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The Get-Acquainted Rhythm Game illustrates the difference between rhythm and beat




3, 4, 5  

Title – Get to Know You Rhythm Game
By – Jill Beck
Primary Subject – Music
Grade Level – 3-5


      At the beginning of a year, or when you have a new group of students, they may be a bit too self-conscious to be musically expressive in front of each other at first. I always like to have them do several icebreaker activities, ones that always have musical merit.
    One that they always enjoy is a rhythm name game.


  1. Have the students seated in a circle if possible. Then, establish some 4-beat body percussion patterns. Teacher leads and students echo. Decide as a class on a pattern to continue repeating.
  2. Have them practice the 4-beat pattern on their own. Then stop them and have them repeat after you. “I can KEEP the BEAT, (rest) and I can SAY your NAME.”
  3. Then have them re-establish the body percussion while saying the first part of the chant. Practice until all can do it together.
  4. Second half of the chant involves each individual saying their name alone, then the class repeating it, so each student is encouraged to speak clearly, loudly, and rhythmically. “I can keep the beat, and I can say your name, sitting next to ‘Lisa’ is ‘Allen’, Allen”. Allen says his name then the class says it. Go around the circle in order.
  5. It would continue in that manor. “I can keep the beat, and I can say your name, sitting next to Allen is Jasmine, Jasmine”.
  6. Encourage keeping the steady beat.
  7. I also like to use this as an opportunity to show the difference between beat and rhythm. For example, Allen is a rhythm because it is two fast sounds. Ann is a beat because it is one pulse. The words together make the rhythm, but our bodies are keeping a steady beat.

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