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Lesson plans for three activities that encourage students to perform rhythms accurately and consistently, and to be aware of the effect of rhythmic sounds on the style of the music.

Here are three simple classroom activities that promote accuracy in two areas (rhythms and keeping time) that are fundamental for good musical performance: Rhythm Imitations , Karaoke Percussion , and No Karaoke Percussion . The activities can also be used to develop awareness of the effect of percussion and rhythm on musical styles.

    Goals and standards

  • Grade Level - K-12 (adaptable for a wide range of ages and musical experience)
  • Student Prerequisites - Any student who can clap along with a steady beat is ready for these activities. The activities will still have value for older students with more musical experience if the rhythms are sufficiently complex and/or a discussion of musical styles is included.
  • Teacher Expertise - Teacher training in music education is not necessary to present this activity, but the teacher should be capable of presenting rhythms accurately and consistently. (See Rhythm and Meter .)
  • Music Standards Addressed - National Standards for Music Education standard 2 (performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music). If the Karaoke activities include a discussion of percussion backgrounds as an element of style, this also addresses music standards 6 (listening to, analyzing, and describing music) and 9 (understanding music in relation to history and culture). If the students are reading written rhythms, standard 5 (reading and notating music) is also addressed.
  • Evaluation - For assessment, decide on a level of rhythmic complexity that the student should be able to achieve in echoing rhythms or in playing a consistent, independent percussion part, then assess whether the student is succeeding at that level. If not, these activities may be repeated throughout the school year, with gradual increases in complexity as the students get more practice.
  • Follow-up - Help develop basic rhythmic skills in the students by continuing to give them, throughout the school year, simple rhythm parts to accompany music they are learning, and continuing to ask them to echo specific rhythms, particularly rhythms that they are learning to read or perform.

Activity 1: rhythm imitations


  • Time Requirements - This activity works best as a short (5-15 minute) class warm-up done often in preparation for other musical activities (such as singing, playing instruments, or doing the activities below).
  • Objectives - The student will perform specific rhythms accurately, either while reading them or immediately after hearing them.

    Materials and preparation

  • No preparation is necessary if you want the students to copy heard rhythms.
  • If you want the students to read written rhythms, write some short rhythmic figures, beginning with very simple rhythms and gradually adding complexity, or find some music with rhythms of the appropriate complexity. Any single-line music will do for this; students should be encouraged to be capable of ignoring the melodic information, when asked to convey only the rhythmic information in the line.

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Source:  OpenStax, The basic elements of music. OpenStax CNX. May 24, 2010 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10218/1.8
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