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  • Writer's pictureJenny Ferris

A Mix of Metres

Last week, I wrote about preparing, presenting and practising the concept of 2 metre

Today, I'd like to share with you some of my favourite metre activities for other time signatures.

As with last week's post, any of these time signatures can be practised by conducting along with folk songs or art music in that time signature, adding barlines to written music, following along with a score and highlighting bars when the teacher says "stop" or even using pool noodles as manipulatives!

When it comes time to choosing repertoire, here are a few of my favourites for particular time signatures

3/4 L'Hereu Riera

The L'Hereu Riera is a folk dance from the Catalan region of Spain. It features a wooden cross and a glass (traditionally a wine glass) and the fun usually comes from two dancers trying to put each other off and make each other spill their glass, such as in the video below

You can simplify this down to two simple sections. Part A involves stepping one foot forward into the square made by the wooden cross, then stepping back onto the other foot and returning your first foot to the beginning (3 steps). Repeat with the opposite foot.

Part B involves hopping into the diagonally opposite square at the top of the cross, then back onto the other leg before switching weight onto the first foot.

If you want to make things a little fancier, you can change which side of the square you stand on with every repetition.

Here is a really clear video of this simplified version:

They are using this recording by El Sac de Danses.

I particularly love this game as it means we can still have socially-distanced folk dancing in our classrooms! (depending on your covid circumstances of course).

Students can use their 30cm rulers to make a cross and I have my collection of cups from IKEA, but you can of course use any type of sturdy cup.

My students had an absolute blast taking this dance out onto the oval and trying it with actual water in their cups! Many spillages occured, but much fun was had too!

4/4 Obwissana

Obwissana is a stone-passing game from West Africa. As is often the case with folk songs & dances, there are a variety of passing patterns out there. I feel like every person I speak to has a different version of this song! All have their own gifts to offer, but as long as it features a 4 beat ostinato, it will work for teaching metre. This video shows a number of variations you can do

5/4 Take Five beanbag passing

I was so pleased the day I found this video! This is taken from an Orff levels course and features a really creative beanbag-passing ostinato in 5/4!

What are your favourite metre activities? Drop us a line at!

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