Steady Beat Game: So I got this freebie TpT and used it with my younger classes to start talking about keeping a steady beat. I pretty much did it as is. With my older classes (4th & 5th graders) I didn’t necessarily show them the pdf, but the younger classes seemed to enjoy the visual and seeing whether they were right or wrong.
Simon Says: I also did this with my younger classes, because the steady beat game wouldn’t necessarily last an entire class period. It’s just like typical simon says, but I give everyone instruments and they have to repeat the short rhythmic phrases that I demonstrate. I also throw in random things like “stand up!” “spin around!” “put your instruments up in the air!” Then I let the kids be Simon. Younger classes generally are really big fans of this one! Great for following directions, obviously haha. And impulse control.
Chief: This is a game I played when I worked at a summer camp. One person is chosen to be the detective, whose role is to figure out who the chief is. The detective goes to stand off to the side with their back to the group. Then someone is chosen to be the chief — make sure you POINT to the kid who’s chief instead of calling their name, because then the detective will hear who it is (I’ve made this mistake tons of times). Everyone in the group follows the chief’s movements, who should change them every so often. We were using body percussion, and I prompted that they all had to keep a steady beat (since that was what we were working on) to make it harder for the detective to figure out who the chief was. The detective has 3 guesses to figure out who the chief is. Then whoever the chief was got to be the detective (if he or she wanted to) and I picked a new chief. I hope that explanation makes sense! I think this would also be cool to do if you had all of the kids with the same instruments — that would just make it a little more musical, and possibly reinforce the “steady beat” concept. Some goals here could be attention to a task/eye contact, following directions, and problem solving skills (how do you figure out who the chief is/how does the chief be as sneaky as possible?)
Find the Beat in the Song: This was the last “level” of my steady beat unit (if you want to call it a unit). I think I only did this with one class. First of all, I knew bringing instruments in would be pretty chaotic. In general, that class is pretty talkative, and just from experience I know how stimulating instruments can be. I can’t bring in 15 djembes, so we had to do some trading. I set up some rules before I handed out the instruments things like: 1) instruments must be quiet in between songs 2) we will be rotating with the instruments, so even if you don’t get what you want the first time, you will likely get it later 3) keep instruments at a reasonable volume. So, I gave them a list of songs to choose from, and I played their choices live while they played along to the song with the instruments, while continually prompting them to find the beat. This was really the main reason I did all this stuff about keeping a steady beat. I like to incorporate instruments, especially when I’m doing songs live, but I’ve noticed my kids don’t necessarily follow along to the beat of the song all the time. They like to do their own thing, which I totally support! However… it sometimes turns into kids getting aggravated at others because they’re disrupting the music. I hoped with this intervention they could improve their skills at playing along with songs. I played a few chords for an intro repeatedly until the group was on the same page, and sometimes in the middle I stopped to help them find the beat. As for the success of this intervention, I’m not too sure how well the concept sunk in. Maybe if I had worked on it longer with them, or even used live music, because I’ll admit that I can’t always keep a perfect tempo. I do hope to do a drum circle unit in the future, so maybe that will practice similar skills!
Pretty instrument-based week for ya!
– Arianna (: