Submitted by Priscilla Whalen, Ohio

Idea posted May 11, 2004

I found bamboo poles in the K-Mart garden department, 12 poles for $4.99. They are five feet long and half to three-quarters of an inch diameter. (I wanted something more substantial and with a bigger diameter, but the price was right, and we haven't broken any yet.)

For three-beat patterns, the kids stand in a circle holding the bamboo pole in the left hand perpendicular to the floor with a rhythm stick in their right hand. The students number themselves off around the circle (one, two, one, two, one, etc.). I start with easy music like "A Walrus Went Waltzing" from Music K-8, Vol. 13, No. 3.

This is a good way to teach form by having them change variation with each section of the music. My fifth and sixth grade classes are working on "Blue Danube." They not only have to change variations, but they also have to be very sensitive to the tempo changes.

Variation #1 - Beat one, hit bamboo to floor. Beat two and three, tap bamboo with the rhythm stick.
Variation #2 - Beat one, hit bamboo to floor. Beat two, hit your own pole with the rhythm stick. Beat three, hit the pole of the person standing to your right with your rhythm stick.
Variation #3 - All Variation #2 students form an inside circle facing a Variation #1 student. (They have to jump in quickly to position.) Beat one, bamboo to floor. Beat two, hit your own pole with the rhythm stick. Beat three, hit your partner's pole with the rhythm stick.
Variation #4 - (Make sure the students are far enough apart. I start out having them spread all around the room to practice.) All Variation #2 students form an inside circle facing a Variation #1 student. Beat one, bamboo to floor. Beat two, Variation #1 student raises their pole to a horizontal position using two hands while Variation #2 student hits their own pole with the rhythm stick. Beat three, Variation #1 student is still holding pole in horizontal position with two hands while Variation #2 student hits the horizontal pole with the rhythm stick. Now reverse it, so that Variation #1 student hits the floor with their pole, hits their own stick, hits their partner's stick at the same time that Variation #2 student hits the floor with their pole, brings their pole to horizontal position, and holds. (You hold the pole horizontally with both hands while also keeping the rhythm stick in your right hand.)

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