Lesson activities

General Rhythmic ideas

  • Moving a rhythm from one body part to another, on a signal.
  • Ask students to march (quarter notes) with their feet and clap eighth notes. On the signal, they switch (tip toe eighths, clap quarters).
  • After we learn two different rhythms, I play one, class steps the other. If I change rhythms, the class has to change to the other one. Often there will be a measure of overlap, which creates an interesting internal friction, that takes place in a fraction of a second, and certainly grows your synapses!
  • Practice moving a rhythm from one “mode” to another, for example by singing a familiar tune and at the signal, stepping, clapping or otherwise showing the rhythm of the song.
  • Develop the song by singing, then signalling to sing it silently/internally, and on the second cue, resume singing.
  • Use a grace note for “jump” and a trill for “turn” (twirl around once).
Chants · Lesson activities

Proverb rhythms

  • “It takes | two to tango”
  • “There’s | no smoke without fire”
  • “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
  • “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
  • “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
  • “Birds of a feather flock together.”
  • “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
  • “The early bird catches the worm.”
  • “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.”
  • “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
  • “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
  • “Good things come to those who wait.”
  • “Two heads are better than one.”
  • “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”
  • “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”
  • “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”
  • “If you want something done, do it yourself.”

Learn a proverb, passing it around the circle in strict meter. On a signal, change from chanting to clapping; and on the next signal change back to chanting. Or, have the class perform the proverb as an ostinato. At a given signal, say it inside (internally), keeping strict rhythm. Next signal, say it out loud again.

Or decide on four different “modes” of performance and divide the class into four groups:

  1. clap
  2. chant
  3. improvise on instruments
  4. step rhythm.

At signal, move on to the next “mode.”

This can be done by setting up actual stations in the room, or it can be done in place as long as students remember the sequence of modes.

Related to the example of two contrasting rhythms above, find two proverbs with rhythms that complement each other. They can be the same meter. They can fill in the silences of the other rhythm. At the signal, change proverbs!