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Music students love to create these rhythmic syllable sentences


Language Arts, Math, Music  


3, 4, 5, 6  


Title – Using Word Syllables to Create Rhythmic Sentences
By – Michelle L, Miller
Primary Subject – Music
Secondary Subjects – Language Arts, Math
Grade Level – 3-6 

This lesson demonstrates how to use one word with one or multiple syllables to represent rhythmic patterns.

  1. Create a sheet to distribute to students that contains words with one, two, and four syllables. Assign note values to each word grouping (i.e.: one-syllable words would be quarter note value, two syllable would be two eighth notes in value, etc.).

    My columns look something like the following:

    • Quarter note words–Maine, Look, Help
    • 2 Eighth note words–many, happy, Utah
    • 4 sixteenth note words–information, education, Arizona

      Expand this by adding three-syllable words with the stressed syllable in different places. Example:

    • Eighth-two sixteenth (1st syllable stressed)–Bulldozer
    • Two sixteenth-eighth (3rd syllable stressed)–clarinet
      syncopated (2nd syllable stressed)–computer
  2. Explain how each word can be grouped by note value.
  3. Write on board an example, using words from list, how to create a rhythm by writing a sentence, then assigning note value to the words chosen. Example:

    I went to Iowa last summer for my vacation.

    I, went, to, last, for, my=quarter note words
    Iowa=2 sixteenth-eighth note word
    summer=2 eighth note word
    vacation=syncopated rhythm (I use eighth-quarter-eighth)

  4. Using your model as a guide, have students create a sentence, then write the note values for the words. Let students know that they must have at least two words with two-, three-, or four-syllables for eighth, sixteenth, or combination rhythms, or all you’ll get is quarter note words in their sentences.
  5. Check each sentence to see if students have proper notation for each word, proper spelling, etc.
  6. Using a hand drum for steady beat, have each student read his/her sentence to the class, being careful to say each word to the beat. This reinforces the concept of multiple sounds to one beat, which makes understanding complex note patterns easier to grasp.

This lesson takes about 30 minutes to do. It can be expanded by assigning solfege syllables/pitches to create a melody based on the students’ sentences (I allow about three solfege pitches-usually do mi sol-otherwise things get too complicated).

My kids love to create these sentences and rhythms, and really enjoy the new melodies they have written themselves! I ask for spelling lists from the students’ grade-level teachers and incorporate these words where I can, so the kids get the best of both worlds, and the teachers get help reinforcing proper spelling.

Good Luck!

E-Mail Michelle L, Miller !

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