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March 8, 2017

Rhythm Reading on the Move

Welcome!  It is my turn to blog for the Music Education Blogs 31 Days of Rhythm!  In honor of MIOSM (Music In Our Schools Month), a group of brilliant music teachers has come together to share 31 days worth of rhythmic goodies.  Here we are on Day 8.  So, let's get started!

When it comes to rhythm (okay, so when it comes to ANYTHING) I am all about movement!  And I am also pretty passionate about my students being rhythmically literate by the end of elementary school.  Sure, total music literacy is the goal, but rhythmic literacy is, in my opinion, the most transferable skill when it comes to students moving on to other areas of music study once they leave elementary school.  Tuneful singing and a love of music is my biggest goal, but whether you will be in choir, band or orchestra (which is my goal for all departing 5th graders) rhythm reading stays the most constant amongst the musical disciplines.

When it is time to read layered rhythms, students can become overwhelmed. You know the feeling!  "Mrs. Chandler!  It is so hard to concentrate on my own rhythm because I can HEAR OTHER PEOPLE and I am getting distracted!  Eek!".  Yes, this is challenging.  So, let's make it fun and motivating.  And, because it's me, let's make the lesson be one where we move, move, move!

This activity is best described in person, so I have made a video to tell you about the activity and its many expansions, followed by footage of real students in my classroom trying the activity for the first time ever.

This group of students is in 3rd grade.  They are currently reading sixteenth notes with ease, but for this activity, I limited it to quarter note, paired eighth notes, half notes and quarter rests.  As I explain in the video, I keep the actual rhythms simple.  The focus is on the layering of rhythms and the traveling from rhythm to rhythm using a steady beat.  There are SO MANY variations of this activity, which I explain in my video, but the demonstration is a short clip of the activity in its most basic (and very real, authentic, first-try-form).

Here is the video.  I hope that you enjoy it and I encourage you to leave comments and questions!  Please feel free to try this activity and send me feedback about how it worked in your classroom.  I would be THRILLED if you were to include a video of your students trying the activity.  You can do this!


  1. LOVE it! I am so going to use this. This would be great at the end of the school year to review in a fun, active way! Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. I love this and have done something similar but i love your version!!! Awesome activity... Going in the plans for next week!!

  3. I love this!! So fun. I am going to use this at my next theory night. And yes, I will send you video. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Love the way you people taught about rhythm and music in those 30 days.I wish I could also able to attend those classes along with these cute 3 graders 😍

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