This week we take it one step further and eliminate all teacher created rhythms. Instead, we ask the students to provide the rhythm content and the teacher simply provides the structure and shape.
Here is how it works...
- Students are seated (or standing) in a circle and each student has a junkyard percussion instrument.
- Pick one student and ask them to play a rhythm pattern on their instrument and keep playing it. Go easy on yourself and start with a student whom you know will play something steady.
- Ask the student next to them to add a different rhythm on their instrument. Proceed all the way around the circle until everybody is playing.
Now it's your job to take this simple activity and make it musical. While students are playing:
- Solo certain instruments by yelling "Shaker solo!" or something like that
- Sculpt the piece by changing the dynamic with hand gestures
- Play a fake endings where you stop everybody and then start again 4 beats later
- Add accents by clapping; students play the accent when you clap
Here is what our class sounded like last week:
Some students may not feel comfortable providing their own rhythms. No Problem. Model one of these simple but groove-guaranteed rhythms.
You can also give students the option to either copy the rhythm of the student before them or create something new. This gives students an out if they can't think of an interesting rhythm.
- Rotate instruments every 30 seconds so kids can play different instruments. Just say, "pass your instrument to the right."
- Start over but have students add just one note (or two notes or whatever)
- Change the meter to triple or even 5/8 or 7/8
Why will it work during the final months?
Student based compositions are always a good idea, but they are especially useful during the final weeks of school since you don't have to convince students to play a certain rhythm. Students are always motivated to play rhythms that they naturally play well or simply have an affinity for.
Also this activity is student centered, with students making meaningful choices. Those two things will help to keep your blood pressure low during the last weeks of school.
Good luck and don't forget to subscribe to the The Bucket Book blog to receive email updates with more lesson plan ideas!