Teaching Aids for Music presents an OMEA clinic on how ‘Little Hands On Rhythm®- Activity Games’ can be used to teach Rhythm Notation in the classroom.
We know reading music is a wonderful skill to have. It enriches our lives in so many ways and we want to pass on this gift to our students. By building the students’ rhythm literacy early they can be ready to read music in any form. There is a wealth of music out there for students to explore and we want them to have the rhythm knowledge to play and enjoy it.
In this presentation we will be using the rhythm primer kit ‘Little Hands On Rhythm® – Activity Games’ to go through five steps that will guide students to rhythm literacy.
• Awareness of the beat – the ability to feel and respond to a beat.
• Rhythm concepts– learning the names of notes and rests and their beat values
• Vocabulary – The ability to use the notes and rests correctly in context by building rhythms.
• Rhythm comprehension – The ability to recognize and interpret the meaning of the notes and rests when reading rhythms.
• Fluency – The ability to read rhythm with speed, understanding, and accuracy.
About Little Hands On Rhythm® – Activity Games
The Little Hands On Rhythm – Activity Games is a rhythm primer kit that comes with 112 magnetic manipulatives, one magnetic board, a Time Tree reference card, a card set and instructions on how the play the rhythm games. On the T.A.M. website are 13 tutorials on teaching the notes, rests, time signatures and bar lines that you can use as a guide.
The Card Set. The numbers on the cards represent the note and rest values. The wild cards are instruments of the orchestra. It is an indirect way of introducing instruments to students. You can also use the wild cards in a music center where students can sort the instruments on the cards into the different sections of the orchestra. The cards can be used as a listening game by identifying instruments based on their timbre.
I want to teach one of the note values with you and play some of the rhythm games so you can get an idea of how they could work in the classroom.
For kindergarten and grade, one student starts with the quarter note. exploring note value without the time signature or bar lines. The students must first learn the quarter note is one beat.
Awareness of the Beat
Teachers can show the students a picture of a clock.
Students pretend they are the second hand of the clock by saying and clapping the tick-tock of a clock to mimic the regular pulse. This gets the pulse in the body. Show what this would look like by placing the basic beat (use 2/4 B.B.) on the rhythm board and again repeat by pointing, saying and clapping the tick-tock of the clock on the rhythm board. Now the students are reading something concrete.
Rhythm Concepts – Learning the name of the note and its meaning or its beat value.
The basic beat can be moved to the top of the rhythm board and the students can now engage directly with the quarter notes by placing them underneath the quarter notes in the B.B. Talk about the quarter note structure. The note head and the note stem.
Kids don’t need to draw the notes to understand their meaning but having the tactile connection is important.
Saying the name of the note as they place it under the basic beat helps the student register the name with the graphic. Also, by placing the quarter notes under the B.B the student is learning the quarter note is one beat. They are learning also to evenly space the quarter note on the rhythm board. No writing required.
You can relate the quarter note on the board to one beat each for every tick-tock of the clock. Again, they pretend they are the clock and read and clap the quarter notes on the board as they are pointed out.
Transition too counting the number of quarter notes in each basic beat….in other words counting the beat. The students place the beat counters under the notes to solidify the concept of counting the number of quarter notes in each B.B.
This step gives students time to absorb the concept of the quarter note as one beat. So Two quarters = 2 beats. 1 + 1 = 2. Kids are learning addition in grade 1 and by using the beat counters teachers present a cross-curriculum opportunity for students that relate to music and math.
Kids enjoy building things. And here they can build a rhythm they can count.
On the T.A.M. website are 13 tutorial videos on how you can teach the note and rest values in the primer kit.
Once the students have learned all the note and rest values you can move on to the Time Signature. In the primer kit, there are three-time signatures. 2/4, 3/4, 4/4
To introduce the time signature set up the rhythm board using the 2/4 basic beat. There is a time signature box with questions to help the student understand what the 2 numbers in the T.S. represent.
Use the basic beats to explain the time signature since they are a graphic representation of it. Seeing the basic beat and the time signature together helps to explain the meaning of the top and bottom numbers. Have the students play a matching game by connecting the T.S. with the correct B.B and visa versa.
It is at this point the bar lines are introduced. Show the students the bars lines in a piece of music and explain their purpose. Ask the students questions. How do we separate the beats into bars? How do we make bars? Have the students find the bar lines in the box and place them on the board.
So now we have all our tools and we can apply them in our rhythm vocabulary.
VOCABULARY – The ability to use the notes and rests, time signatures and bar lines to build rhythms. The upper-level grades would more quickly grasp the meaning of the notes and rests, time signatures and bar lines. After a few lessons, they should be able to use the pieces to play some of the rhythm games and make up their own rhythms to present to the class. They will be able to move on to the extension pieces that will challenge them to create new and complex rhythms.
Student interaction is imperative. Getting the kids involved in handling the basic beat, notes, rests, bar lines, time signatures and counting numbers connect them with the process and give them ownership of it. This allows them to start putting the pieces together to build rhythm sentences.
RHYTHM COMPREHENSION– The ability to recognize and interpret the meaning of the notes and rests when reading rhythms.
In this category, students are reading rhythms, listening to rhythms and comprehending there meaning. We could play a few of the rhythm to demonstrate this step. ‘What did you Hear or ‘Make it Appear’ would work. In both examples, the student can demonstrate their rhythm comprehension.
• FLUENCY – the ability to read rhythm with speed, confidence, and accuracy. This is the goal and it can be achieved through repetition.
The manipulatives can be easily rearranged to present new rhythm sentences, This presents an opportunity for the student to hone their rhythm reading skills through repetition of use.
As an overview, this is how Little Hands On Rhythm – Activity Games can help teachers build the students’ rhythm literacy.
1. By incrementally introducing awareness of the beat as it relates to rhythm concepts – using tactile, visual, auditory and oral learning.
2. By using manipulatives as rhythm vocabulary so students can actively participate in learning the names, beat value and application of the rhythm pieces.
3. Strengthening rhythm comprehension by using their rhythm knowledge to engage in interactive games.
4. Increasing Fluency. The manipulatives provide a quick rearrangement of notes and rests so students can practice new configurations for fast recognition and response.
5. By not having to waste time writing and rubbing out rhythms on the chalkboard.
6. By allowing students to learn and participate as a group.
It would be wonderful to know that students are beginning to learn how to read rhythm at an early age. The teachers can feel confident that they are passing on students with rhythm literacy that will be built upon in the next grade. By the time students get to grade six, they will be proficient rhythm readers.
There is lots of music out there waiting to be played. Let’s give all students the opportunity to access it.