Rhythm: First Steps
As described in the Strings Magazine article by Judy Weigert Bossuat.
Presented by: California State University, Sacramento String Project Student Teachers, members of the Student Chapter of the American String Teachers Association at the American String Teachers Association Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico March 2008.
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Rhythm as Concept
Rhythm as Action, Rhythm in Action
Introduce and cultivate a steady sense of rhythmic pulse.
Introduce rhythmic values for written notes and rests.
Do all of the above with many children as quickly as possible with maximum success rates.
Step 1: Make rhythm a physical action
Children march in time
Add left hand
View Children March in Time Movie
Strong beats are clearly marked!
Step 2: Right hand “reads” rhythm
“Notes” are played by the right hand tapping the right leg. Rests are played by tapping the chest.
The right hand stays on the right leg for the duration of the note or on the chest for the duration of the rest. This helps students learn that they must count through rests as well as the notes.
These are the first steps to introducing beat subdivision as a physical practice, not just a concept.
Step 3: Start with large note values and progress gradually to smaller values
Step 4: Use exercises that mix up the note values that the student has learned
Whole notes + Half notes
Half notes + Quarter notes
Example: Simple Rhythm with quarter notes and rests
View Quarter Notes and Rests movie
In the movie we see Chinaly’s first day doing these exercises.
As the students progress to smaller and smaller note denominations, rhythms get more and more complicated
Concert Rhythm, Performed December 17, 2007
Concert Rhythm, By: Mr. Stanley and Austin
View Concert Rhythm video performed by Mr. Stanley and Austin
At this point, you can easily introduce time signatures!
Students have an externalized sense of beat which will lead soon to an internalized pulse.
Students can recognize note values in terms of beats.
Students are ready to organize beats into measures.
Step 5: Apply rhythm exercise to actual music!
Introduction to actual music reading.
Clarify that the lines and spaces do not change the rhythmic value of a note.
Now the student is ready to learn to read pitches…
Rhythm: First Steps Review
- Directs students to concepts including beat subdivision, rest value and note value equality, ensemble counting as well as playing and rhythmic “body awareness”.
- Acts as an easy and effective transition to reading printed music.
- Significantly reduces rushing in students of any ability.
- Aids reading comprehension by breaking music-reading down into two parts; rhythm and pitch.
- Should be used by any level student experiencing rhythmic reading problems or an advanced player who isn't’t rhythmically consistent.
- Especially for beginners and young children, it provides a break from holding their instrument.
“Playing a string instrument is physical, and we want our kids to feel the rhythm in their gut!”
(Judy Weigert Bossuat)
These easy steps can become more and more complicated helping the student to be able to decipher complicated rhythms.
Music Piece from: Rhythmic Training by Robert Starer, published by Hal Leonard
View Brentt Rhythm Movie
Rhythm: First Steps was Presented by:
California State University, Sacramento String Project Student Teachers, members of the Student Chapter of the American String Teachers Association at the American String Teachers Association Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico March 2008.
View a PowerPoint version of "Rhythm: First Steps"
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