8/31/10

I've got rhythm

The moving truck is long gone. My piano is acclimating to the humidity. At least half of my boxes are unpacked. I have a couple of new piano students, and my piano room is pretty much set up. I am back! And this week we are going to be discussing Rhythm.

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We have had many readers tell us they are interested in talking about how to teach rhythm. A few readers particularly mentioned eighth notes. I think this is a great topic and hope to have lots of discussion about this. (Don't forget to take our poll this week!)

A few thoughts upfront about teaching rhythm to beginners:

Rhythm can be pretty tricky for some students! I have had many a student (as I am sure we all have) who just can't get it. They can't feel the rhythm very easily and have trouble getting the counting right. This can be mucho frustrating and hard to listen to week after week, am I right? (Takes me back to a favorite college music professor who loved to sing "I've got rhythm" while clapping his hands and tapping his feet completely out of sync with each other.)

I think it's important to help our students internalize the beat. Not only should they be able to recite the names of the notes and how many counts each receives, but more importantly should be able to feel it. So how can we help our beginning students understand and feel the rhythm?
  • using a metronome?
  • tapping a foot?
  • counting aloud?
  • listening to a waltz to internalize the beat in simple triple meter?
  • {dancing around the room to said waltz??} - who of us are brave enough?? :)
  • listening to a march to hear the strong and weak beats in simple quadruple meter?
I found a great article about teaching rhythm and meter that said, "Human speech, poetry and music moves in patterns of twos and threes." And isn't it so true - this basic rhythm is so natural and innate in so many areas of our lives - how can we tap into that to get our students to really feel it?

What ways of teaching rhythm have you discovered to be successful with your music students?

1 comment:

Jentry said...

I have my students march. I start with them marching and playing two marches per bow. Then I start adding it to other pieces (they have to know them really well). Then we start adding it to new pieces. I have it easy and teach the violin so their feet are free. I think that marching next to the piano bench and singing would have the same effect.

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