Submitted by Julie Gaulke, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Idea posted August 19, 2002

I have a unique way of teaching rhythm to my piano students. Kids of all ages, even adults, seem to grasp this method. It's fun to say, and easy to remember. I use a pizza-related word for each type of note a beginning student may come across. As they become familiar with the first few words, we add a few harder ones. Here's what we start with:

Pair of Eighth notes = pizza

Quarter note = pan

Half note = cheese

Dotted Half note = cheeese (with 3 E's - said longer)

Whole note = cheeeese (with 4 E's - say it even longer)

Start easy, saying and clapping "pan, pan, pan, pan," and have the student say and clap the rhythm back to you. Then introduce a harder rhythm each time, having the student say it back. (Examples: "pan, pan, pizza, pan," "pizza, pan, pizza, pan," "pizza, pizza, pizza, pan.") You can also start slow and increase the tempo as the student gets better at it. Then, start introducing some even trickier rhythms, like these:

Single Eighth note = hot

Group of four 16th notes = pepperoni

Group of two 16th notes = pepper

Triplet 8th notes = pineapple

See if you can write out the rhythm for these one measure phrases:

"hot-pepper, pepper-hot, pizza, pan"

"pan, pan, pineapple, pan"

"pepperoni, pepperoni, hot-pepper, pizza"

"hot-pepper, pepperoni, pineapple, pizza"

"pineapple, pineapple, pizza, pan"

These harder rhythms might be a challenge for your average music student, but you'd be surprised how fast the little ones pick up on it once you start rapping the pizza words and clapping along. When they learn to associate certain pizza words with a picture of what the actual note/notes looks like, they will soon be able to notate the music on paper as the teacher claps it out. It really is amazing!