Primary instructor with opportunity to collaborate with the music teacher
Developing Arts Literacies:
Understanding Genres, Analyzing and Evaluating - Critique
Composing and Planning
This lesson introduces students to rhythm concepts, including the names and symbols associated with music notation. Students will fill in a chart that outlines names and meanings of rhythmic musical symbols. Then, using these symbols, they will clap rhythm sequences and compose their first compositions. They will also compare these rhythmic sequences to math concepts.
Apply math concepts in fractions to musical notation recognition and rhythm execution
Clap rhythm patterns using the above concepts
Compose an eight-measure rhythmic composition that requires them to use all of the above concepts
Recognize and identify the following musical symbols and concepts:
Quarter rest, Quarter note, Half note, Half rest, Pair of eighth notes, Measures, Bar lines, Double bar lines, 4/4 time signature Teaching Approach
What You'll Need
You will need to know how to disconnect the right speaker during the lesson. If you are not sure how to do this, please consult your school’s media specialist.
Teachers should be familiar with musical notation and the relationship between notes/rests and fractions. Teachers should familiarize themselves with teaching rhythm and notation using the following sources:
Rockin’ Rhythm Raps: A Sequential Approach to Rhythm Reading (book and CD package). Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Publications.
Web: Prior Student Knowledge
Students should have basic familiarity of the concepts of:
They should also have a solid understanding of fractions.
Make an overhead transparency of Rockin' Rhythm Raps, pages 23-24.
Students with visual impairments or disabilities may need modified handouts or texts.
Resources in Reach
Here are the resources you'll need for each activity, in order of instruction.
1. Ask students what they already know about rhythm. Have them brainstorm words associated with rhythm and write these on the board. Talk about the fact that rhythm is important in music because it provides structure to the melody or background accompaniment
2. Pass out the The column on the left should contain a drawing of the symbol. The column on the right should signify the duration of the note or notes in a whole number or a fraction. Notation worksheet located within the Resource Carousel and ask students to fill in any information they already know. (This chart should be kept in the students’ notes, and students should add to it as new rhythm concepts are introduced.)
3. Complete the chart and review it as a class. The teacher should demonstrate how to represent the length of each rhythmic element visually in a clapping sequence, such as in the following examples:
Quarter note: clap
Quarter rest: hands out
Half note: clap and hold with forward movement to represent the second beat
4. Have students read and clap out rhythm patterns from Display the overhead produced from Rockin' Rhythm Raps. Rockin' Rhythm Raps, pages 23-24. The first time, the teacher should clap the rhythms with the students. The students then clap out the rhythms again with the aid of the solo and rap accompaniment from the CD.
Finally, turn off the right-hand speakers so that the class claps alone with the accompaniment.
Repeat this exercise as needed until the class can clap the exercise with the accompaniment without the solo or the teacher.
1. Using fractions in math, discuss the math concepts in notation. Distribute fraction manipulatives and explain the relationship between notes/rests and fractions. For example, 1 whole fraction circle is equal to 2 half circles, just as 1 whole note is equal to 2 half notes. Show and have students explore the following relationships:
1 whole note = 2 half notes = 4 quarter notes
1 half note = 2 quarter notes = 4 eighth notes
1 quarter note = 2 eighth notes = 4 sixteenth notes
1 whole rest = 2 half rests = 4 quarter rests
2. Have students practice mathematical equations using music notes. Write the following equations on the board and have students work in pairs with their manipulatives to solve the equations. (Students can answer in notes or numbers.)
half note + quarter note + quarter note = _____
½ + ¼ + ¼ = _____
whole note – half note = _____
1 - ½ = _____
( ½ )
3. Have students create an equation for peers to solve. Working independently or in pairs, students should create an equation using notes. Students should double check their equations, then switch with another student and try to solve each other’s equations.
1. Explain the 4/4 time signature. Explain that a time signature is a sign that shows how many beats should be in each measure. For a 4/4 time signature, each measure has 4 beats, and each beat is a quarter note. Thus, each measure should have the equivalent of 4 quarter notes. Ask students what else they could use to create a complete measure in 4/4 time (1 whole note, 2 half notes, 1 half note and 2 quarter notes, etc.).
2. Have students compose an eight-measure rhythmic composition using the assignment Have the students draw two parallel lines across a plain piece of paper in a landscape position. Show them how to divide these two lines into four measures each. Checklist handout located within the Resource Carousel. (Note: Since this exercise deals only with rhythmic elements, it is not necessary for students to draw the full, five-lined musical staff.)
1. Have students check each other’s work. Have students pair up or get into small groups. Ask them to clap out other students’ compositions to make sure each measure has four beats.
2. Have the students copy their compositions onto an overhead projector sheet. The class should clap out each student's composition.
3. Finish the lesson with a discussion of what students have learned. Remind them that rhythm is the foundation of all music, from Mozart to modern-day rappers. Ask them questions such as:
What is 4/4 time?
Explain what a whole note, whole rest, half note, half rest, quarter note and quarter rest mean/do.
Why is rhythm important?
Assess your student's work using the
Assessment Rubric located within the Resource Carousel.
Throughout the nation, standards of learning are being revised, published and adopted. During this time of transition, ARTSEDGE will continually add connections to the Common Core, Next Generation Science standards and other standards to our existing lessons, in addition to the previous versions of the National Standards across the subject areas.
The Arts Standards used in ARTSEDGE Lessons are the 1994 voluntary national arts standards. The Arts learning standards were revised in 2014; please visit the
National Core Arts Standards ( http://nationalartsstandards.org) for more. The Kennedy Center is working on developing new lessons to connect to these standards, while maintaining the existing lesson library aligned to the Common Core, other state standards, and the 1994 National Standards for Arts Education.
Lessons connect to the National Standards for Arts Education, the Common Core Standards, and a range of other subject area standards.
Common Core/State Standards
Select state and grade(s) below, then click "Find" to display Common Core and state standards.
National Standards in Other Subjects
Math Standard 2:
Understands and applies basic and advanced properties of the concepts of numbers
Math Standard 9:
Understands the general nature and uses of mathematics