How To Teach Rhythm Lessons
As a budding musician, it’s important that what is seen as a set of incomprehensible signs and symbols on a page is connected to what is felt as rhythm.
There is no definitive method to teach rhythm lessons, the best approach is to introduce different activities.
Simple rhythmic exercises coordinate different parts of the brain which can develop a sense of rhythm:
Dictation skills can begin with easy simple rhythms and progress to complex rhythms which include syncopation and triplets which can be used in many time signatures.
More measures and bars can be added to improve musical memory. There are many free rhythm apps available such as Music Rhythm Master and other online resources such as teoria.com
Using flashcards to teach rhythm lessons
Flash cards can be used in many ways from note names, keys and of course, rhythms.
Clapping different rhythmic clips or along with phrases
Basically it simply involves students repeating by clapping the rhythm they have heard or participating in the rhythm, played to them in a short clip or phrase.
Students can be presented a backing track, a song or the metronome to clap a variety of rhythms along to the beats.
Encourage students to record themselves
Clapping along to recordings evenly will also improve the sense of rhythm.
- ‘Apple pie’ is quaver-quaver-crotchet (8th-8th-16th note).
- ‘Fish and chips’ is dotted crotchet-quaver-crotchet (dotted 8th-16th -8th note).
- Kodály rhythmic syllabaries work just as well. When counting a quarter note, the word “ta” would be used or when speaking a series of 16th notes, “tika-tika” would be used.
Exploring what ways smart phones or tablets can be used
They can make learning fun.
Practice with the metronome
However, marking music beats with ticks will provide a visual line up of where beats fall.
Practising with a metronome will develop rhythmic and technical skills quickly and very efficiently.
Working through challenging passages without making mistakes, will gradually increase speed and improve fluency.
Students should be discouraged to play pieces fast which they’re unable to play slow.
Counting while playing
However, some simple exercises can help to master counting while playing. Students can:
- Start to write the beats on their music scores.
- Count out loud to music recordings.
- Try counting and playing at the same time to music which they find easy to play.
- Progress to playing simple music and build their ability to count and play simultaneously gradually.
Work in small sections
Working in small sections can be less daunting than playing a whole phrase or the whole piece.
Develop a natural sense of rhythm
A good method is to start with the bass then trying chords and adding accompaniment rhythm.
If a solo instrument is used, single notes can be played or chord notes.
Practise in stages
Adding rhythmic elements such as accents, accents on the on-beat and off-beats and clapping on them will further develop the sense of rhythm.
Subdivisions, dotted rhythms, syncopation and triplets are great rhythm devices to use.
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