Movement Patterns to Help Teach Music

Several movement patterns help teach concepts in music that deal with rhythmic aspects of music, such as finding the beat, conducting, using body percussion and playing rhythms in tempo. With music, you often must learn to do the same thing in several different ways. Learning how to keep track of rhythm and patterns will greatly improve your rhythmic skills.


One of the most difficult concepts to teach is the concept of the beat, or pulse, in music. An effective activity is to have students stand and march around the room in time. The teacher can march with the students, making it possible for students to find the beat of the music through physical action. For the best results, practice this with several different pieces of music that have different tempos.


Teach basic drum rudiments by using the right and left hands to play bongos or some other two-headed drum such as congas. A basic rhythm pattern that involves movement is a paradiddle in which you alternate with the following hand strikes: R-L-R-R, L-R-L-L. The "R" indicates a right-hand strike while the "L" indicates a left-hand strike. There are 40 basic drum rudiments that can help increase skills and teach several different movement patterns.

Body Percussion

Body percussion is used in Orff-Schulwerk, a method of teaching music and movement, to teach children how to play fast rhythms. Have the student hit his left shoulder with his right hand, then alternate with the other hand. Then add to the sequence. Have the child tap the right thigh with the right hand, and then the left thigh with the left hand. After that, the right-hand hits the outside of the right thigh, the left-hand hits the outside of the left thigh, followed by stomping with the right and left foot. Start over again at the top and attempt to keep the rhythm steady. Each body part will produce a different sound. Have students start at different times to create complex rhythms.


Demonstrate conducting patterns and teach them to students to help them learn how music ebbs and flows between measures. Since you have already taught the beat, have the students start with a 4/4 pattern. This pattern starts with a hand just below the nose. Bring the hand straight down to indicate the first beat, move to the right in a bouncing motion to indicate the second beat, bounce the hand across the chest to indicate the third beat and then bounce up to the fourth beat right below the nose. Teach all the major conducting patterns.


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