These fun and engaging rhythm activities are perfect for music teachers of all levels, from beginners to experts. Teaching rhythm to students can seem like a daunting task, but with these five engaging rhythm activities, you’ll have your students’ rhythmic skills on the up and up in no time! So, grab your instruments and let’s get started!
3 Engaging Rhythm Activities Clapping Games
Some of the best ways to engage your students in class is with games. When you play games in the music classroom the best part is that students learn while having fun, and these simple but engaging rhythm activities will surely become a regular part of your music lessons!
Clapping games are a great way to teach students about keeping a steady beat. They’re also a lot of fun! Here are a few clapping games for you to try:
Stomp, Stomp, Clap, Snap
For this game, students stomp their feet on the floor, then clap their hands, then snap their fingers on the count of three. Repeat this sequence faster and faster until everyone is keeping a steady beat. A fun variation of this game is to play it while a piece of music with a changing tempo is being played. One good song for this is “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Grieg, or why not try the 80’s hit song – “Come on Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners!
For this game, start with you as the teacher clapping a simple rhythm and the class claps it back to you. Then, go around the room and have one student clap a simple rhythm. The rest of the class echoes the claps back. Then, the next student in line creates a new rhythm for the class to echo. This is a great way to get everyone involved and moving! Again, this simple game can be made interesting by performing it over a piece of music.
Call and Response
This game is similar to “Echo Claps”, and you would be best to play this one after you have played Echo Claps first. One student plays a simple rhythm on an instrument while the rest of the class repeats it back. Then, the student changes the rhythm, and the class repeats that one back. This activity can be done with any type of instrument! This game works well if you choose a “Master Percussionist” to lead the game for the day.
Are looking for other ways that you can keep your music students engaged in the music classroom, then grab yourself a FREE copy of the 25 page eBook called – 5 Simple Ways to Makeover your Music Curriculum here
Write your own rhythms
Another way to get your students involved and learning is through these engaging rhythm activities for composition. Having students write and compose their own music is a really great way to check for understanding and to see how well students can compose and perform their own music. It is best to have students composing after they have learned some sort of notation – this could be graphic or traditional.
Graphic Notation Grid
Give students a simple 4 x 4 grid with 16 squares in it, (see the image below). As a class, demonstrate that each square is worth one beat, and that rhythms can be read several ways – forwards, backwards, horizontally, vertically, or even diagonally!
Have students complete the grid with either a single note, two notes or a rest. If your students have been taught music notation, then use what you have taught them – quarter note/crotchet, eight notes/quavers, and quarter note/crotchet rests.
Play the rhythms together as a class, then try breaking the class into smaller groups and perform several of the rhythms from the grid at the same time. To make this interesting, use the percussion instruments you have available in your classroom.
After demonstrating as a class, break the class into smaller groups and have them compose their own “grids” and their own rhythmic composition. You might want to even have them perform for the class. This makes for a great assessment for both composition and performance!
Make Your Own instruments
This music lesson activity is perfect for any students who are just starting to learn about rhythm. Have each student create their own instrument using household supplies like plastic cups, paper plates, cans, etc. Once everyone has made their instrument, have each student play their instrument along with a recording of music or have them play together as an ensemble!
This simple activity is an assignment that I have used for many years, mainly when we are completing a unit of work on The Orchestra. If you would like to do this assignment with your classes, check out the resource that is ready for you to use straight away.
There you have it—five activities that are sure to engage your students and help them improve their rhythmic skills! Do you have any favorite activities that you use when teaching rhythm? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
Until next time
Julia from Jooya