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CSR Music Outreach Program Part 4

Music rudiments and theory is best understood when applied musically. They can be in numerous forms. The most basic to begin with is rhythmic activities. Such activities are firstly, to apply music theory learned and to use them in a musical manner.

At the same time, there are additional musical traits to learn and develop along the way. Having a steady sense of beats/pulse in different tempos is crucial to appreciate and perform music. Imagine listening to a song that has irregular tempo? It would be difficult to enjoy and appreciate the song.

I turned a recent music theory and rhythmic activity into a musical drill game for the students. It is similar to the theory exercises on page 28 of My First Theory Book and is a simple formula.
  1. Create a two or four bar phrase on the board. Include some missing notes in these bars.
  2. Put an asterisk (*) where the missing notes are.
  3. Students are to fill in the missing notes or rests.
  4. Let students take turns coming to the board to do the theory drill games.
  5. The teacher has to create numerous phrases depending on the number of students in the class.
  6. Get creative as well. For example, in place of a missing minim note, instead of putting one asterisk (*), put two asterisks (* *) instead. Obviously, two crotchets are required.
  7. When the students have given all the correct answers to the phrases, conduct the entire class to rhythmically clap each phrase.
  8. It is necessary is to have students know that music must be continuous, beat after beat, from start till end. Each beat must be steady and must not quicken or slow down. Maintaining the beat is not easy for the young students.
  9. Guide the students and clap with them each exercise. Then have the students clap the exercise while you clap a steady pulse for them.

The next rhythmical exercise can be great fun for the entire class. Instead of clapping together for the entire rhythmic phrase, try separating them into two or more groups. Here is the formula for a four bar phrase:
  1. For a start, separate the students into two groups.
  2. Assign each group with the bars they are to clap.
  3. For example, Group A claps Bar 1 & 2. Group B claps Bar 3 & 4.
  4. Inform them that they are to clap the rhythmic phrases in a constant tempo one group after the other continuously.
  5. Set the tempo and count the beats to get them started.
  6. Lead each group through some practices on the bars they are to clap, if they cannot seem to get it together.
  7. If the students are brilliant, then throw a bit of challenge into the activity.
  8. Separate them into four groups each clapping an assigned bar (in the four bar phrase).
  9. Count off a tempo for them to get started. 
  10. If they show they can clap the phrases well, then quicken the tempo or slow it down for variety.
  11. Or, the teacher can create longer phrases up to 8 bars.
  12. Or, create more complicated rhythms with syncopation, dynamics, etc. For example, adding staccatos to some notes and see if the students demonstrate the effect correctly.

CSR Music Outreach Program 2014 Part 3

After learning some basic music rudiments and theory, application is always necessary. Application is the best way to know if the students understood what they have learned. It is also a way to revise and put music theory into practice.

The constant and frequent application of music theory will prepare them for learning instruments and reading music. In keeping with the prepared program, the students are to be capable of creating a 2 or 4 bar rhythmic phrase. The music program involves a little instrument learning when introducing musical tones/pitches. Only theory, group singing and percussion are the focus.

Eventually, the students are to be able to create an 8 bar rhythmic piece by the end of their first school term.

At this recent session, the lesson plan was to engage all the students in music theory drill activity.

Here are the steps taken:

1. Select a student to begin creating a 2 or 4 bar rhythmic pattern on the board.
2. Let the student decide on the time signature.
3. Get the entire class involved by asking them to check if the created rhythm is theoretically correct. If a student spots any mistake, ask that student to point out the mistake. Or, come to the board to make the correction.

 4. Ask this student to pick another schoolmate to come to the board to fill in the counts and clap the rhythm.


5. Next I began counting a constant tempo of 2 bars based on the time signature for the student to begin clapping the rhythm. Meantime, the entire class is obviously paying attention to the activity.

6. When completed, the entire class can be asked if they felt it was correctly done. Let any student point out any mistake. Or, discuss with the class how it was. Questions posed can be like these: Was the tempo constant? Did it flow well from start to end?

7. Next, involve the entire class in clapping the same rhythm.

8. Ask the student to select another schoolmate to begin creating another 2 or 4 bar rhythm pattern. Then, the entire process begins again.

9. Hopefully, as many as possible of the students get to take part in this theory drill activity. Young students like to be up on their feet actively. So, indulge them with learning as well.

Below is a photo of a student creating and filling in the counts of a 4 bar rhythm.

Here is a clip of students clapping the 4 bar rhythm pattern shown in the photo above.