Submitted by Tami Mangusso, Colorado

Idea posted October 5, 2012

Instead of rhythm syllables you use neutral syllables (e.g., "ba ba baba ba" or "da dada dada da"). They should be able to hear the rhythm before they read it or play it or even try to write it.

Here is the steps I use when teaching rhythm:

  1. Echo rhythms on neutral syllables.
  2. Play on an instrument and students sing back the rhythm they hear on a neutral syllable.
  3. Use rhythm syllables.
  4. Play the rhythm on an instrument they say the rhythm back using rhythm syllables.
  5. Read rhythms from both stick and real notation. (I also vary using stems up and stems down.)
  6. Say the rhythm on a neutral syllable and they have to identify the rhythm I did by picking the correct card. (I have anywhere from 4-8 cards for them to review.)
  7. Same as Step 6, but with rhythm syllables.
  8. Rhythm dictation: I say the rhythm and they have to write the rhythm. I use the craft sticks, rhythm envelopes (has the notes we are working with on small squares of paper), dry erase boards.

If they struggle with one of the steps, then I go back to the previous step and then try the next step. I don't move to the next step until they really have the step we are working on.