Rhythm and Beat
In this lesson, students will train their ears to identify a song by its rhythm and beat. Students will use body percussion to learn the melody of famed New Orleans songs. They will come together in an ensemble to demonstrate their understanding of rhythm and beat.
- Identify the time signature.
- Identify a song that is being played by listening for the rhythm and beat.
- Perform the melody of a New Orleans song.
- Perform as an ensemble.
National Core Arts Standards
Common Core State Standards
SL.3.4 Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
SL.4.4 Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
SL.5.4 Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
Students should have some familiarity with body percussion, the musical staff, and reading note values. Teachers should review the lesson resources, media, and websites prior to launching the lesson. Review the Music and Sensory Integration Lesson Adaptions and Adaptive Movements to better serve students with disabilities.
- Piano, wind instruments
- PRESENTATION: Rhythm and Beat
- VIDEOS: “This Little Light of Mine” | “Just a Closer Walk with Thee | “Bourbon Street Parade” | “Bye and Bye” | “Louis Armstrong – When the Saints Go Marching In”
- SHEET MUSIC: “This Little Light of Mine” | “Just a Closer Walk with Thee | “Bourbon Street Parade” | “By and By” | “When the Saints Go Marching In”
- Play the song, “This Little Light of Mine” on slide 3 of the presentation, Rhythm and Beat. Draw students’ attention to the different rhythms and beats in the song. Show students how to recreate the rhythm and beat using body percussion. Ask: What is a rhythm? What is a beat?
- Display the word “Time Signature” on slide 4 of the presentation, Rhythm and Beat. Tell students that the time signature tells us how the music is to be counted. On the staff, the two numbers stacked on top of one another represent the time signature. The top number indicates how many beats are in the measure and the bottom number indicates what kind of note to count.
- Demonstrate for students how to write time signature (2/4, 3/4, 4/4 – also called “Common Time”). Define each time signature and allow time for students to practice on their own.
- Tell students that today they are going to listen for the rhythm and beat in New Orleans-style music. Display the word “Rhythm” from slide 5 of the presentation, Rhythm and Beat. Tell students that rhythm is a series of notes in a pattern and is established by the time signature. Rhythm consists of several important elements: measure, bar, pitch, count, note, intensity, meter, tempo, phrase, and accent. Model for students how to repeat a rhythm using an instrument, voice, or body percussion.
- Display the word “Beat” from slide 5 of the presentation, Rhythm and Beat. Tell students that the beat is the steady pulse (heartbeat) of a song. Model for students how to create a beat using an instrument, your voice, or body percussion.
- Replay the New Orleans song, “This Little Light of Mine.” Ask: How do rhythm and beat work together? What is a time signature on the musical staff?
- Tell students they are going to practice identifying rhythm and beat. Bring students together in a circle to explain the “Rhythm & Beat Game.” Share the following steps: First, listen as the teacher performs an original New Orleans song on an instrument, or listen to an audio excerpt. Second, listen to the melody of the song. Third, students will mimic the melody of the song with an instrument, voice, or using body percussion. Fourth, identify the New Orleans song.
- Replay the song “This Little Light of Mine” to practice the steps with students. Distribute handouts, Sheet Music: “This Little Light of Mine,” to students.
- Share the following video resources on slide 7 of the presentation, Rhythm and Beat, with students. Have students listen and follow the “Rhythm & Beat Game” steps to identify and mimic the melody. Allow students sufficient time to practice each song’s melody. Tell students to practice at home and rehearse at school. Ensure each student has the sheet music/lead sheet for every song.
- After students have had time to learn each melody, bring them together to make an ensemble. Tell students they are ready to perform New Orleans-style music!
- Assess students’ knowledge of rhythm and beat by having them select one of the New Orleans-style songs to play on an instrument. Ask students to respond to the following question in written or verbal form: What are rhythm and beat? How were you able to establish the melody of the song? How did the song feel when you played it on your instrument? If you reflect on your performance, how do you think you can improve?
Used with permission. Portions of this work are based on the National Core Arts Standards Copyright © 2015 National Coalition for Core Arts Standards/All Rights Reserved – Rights Administered by SEADAE.
© Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved.
Louis Ford, Curriculum Developer and Music Artist Liaison
JoDee Scissors, Content Producer
Meredith Sharpe, Adaptations Writer