Submitted by Denise Gagne, Alberta, Canada
Idea posted November 15, 2002
Cup games involve creating patterns that you play on cups. After the pattern is completed, you pass the cup to your right. I use cups from McDonald's - they gave me 100 of them, so when they are wrecked I just throw them away. You can use yogurt containers or purchase plastic cups at a dollar store. There are some really neat cup games that have been passed around by teens, but I find that they are too complicated for the lower elementary (and for me), so I've simplified some of the patterns for grade 3-5. In the notation that follows, q = quarter note, ee = pair of eighth notes, and r=rest.Easiest pattern: A simple cup game pattern that you can teach grade 3 is:
Beat 1 & 2: clap clap
Beat 3 & 4: play qr q on the cup with alternating hands
Beat 5-8: clap, pick the cup up, pass to the right, rest
q q ee q | q q q r
play on cup clap pick up pass restEasy pattern 2:
q q q q | ee ee q q | q q q q | q q q r ||
clap clap clap clap | play on cup
clap hit cup clap hit cup clap pickup pass restEasy pattern 3:
q q q q | q q q r | q q q q | q q q r ||
clap turn palm floor | R knee L knee floor
clap turn back palm floor R knee L knee pass restClarifications:
I included these patterns in the Complete Listening Resource Kit - Level 3 for use with the following classical music listening examples. The resource kit includes a CD with a recording of them (and many other listening examples and activities).1 - "Entry Of The Gladiators," Julius Fucik
2 - "Viennese Musical Clock," Zoltán Kodály
16 - "Favorite Rag," Scott Joplin
When you play any kind of passing game, the biggest difficulty is to get all the children passing in the same direction. I start with 25 cups in front of me and pass them out to the children in the circle one at a time. While I pass, I say "pick and pass" and keep a steady beat. This prepares the children to pass in the correct direction and it demonstrates how I want them to set the cup down to the beat of the music.
The musical purpose of teaching the cup games is to practice keeping a steady beat and to become more aware of the form of a piece.
You don't have to perform the pattern for the entire piece of music. During contrasting sections, you can play "copycat" - create and perform a body percussion beat pattern that the children copy. In the Kodály "Musical Clock," I play the cup game during the theme of the rondo, then play copycat in the B, C, and D sections. This simplifies things to a grade 3 level.
You can use pop music for cup games, but if you can find quality listening music, you're accomplishing a lot more musically.
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