How to Teach Rhythm Reading

Understanding how to perform a rhythm and knowing how to teach a rhythm are two completely separate skill sets. To learn how to teach rhythm, it is important to start with the most basic elements of rhythm and gradually add on in a progressive and integrated manner.

Step 1:   Use your metronome to keep your beat steady. Start your metronome. Pick a tempo that isn't too slow or too fast.

Step 2:   Play the quarter notes illustrated on every beat. Clap along with the click. This is your quarter note and your beat.

Step 3:   Play the half notes illustrated on every other beat. Tap on every other beat to establish the half note.

Step 4:   Play a dotted half note every three beats. Clap on every third beat to play a dotted half note.

Step 5:  Clap on every fourth beat to play a whole note. Now the student has played all the basic note values in music and can begin to read music.

Step 6:  Teach the student advanced note values as they are able to, on a continual basis.

Download the reference sheet available in the list of resources to see what all of the note values look like. If at first the student has difficulty clapping the beat, take the tempo a little slower. It is important that the student has a firm grasp of the quarter note before moving on to other note values. The dot on an end of a note tells you to add half the value of the original note to the duration. Since a half note is worth two beats, a dotted half note would be worth three. A whole note looks like a half note without the stem coming off the side of the note. Make learning more interesting by allowing the student to use drums or rhythm sticks instead of clapping. Don't push a student forward until they have demonstrated knowledge of each step. Go step by step through this how-to. Avoid the tendency to move too quickly.


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