Today in General Music Methods (K-12 practicum) we did a really neat exercise for teaching rhythms. The teacher passed out a sheet of paper (we kept it upside down for the moment) on which were printed sixteen boxes in four rows of four. The teacher used a frame drum and kept a steady beat with a mallet and asked the class to “patsch on your laps while I play.” (“Patsch” is just some education guy’s word for patting on your lap…seriously.) She played a few different rhythms, demonstrating playing one “sound” on every beat, and two sounds on every beat. She then asked the class to do the same thing using their “beaters” (two fingers on each hand, tapping on each other) once with one sound in every beat and once with two sounds.
We turned over our “beat box rhythm” papers and were told to tap once in each box for one sound, following the rows from left to right and going down the page. We did this for two sounds as well. (I think you can see where this is going; quarter notes and eighth notes.) The teacher passed out little packages of M&Ms and played another rhythm, and this time we placed an M&M in a box for each sound we heard on that box’s beat. She alternated rhythms and mixed it up a bit, etc. Then we were allowed to create our own rhythms and play or say them for the class. It’s a cute lesson that might be fun for a younger class, maybe 1st graders. 🙂