I like to begin my kindergarten classes each year with a lot of singing and a focus on steady beat. We’ll be using steady beat for the entire year in many different ways so I prefer to focus on this skill from the very start. And since our kindergarten curriculum begins writing skills immediately, it has worked well for me to also introduce written representation of beat as well.
A great steady beat introduction is a video – “Drummer Pete Keeps a Steady Beat” by Randy Sauer. We begin by keeping the beat gently on our knees, then I move the beat to my shoulders, nose, head, etc while the class follows. Eventually we can use small hand instruments (shakers, tambourines, rhythm sticks). Kinders love this video and you can use it for so many activities! You can check out the many other things Randy has at www.jamminrandy.com.
For visual representation of beat I used an image from MusicWorks 1 and worked it up as an ActivInspire flipchart for Promethean products:
We practice keeping the beat and counting out loud as I point to each figure on the screen. A great way to focus the class is to tell them that if they give their best effort and clap well, we’ll use egg shakers for the rest of the practice! The outcome I’m looking for is:
- Accuracy at 3 different tempos (in the moderate range)
- Starting securely
- Ending accurately
Now we begin to mix things up a bit:
I used the same image, but altered it by placing white squares over some of the figures. I’ve found this step needs no lengthy explanation – simply ask “What do you think happens when you don’t see a drummer in a box?”. I like to have students count to 4 as they are clapping each set, one at a time. We whisper on empty boxes.
Now comes their first composition:
This interactive exercise allows students to take turns at the interactive board. They have one “set” of 4 beats and can put drummers in as many or few as they like. The class performs each set, or you can call on individuals or small groups.
Typically, I’ll use the Drummer Pete video for two classes, focus on the first page of the flipchart for one, then spend two classes on the remaining portions. I do two assessments: one for the first set of 8 and the second for the composition.
This file can be opened using Promethean ActivInspire. If you are using SMART Notebook or other interactive whiteboard software, please use this CFF download. Unfortunately, NotebookExpress does not recognize either file type at this time.