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Valentine Rhythm Dictation

Among my students, Valentine’s Day is controversial. Their reaction ranges from love to hate, with most hovering around total indifference. Fortunately, there is a way to make a Valentine’s activity that appeals to all of the above because the poems range from the traditionally sweet, through the silly surprising, down to the frankly insulting. I used this activity with all my students of all levels. The only difference was that the more advanced students could do it faster and with less help.

What You Need:

Setup:

  • None

How to Play:

  • Show the student all the Valentine poems so they can pick their favorite.
  • Determine the time signature.
    • I do this by telling them I’m going to clap and say the first measure (“Roses are”). Once they figure out that it’s in 3/4 time, they can write that before the first word of the poem.
  • Draw the first bar line.
    • Since I’ve already told them that the first measure ends after the word “are,” they need a bar line there.
  • Draw the first three notes above the first three syllables.
    • Repeat counting and saying the first measure. Some students may need a few hints to realize that each of those syllables gets a quarter note.
  • Finish the first line.
    • Count and say the entire first line. I made the final word a dotted half note. Obviously, alternate rhythms are possible, but the main point is not what the rhythm is, but whether the student can identify and write whatever rhythm you do.
  • Dictate the second line.
    • I did it as a whole line now that they have the idea of what to do.
    • Point out that the rhythm between first and second lines are exactly the same. That is normal and expected in this type of poetry. In music, it would be called a rhythmic motif.
  • Repeat the process for the third and fourth lines. The rhythms here will not be the same.
  • Have the student say and clap the whole poem in rhythm.
  • If there is still time, move to the piano and compose a song. The notes can be any note in C major (all the white keys). The rhythm should be the rhythm they wrote down.

Variations:

  • To make it easier, you can put in all the bar lines and time signature first, and do only one measure at a time.
  • To make it harder, don’t use the natural speaking rhythm. Syncopation or other unexpected rhythms usually go over well.
  • To make it longer, have the student change the rhythm after having written down yours.
  • To review the rhythms again afterwards, use percussion instruments to play it.

 

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Giant Staff—Twister (Music Twist)

For this activity, you need a giant staff. I made mine by using a Sharpie marker to draw five evenly spaced lines on a piece of heavy white fabric. The fabric was leftover from a friend’s IKEA curtains adventure, so the whole thing was free. Alternatively, you could check out the curtains/tablecloth section in Goodwill. No need to spend a lot of money on a nice, new piece of fabric.

What You Need:

  • A giant staff
  • A treble or bass clef
    • It doesn’t have to match the size of the staff. Mine doesn’t.
  • Cards with the musical alphabet on them, such as these
  • Hand and foot cards

Setup:

  • Lay out your giant staff and place the clef.

How to Play:

  • The teacher draws a hand/foot card and a letter card and calls them out. The student has to place that body part on that note.
  • If they are still more or less upright when the time runs out or the cards run out, they win.
  • If they fall down, just start from scratch.
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Giant Staff—Twister

Giant Staff—Hopscotch

For this activity, you need a giant staff. I made mine by using a Sharpie marker to draw five evenly spaced lines on a piece of heavy white fabric. The fabric was leftover from a friend’s IKEA curtains adventure, so the whole thing was free. Alternatively, you could check out the curtains/tablecloth section in Goodwill. No need to spend a lot of money on a nice, new piece of fabric.

What You Need:

  • A giant staff
  • A treble or bass clef
    • It doesn’t matter if your clef doesn’t match your staff in size. Mind doesn’t.
  • Some kind of marker, such as a bean bag, bottle cap, whatever

Setup:

  • Lay out your giant staff

How to Play:

  • Stand beneath the staff and toss your marker onto the staff.
  • If the marker lands on a space, you’ll be hopping spaces. On one foot, hop to the first space and name the note you’re on. Then hop to the next space and name it. Skip the note with your marker. When you reach the top, turn around (still on one foot) and hop back.
  • If the marker lands on a line, do the same process with the lines.

Variations:

  • To make it easier, don’t do all the hopping. Just jump to the note your marker is on and name it.
  • To make it harder, change the interval. Jump up in fourths or fifths. You may or may not want to even use the marker in this case.

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Giant Staff—Bean Bag Toss

For this activity, you need a giant staff. I made mine by using a Sharpie marker to draw five evenly spaced lines on a piece of heavy white fabric. The fabric was leftover from a friend’s IKEA curtains adventure, so the whole thing was free. Alternatively, you could check out the curtains/tablecloth section in Goodwill. No need to spend a lot of money on a nice, new piece of fabric.

What You Need:

  • A giant staff
  • A treble or a bass clef
    • It doesn’t have to match the size of the staff. Mine doesn’t.
  • Bean bag

Setup:

  • Lay out the staff on the floor and place your clef.

How to Play:

  • Stand together beneath your giant staff.
  • Mutually decide on your teacher handicap. For my beginners, I give a five second handicap. More advanced students get only one or two seconds.
  • The first player tosses the bean bag onto the staff. The student should call out the name of the note it lands on. The teacher silently counts out the handicap seconds and then calls out the name of the note it lands on.
    • Note: Because the spaces are so much wider than the lines, I tell them that if even a tiny corner is touching the line, they should call the line note, not the space note.
  • Whoever called the correct note first gets a point.
  • Take turns tossing until someone has 10 points. Adjust the handicap as needed to make sure the student wins.

Variations:

  • To make it easier, limit the number of notes you have to call to the ones the student has learned. If the bean bag lands on a note outside that range, have them say “Haven’t learned it!”
  • To make it harder, shorten the teacher handicap.
  • To make it even harder, use the game to practice intervals. Instead of naming the note it lands on, they should name the note a third above the note it lands on (or a fourth, fifth, whatever).
  • If the student is consistently throwing the bean bag way beyond the staff or aiming so that it always lands in the same place, take over all the throwing duties yourself. They shape up quickly under that threat.
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Giant Staff—Bean Bag Toss