Teaching rhythm and pulse

Rob Jones

There are many different approaches to teaching rhythm and pulse.  The rhythm box approach is one of the most well known approaches and has been developed from the methods of George Self.

Start by drawing a grid with 8 boxes and a dot in each box like this.  Clap all together counting up to 8 as you clap.
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Now erase one of the dots.  When you clap, this time omit the missing dot.
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Repeat, erasing more dots.  Try clapping up to 8 then immediately starting again at 1.
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Try a 2 part piece.  This now introduces score reading to pupils.  Perhaps the boys can clap the top part and the girls the bottom part.
 
 
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Some pupils will now have mastered this well, so they can be stretched by using double dots in boxes, equivalent to quavers (8th notes).  You could expand the boxes now to 16.  Here is an example in 2 parts.
 
 
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At any stage, replace hand claps for instrument sounds.  If in two parts, try two different timbres, for example a glock sound against a drum sound is effective.

The next stage is to introduce semiquavers (16th notes).
 
 
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Variations
There are many possible variations to this introduction to rhythm and pulse.  Instead of 2 parts, there could be 4 or more parts, with pupils composing their own rhythms in the boxes.  The transition from this to staff notation is simply effected.
 
 

This page is taken from the Music Teacher's Resource Site