In a Band Directors Talk Shop survey, we asked readers, “What is the best phrase, analogy, or activity you’ve ever heard/used regarding the teaching of rhythmic precision?” With hundreds of responses to the survey, we came up with this categorized list of your answers. Thanks so much to all of our readers who took the time to fill out the survey. Keep an eye out for more Readers’ Collaborative Posts in the future!
- Breaking the rhythm down to the skeleton beat/pulse/subdivision
- Constant metronome during class with subdivisions
- Count the rhythms and subdivisions out loud (with numbers) and clap where the notes begin.
- Have half of the group count the rhythms out loud or clap the steady beat while the other half “ta’s” their parts.
- Have half the group subdivide on ch, ch, while the other group plays. Have them verbalized on syllables that can be stylized.
- Everyone is responsible for the pulse!
- Focus on inner beats.
- “Bopping”– Playing the first beat of every measure so that it always lines up with the conductor and gets the students to look ahead.
- Bopping- play only the attack of the note.
- Play your part staccato, so you hear each person’s entrance and line them up
- Sight-reading factory and count/ tap/clap.
- Everyone must be on the tempo train. Like stepping onto a moving train, it’s easiest for rhythm to fall into place when everyone is actively engaged in counting.
- Real counting, with numbers. None of the “words that match rhythms.”
- Ta te takateke etc. Vocalize the rhythm.
- Have them play anything with a rock beat. It gives the drummers a chance to have fun and also teaches the kids to subdivide.
- Good bands start together-great bands end together.
- “Day-to-day” – for dotted-eighth/sixteenth.
- If you can say it, you can play it.
- It’s not right until you can’t play it wrong.
- Play like a clock. It doesn’t slow down or speed up.
- Notes that touch rests are longer than notes that touch notes.
- On or off the beat…no approximations.
- The metronome is your new BFF.
- Rhythm is black and white; there is no gray area.
- Sound like an army marching, not raindrops on a roof.
- Play your rhythms until the next note or silence.
- If it isn’t precise, it sounds like noodles hitting the wall each at their own time. Subdivide!!! Stay together, and you will make music rather than noodles tossed at the wall.
- I use “blocks” of time on the Smartboard, show how they’re subdivided. Sometimes I like to project a copy of the score so the kids can see how everything must line up precisely.
- I use “focused repetition.”
- I use a combination of ‘scat’ sounds and Kodaly or Eastman counting. My kids are fluent in all three by the end of the year.
- Teach rhythm every day.
- Use techniques such as having a group of students play a dotted-eighth note followed by a sixteenth note perfectly when set to a series of repetitive sixteenth is by another group of students.
- Use of the Berryman “Pie Game” as a mnemonic aid for younger counters.
- Rhythmic precision often gets cleaner with matched articulation. We identify not only length of note but how we’re going to “say” the note.
- Pulsing rhythmic counting with down press up foot tap.
- Ta ka di mi
- Eastman counting system (1 ta te ta)
- The concept of vertical precision.
- Tonguing is key.
- Vertical alignment. Get rid of the noise.
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