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This is a lesson on composing and rhythm




5, 6, 7, 8  

   Composing Unit - Rhythm charts
by Suzanne Geer
Grades 5,6,7,8

Objective - Have students create original rhythm charts.
Materials - 1) a variety of rhythm instruments
            2) copies of blank rhythm charts
            3) a baton for the students to conduct with

Students are shown a copy of a sample rhythm chart.
      (X means you play)
Students volunteer to perform this chart for the class.

Instrument     1 2 3 4   1 2 3 4   1 2 3 4   1 2 3 4
Hand drum      x   x     x   x     x x x     x   x
Triangle         x   x     x   x         x     x   x
Tambourine     x x       x x       x x       x x

Hand out blank rhythm charts. Discuss with students strong beats (1/3) vs. weak beats (2/4). Have them select 2 or 3 instruments to write a rhythm chart for. In pencil, students write a rhythm chart, experimenting with the instruments.

Have students perform their rhythm charts for the class. Let each individual “composer” select the musicians. The composer should also act as conductor, keeping a steady beat with the baton. Have the students briefly analyze (verbally) what they heard.

You can expand this lesson plan to 6/8 and/or 3/4 meter.

The next step is to have the students compose a rhythm chart to an existing song. Well known folk songs work well (Skip to My Lou, Oh, When the Saints, Go Tell Aunt Rhodie, Yankee Doodle, etc.) In order to perform the rhythm chart for the class, the teacher will need to perform the melody while the “rhythm band” performs the rhythm chart. Students can also devise their own evaluation sheet to “grade” each rhythm chart. This will keep the students who are not currently performing on task and attentive to the students who are performing.

A more complex rhythm chart can include eighth notes. Some students will naturally want to create more complex rhythms. Teacher should encourage this.

   Blank rhythm charts are easy to create.
Name ____________________________ Date _________

Instrument       1 2 3 4    1 2 3 4   1 2 3 4   1 2 3 4
# 1_______________________________________________________
# 2_______________________________________________________
# 3_______________________________________________________
# 4_______________________________________________________

(Be sure to draw in vertical lines to separate the different beats)

E-Mail Suzanne !

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