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Percussion Playground – Exploring Rhythm in the Elementary Music Classroom

May 23, 2023 | Behavior Management, Music Teacher Activities, Tips and Tricks for Music Teachers, Tips for First Year Music Teachers

It’s crazy up here in the music room! Did you see my reel/meme last week about teaching in May? It was pretty funny, because it was SO TRUE! It talked about how it couldn’t get any worse . . . and then it got worser! Don’t you feel like this May has been worser than Mays in the past. I mean, the behavior is ridicuous!!! I’m pulling out all the stops (and the instruments) for the end of the year in my music classroom with some easy and magical activities. These activities are classroom tested for the end of the year, and THEY WORK!

Let the Percussion Party Begin! Grab ALL of your fantastic non-pitched percussion instruments and start making some rhythmic magic! From drums to tambourines, cowbells to shakers, let your students explore the many and varied delightful sounds they can create. This is their chance to become rhythm superheroes! Aaaaaand surprise your kiddos by introducing some music that they’ll truly love!

Here are 3 styles of music you might not think of when it comes to instrument play.

  1. Epic Video Game Beats: Calling all gamers! Bring the captivating energy of video game music into the rhythm classroom. Use some of the popular video game soundtracks that your students love, and invite them to jam along with their instruments. From the catchy tunes of Super Mario Bros. to the thrilling beats of Minecraft, the combination of gaming and percussion will have your students grooving in no time!
  2. Viral Meme Music: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Let’s embrace the infectious fun of viral meme music! Allow those meme-worthy tunes like “Never Gonna Give You Up” or “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (REALLY??),” to be a part of your curriculum and encourage your students to create their own percussion arrangements.
  3. Pop Tunes: Pop music is a universal language that gets everyone moving. Choose popular chart-topping hits that your students can’t resist singing and tapping their feet to. Let them bring those songs to life with their percussion instruments. From the infectious melodies of Taylor Swift to the groovy beats of Bruno Mars, your percussion playground will become a pop sensation!

So now you’re wondering what you should do with your percussion instruments. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Steady beat play along – this is especially great for your littles. Just play along to the beat, but vary the way you play the instrument. Model some new and different ways to play your hand drums or rhythm sticks.
  2. Rhythm reading magic – Break out your rhythm flash cards and have your students echo read or just plain read and play to the music.
  3. Creative Composes – Give your big kids a chance to write their own rhythms. Split them into partner teams. Each team comes up with a rhythm. Put on your catchy pop music, have each partner group say and play their rhythm, and have the rest of the class echo and play.

Using that epic video game music, exploring viral meme music, and rocking out to some pop tunes will create an unforgettable rhythmic adventure in your elementary music classroom, and give you the strategies you need to make it through the end of the year. Let the rhythm take center stage and watch your students unleash their creativity, laughter, and pure joy.

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