Rhythm Building Blocks

Rhythm Building Blocks

 

Most of the kids love building things. Here’s a way to practice rhythms and build at the same time.

What You Need:

  • Blocks, Keva planks, Legos, or something similar
  • 1 die
  • Paper
  • Writing Utensil

Setup:

  • Write out the numbers 1-6. Assign a note value to each number. I do this on the fly because it varies depending on how advanced the student is.

How to Play:

  • The student rolls the die. She then composes a one measure rhythm in 4/4 time and writes it on the paper. The rhythm must use the note value corresponding with whatever number she rolled. Other than that one note, she can use whatever note values she wants.
  • She counts and claps her measure. If she gets it right, she earns one block and begins a structure.
  • She rolls again and composes a second measure based on her roll. She can earn one block for counting and clapping just that rhythm. Then she can earn two more blocks by counting and clapping both of her measures in sequence.
  • Continue on. The student will earn progressively higher numbers of blocks each time.

 

 

Target Practice (How to Drill Anything)

Target Practice (How to Drill Anything)

This activity requires a giant target. This may come with an archery set, but mine is a homemade job made out of an old curtain otherwise destined for the trash, a sharpie marker, and some spray fabric paint, which I didn’t even bother to try to keep in the lines. Regardless of how professional (or not) yours looks, the kids will have a good time with this.

What You Need:

  • Giant Target
  • Beanbag
  • Flashcards for whatever you want to drill

Setup:

  • Lay the target out on the floor.
  • Place a flashcard on each color of the target.

How to Play:

  • The student tosses the beanbag onto the target. I vary the starting position based on the throwing ability of the kid.
  • Pick up the card for the color the beanbag landed on and have the student answer it. Replace the card and go again.
  • Some kids will like to keep score. If so, give them 1 point for a bull’s eye, 2 points for the next color, etc. The goal is to keep the score as low as possible. If they are motivated by competition, the teacher can play too. In that case, miss some of the answers and offer them a point off their score tally if they catch you making a mistake.

The Treat Game (How to Drill Anything)

Treat Game (How to Drill Anything)

I don’t generally hand out candy at lessons. But for the occasional holiday I will make an exception. This year it was Valentine’s Day, since the kids around here no longer get any candy at school. But there is no reason why this has to be a Valentine’s Day game.

What You Need:

  • Flashcards for whatever you want to drill
    • I did it with cards with the note names on them. Depending on the student’s level, they either had to find the note on the keyboard or on the staff or play a major chord based on that note or play a major scale based on that note.
  • A handful of extra flashcards that say “Be careful! Answer the next one right to earn a treat!”
    • It is important that these cards feel the same as the original flashcards: same size, same paper weight, etc.
    • If you are using pre-made, laminated flashcards, you could even use a whiteboard marker to write it on a few of the cards.
  • An opaque bag or box to hold your flashcards.
  • A bowl of small treats.

Setup:

  • Shuffle your flashcards (all of them) and place them in the bag or bowl.

How to Play:

  • The student draws a card.
  • If it’s a regular card, they answer the question. If it’s a treat card, keep it in hand, but draw another card and answer that one. If they get it wrong, toss the treat card back in the bag. If they get it right, set the treat card to the side.
  • When all the cards in the box are gone (or you run out of time), count up the number of treat cards you have on the side. Choose that many small treats out of the bowl.

 

Race Across the Keyboard

Depending on the level of the student, you can use this quick game to drill notes on the keyboard, notes on the staff, or intervals.

What You Need:

  • Two Game Pieces
  • Flashcards with the note names (if you are drilling notes on the keyboard)
  • Flashcards with notes on the staff (if you are drilling notes on the staff)
  • A book of sheet music (if you are drilling intervals)
  • A die (if you are drilling intervals)

Setup:

  • None

How to Play:

  • Place your two game pieces on the lowest key on the keyboard.
  • If you are drilling notes on the keyboard:
    • Take turns drawing the note name flashcards. Each time, move your game piece up to the next instance of the note on your card.
  • If you are drilling notes on the staff:
    • Take turns drawing the notes on the staff flashcards. Each time, name the note on your card and move up to the next instance of that note name on the keyboard.
  • If you drilling intervals:
    • Find a piece of sheet music, preferably one that uses lots of different intervals.
    • Take turns rolling the die. Count that many measures into the music.
    • Find the largest interval in that measure. Move your game piece up by the same interval.
  • First one to the top of the keyboard wins.

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Roll-A-Drawing (How to Drill Anything)

Here’s a simple way to make things more fun during the lesson. I’ve provided a link to the three printables, I used, but the Internet is full of such drawing dice games, and you could use any of them.

What You Need:

  • Blank paper
  • Pencils
  • Die
  • A printable guide for a dice drawing game, such as Roll-a-Snowman or Roll-a-Face or Roll-a-Monster.
  • A list of what musical challenges go with each number on the die. You can put anything you want to drill here. For example, my list said:
    • 1 = Note name challenge
    • 2 = Rhythm challenge
    • 3 = Improv duet
    • 4 = Sight reading challenge
    • 5 = Review song
    • 6 = Freebie

Setup:

  • None

How to Play:

  • The student rolls the die. They must complete the challenge for that number first. Afterwards, they can draw the corresponding snowman, face, monster, or whatever.
  • The teach plays too, so you can see more than one result of the drawing game, but the teacher doesn’t need to complete challenges. (It takes too long that way.)

 

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