Compose Your Own Rhythm Duets

I’ve got some kids who just aren’t feeling the rhythm. This is what I came up with for them.

What You Need:

  • A die
  • A blank sheet for rhythm duets.
    • I printed it only once and put it in sheet protectors.
  • Pencil (or whiteboard marker if you’re using the sheet protectors)
    • Alternatively, you can skip the composing your own rhythm idea and just use flashcards with rhythms on them (each one needs one measure).
  • Special 6 Cards


  • Shuffle the Special 6 cards
  • Write out what note values you want to go with each number on the die. For example, 1 = quarter note, 2 = half note, etc. Depending on the ability level of the student, some might be two eighth notes or a dotted quarter note. Reserve 5 for wild and 6 for the Special 6 card.

How to Play:

  • Student rolls the die. They need to create a measure in 4/4 time that includes at least one of whatever note value they rolled. Write their rhythm in one of the measures on their line (it does not have to be the first measure).
    • For most students, I had them count and clap the measure first and then write it because I want them to feel the beat more than I want them to be able to add up to four beats. But if they struggle with that, you could do it the other way around.
    • Most students also wrote their own rhythm down. I only did it for the youngest ones.
    • If you roll a 5 (wild), there are no restrictions. Any note values are fine.
    • If you roll a 6 on the first turn, just roll again. If you roll a 6 on subsequent turns, draw a special 6 card, follow the instructions, and roll again.
  • Teacher takes a turn and creates a measure on her own line.
  • Once you both have a measure, count and clap your lines as a duet.
    • If a measure has nothing in it yet, treat it as a whole rest.
    • For every measure done correctly, award one point. (Don’t count the rest measures.)
  • Repeat the process, except count and clap the duet and award points after each person has a turn. This ensures the student always has a chance to remain a point ahead. Continue until you fill all the measures or you run out of lesson time.


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