My first step with my students for our emphasis on Feeling the Pulse for this month is making sure that they understand the difference between rhythm and pulse. I want them to grasp the concept of the pulse being a steady ongoing beat, regardless of the rhythms that are played. I refer to pulse as “the underlying heartbeat of the music.” Here’s the quick activity that I’m planning to do at the start of each lesson next week:
Have a Heart – Feel the Pulse!
1. Print off one of these heart sheets.
2. Have the student sit on the floor and give them a handful of pennies.
3. Set the metronome at 80 and explain that this is the underlying heartbeat of the music (a.k.a. the pulse).
4. Instruct the student to place pennies in each heart according to how many notes they hear you play for each beat (for example, a quarter note would get one penny, two eighth notes would get two pennies, four sixteenth notes would get 4 pennies, etc.). You can tailor the complexity of the rhythms to the level of the student.
5. Play a 4-beat rhythm pattern. Check the student for accuracy, and then do the next row. Repeat for the third row. If the student demonstrates proficiency, increase the length of the rhythm pattern to two or three rows at a time.
I had my student James test drive this to make sure it would work, and so I could post a demo photo.
I’m also instituting a special deal with my students – every time they play a piece with perfect pulse at their lesson, I will give them one heart (i.e. I’ll draw a heart at the top of their assignment sheet). If they sight-read a piece with perfect pulse, they will receive three hearts! At the end of February, we’ll tally up the hearts and if they have 20 or more they will get a sheet music of their choice from my files for free!
I’m excited to see how things go this month, because my students can sure use a lot of reinforcement in this area! Do you have an idea that we can use for next week’s Fresh and Fun! idea? You can post it in the comments or send me an e-mail, so that I can post it next week for all of us to try. Same goes for any other suggestions, links, guest posts, etc. Let’s make this a group effort! 🙂