Here is an outline for teaching basic rhythm notation. It also opens all kinds of opportunities for improvisation and composition. I have chosen to use the names of creatures living in an ocean, but any other words with the same number of syllables could work.
Processes for beginning rhythm reading
- Change the rhythms. Let the students create their own rhythms in their own individual grids.
- Clap the rhythm (each syllable) while saying the names.
- Clap the rhythm (each syllable) while thinking the names.
- Replace the clapping with other body percussion or instruments.
- Have students create their own grids and their own rhythms.
- Trade grids and perform.
- Expand into much larger grids.
- Use percussion instruments for different lines.
- Divide into groups and create grooves using the grids.
- Additional rhythms pictured below are (from left to right): sea turtle, manatee, barracuda, and "m" (the rest). For the rest, you can simply draw a backwards number 3. It works well to give the students something to say for the rest. Then, eventually don't say anything but make the "m" motion. Or if you are using body percussion, create and action for the rest—as action that doesn't make any sound.