Ripper Rhythm Activities
So you've just made conscious taa and ti-ti. Now what?
Instead of charging full speed into the next rhythmic discovery, it's important to give your students the chance to put their new knowledge into practice and play around with their newfound rhythmic friend. It's also important for you as a teacher to be able to assess that they have in fact fully understood this new concept.
There are 6 broad forms that this practice may take: Performing, Reading, Writing, Composing, Improvising and Listening.
So how to go about doing that? Below is a list of suggested activities for practising a new rhythmic element.
Mr. Fuzzy reading
I wrote about this wonderful download from Aileen Miracle in this post here, but I figure it's worth mentioning again. The file displays a number of fuzzy monsters on your IWB which, when clicked, will lead you to a rhythm which must be accurately read by the student in order to get back to the main menu.
This is a wonderful free website which serves as a user-friendly tool for rhythmic dictation. It can either be operated on the IWB and involve the whole class or, if your school has computers or an iPad program, students can work independently.
Rhythm train dictation (like Chinese Whispers)
This game works a little bit like Chinese Whispers. Students form a couple of seated lines facing the whiteboard. Tap a rhythm on the shoulder of the students at the back of each line (depending on the number of lines I sometimes have to use xylophone mallets to reach all students' shoulders at the same time!). As soon as they have felt the rhythm, they tap it on the shoulder of the person in front of them and so on up the line until it reaches the leader, who writes down what they felt on the whiteboard. It's amazing how much the rhythm can change from one person to another. It's even more rewarding when students start getting it right!
My students love this one! Choose a student to come up and sit in the hot seat in front of the whiteboard. Write a rhythm above their head so that the class can see it but they cannot. Have the class clap the rhythm and see if the student can echo it back in rhythm names.
This is fairly self-explanatory. Create a number of bingo grids (or check out mine here!) then hand them out and have students mark off the rhythms in their grid as you clap them. This can be used as a great reading assessment tool.
Not the Same Rhythm - props to Stuart Gillard for this one
The wonderful Stuart Gillard presented this idea at a conference a while back and I have been shamelessly stealing it for my classes ever since. It involves dividing the class up into 5 groups and giving them a set of four rhythm cards - three of one rhythm, one of another (eg. three taas and one ti-ti). Students have 10 seconds to come up with a unique rhythm and then all read them out. If they have created a rhythm that no one else thought of, they get a point. However, if another team has also written that rhythm, then neither of them gets a point. Play for a few rounds and see who the winners are.
Perhaps the most straightforward means of reading rhythms, the use of flashcards should be one of your staple practice activities. You can have students perform them, inner hear them, match up the cards to the rhythm being performed, join them together to create a rhythm snake - the possibilities are endless!
Rhythm wallets & round the world
I wrote about these wonderful wallets in an earlier post that you can check out here. I think they are a really easy way of doing rhythmic dictation - particularly for young students who aren't great with pencil-wielding just yet.
I love introducing my students to great repertoire as part of a practice activity. For example, when my students have discovered saa, I share with them this video of the allegretto from Beethoven's 7th Symphony and have them put their hand up every time they hear a saa. I then ask them to see if they can work out what the repeated pattern is and how frequently the saas occur.
This version below is great for visual learners too - they can SEE the saas coming!