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21 The Coins of the Money Changers

I always found the rhythmic grouping of notes and rests very difficult to explain to students. How do you try and explain this concept to your theory and composition pupils?

Here’s an idea I stumbled on recently which seems to be helping: “money, money, money!”

• Before attempting to beam notes up into the correct groups, I first lay out a mixed selection of coins equivalent to four pounds sterling (I’m from England but the principle is the same whatever the coinage of your country. You can use real money or plastic play money).

• I then ask the pupil to organise the coins into four stacks equal to one pound, no more no less. The principle that this exercise demonstrates to them is that  [···]

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Here are some fun ideas to use as ice breakers or to brush up on rhythm skills in group lessons and workshops. I’ve even used them to kick off my teacher workshops, and they inspired very enthusiastic participation from all!

The Rhythm Ring

1)  Prior to class, set out a group of rhythm instruments in the middle of a circle of chairs or rug area where the students will be sitting. As they enter, explain that you will be passing the instruments out to those who are waiting patiently when class begins. (This will help with chaos control!)

2)  Ask the students to think of a rhythmic pattern in 4/4 time, and to be prepared to play it repeatedly, once they have been asked to join in the rhythm ring.  [···]

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What are you thankful for?  Here in the United States, we have set aside a day to remember our blessings., dating back to the pilgrims’ giving thanks for the food and provision they had after suffering a terrible winter of death and tragedy.

My family has its traditions; turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie (my favorite is apple), and delicious homemade bread.  We sit in the living room and sing songs related to Thanksgiving, harvest, and gathering together.  For the last few years, I’ve had the privilege of playing for such an event.

Though I am terribly busy with college studies and teaching, I wanted to write here about truly being thankful for our studios and the families that come our way.

What are you thankful for today? [···]

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