Monday, March 3, 2014

Circling Up to Practice Rhythm Reading and Performance

I took video and pics this week (without kid's faces to identify them) to share with you one of my favorite ways to practice rhythms. 

I have created a Teachers Pay Teachers set for this (at three levels, one with quarter and eighth rhythms, one adding in half notes, and one adding in 16th notes), but you may want to just use your own rhythms on sentence strips too.  If it is easy to buy the set ready to go with suggestions, go for it.  If not, create your own :-)

To start this activity, I help the kids discover that each card has the exact same number of beats (some have to be coached through the value of each note and the math to totally get this concept.)  Then, we practice all saying our cards at the same time.  I walk around to clarify and assist students who are struggling with their patterns.  We hone this until we all start and actually end together!  After mastering that, we move between the cards, using 4 beats to chant, and 4 to move to the next pattern.  Once they can do this together in time, we add music to the performance, using the beat of the piece (song suggestions in the Circle-Up Sets in my store).  I assess student performances informally by standing by a card and hearing every student perform it as they walk by, or by walking and listening to several perform at one time. 

The video below shows you an early step in the process of perfecting this activity.  You'll hear my voice coaching them for the moves.  I like to get them to the point where they internalize the four beats between and don't need my constant counting to keep them together.  It's a building process to get there.  

The kids think they are rock stars and it really helps them solidify some early ensemble skills, along with important rhythm skills.

Hope this sparks some ideas for rhythm practice for you.


  1. I like the idea and will probably try it soon. I have to be careful as I find myself talking over music way too much and then hurting my voice. Have you ever tried telling the kids when to move with a sound other than your voice (like a triangle perhaps)? I do like that it helps independent musicianship skills since each kid has their own card to read. This would be fun to do with rhythm sticks (or some other portable instruments) once the kids know what to do.

  2. Looks great! thanks for the video so much easier to understand than just written instructions :)

  3. This is an awesome idea and I can already see how I could use with with vocal and recorder classes!

  4. I would love to see the video, is it supposed to be the pic on the bottom? It's not playing if so.