Teaching rhythm to students can be a challenging experience. Some students just seem to get it, some students really struggle to even feel or keep a steady pulse. Some students are great at copying rhythms, others like to work it out for themselves. Some understand rhythm best when it's explained metrically, others like to think in terms of "TAs" and "TITIs".
Whichever method you choose to use to teach rhythm, there are some great resources available right now for you to use in your studio. Here are my favourite three.
1. Rhythm Cup Explorations
Lots has been said already online about Wendy Stevens' "Rhythm Cup Explorations" series, so rather than repeat, here's a link to a couple of great reviews by teachers actually using this book in their studios:
Also check out Wendy's Rhythm Manipulations and Rhythm Menagerie - more great resources from this fantastic teacher.
Wendy has recently released backing tracks to go along with the Rhythm Cup series called Rhythm Cup Explorations BEATS! You can hear samples and find out how to download it by clicking here.
Here's Wendy's video about Rhythm Cups.
2. Rhythm Bootcamp
Philip Johnston has done it again! After the success of his Scales Bootcamp (see my previous post: How to make piano scales fun), Philip has just released a similar book for drilling rhythms.
Like Scales Bootcamp, the concept of this book is to drill rhythms repetitively, gradually increasing the level of challenge. It's a bit like a video game, but on paper. Completing the next level of difficulty unlocks the next level of challenge, etc.
I only hope that Philip plans to turn this into an actual app someday!
For more information, head to his website - InsideMusicTeaching.com. Or buy it from Amazon below.
3. Rhythm Apps on iPad/iPhone
Speaking of apps, there are plenty of great online resources for learning rhythms. The advantage of using an iPad, of course, is instant engagement with students. Because the apps are designed to keep increasing the level of challenge, interested students will keep pushing themselves to learn more.
This app has heaps of built-in rhythm patterns in all sorts of meters at at different levels of difficulty. I like the simple, clean screen layout with lots of customisation. Students tap rhythms right on the screen (one and two-handed) and get instant feedback. It even has example rhythms from some of the big classical composers built-in! Read more about this in my article here.
The title stands for: The Most Addicting Sheep Game. If you have students who can't seem to feel a steady pulse, check out this addictive app. It involves helping a sheep jump over obstacles and levels, a bit like the old 2D "Mario" games, but with this one, all the jumping (tapping on the screen) has to happen in-time to music! Incredibly addictive as new levels unlock every time a student is successful.
Musition, the guys who brought you Auralia, have a rhythm app that not only quizzes rhythms but has lessons about how to understand them. Great for students who are self-disciplined enough to do their own study. It includes 18 levels of rhythms with the top levels being incredibly challenging for any level of musician.