or say whichever rhythm they want in whatever order they want as you play the hand drum.
  • After dictating using manipulatives or pencil and paper, have students create their own pattern, then share it with a friend.
  • Have students create their own ostinato to play on instruments or clap as they sing or speak.
  • Have students compose 16 beats of rhythm, then play on a non-pitched percussion instrument. 

There you go…my favorite ways to practice rhythm! 

Since this is a road-trip themed blog hop, I am going to put my “Rhythm Road Trip” for tika-tika on sale for 25% off for the next several days! You can find the link below. If you are a blogger, feel free to add a link below to a rhythmic-focused blog post and/or a rhythmic product on sale for 25% off. Our next stop will be at C Major Learning with Karla Cherwinski, on Wednesday, June 17. She will blog about melody, and people will once again have the option of linking a blog post and/or a melodic product for sale!

And in case you're wondering where this musical road trip will go, here is a list!

If you are a blogger and/or music seller and want to link up, here are the directions:

  • Link up with a blog post specifically about rhythm/ rhythmic concepts, AND/OR
  • Link up to a rhythmic product on sale for 25% off (you can leave it on sale until Wednesday, June 17.)
  • You can do either simply by clicking on the button below!

What are your favorite ways to practice rhythm? Feel free to comment below. Thanks for making a stop on the musical road trip!

An InLinkz Link-up

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