The next workbook I am sharing is for our Year 4 students. This is quite an ambitious six week course on rhythm, culminating in a four part rhythmic piece entitled “The Biggest Battle”. The students are in four teams, one on bass drums, one on djembes, one on tambourines and one on cymbals. I highlight the parts they are playing so they don’t get lost in the written score but insist they read the notation. I use one stand between two so they can all see. There is theory work in this unit and the end aim is to be more fluent than they were on reading rhythmic notation.
We use a wide variety of instruments including djembes, Chinese drums, untuned hand-held percussion instruments, bucket drums and even cups for when we do the “Cup Song” made popular from the film “Pitch Perfect”. They really love that activity! We also show them some videos by Stomp, the Blue Man Group and an interesting news piece about two Chinese gentlemen who make a vegetable orchestra! It’s all a lot of fun and the children really enjoy it. We do a lot of paired work, whole class work and largish group work but almost everything in this unit is led from the front. There is little to no composition in this unit – we come back to rhythm later on in the year and this scheme is to really get the children understanding how to read, write and perform rhythms on a variety of different instruments. We do some whiteboard work to get the children familiar with rhythmical notation – I have found that if children have experience and time drawing notes then they become a lot happier about reading and performing them. Today I got them to draw me a face on whiteboards made only of musical notes – they thought this was great and it was fun to show each other our silly rhythmical faces! We also play Rhythm Bingo that they have done before in Year 2, which they love playing and is great for quickly and fluently identifying rhythms.
We sing the note value song that I wrote and have linked to in the past. The children love singing this and clapping the right note values in the right places.
And it might seem a bit old-school but we even do rhythmic dictation and I give them a test at the end of the unit. No-one has cried or died and everyone has survived with a smiley face!
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