Substitute Music Lesson ideas – Rhythm Games

When you are called for a substitute lesson you may not have all the equipment (instruments, percussion etc.) you have in your regular lessons and you can’t really know the actual level of the students and their abilities. One idea is to focus on rhythm. You only need a C.D. player but you can manage without. Here is a lesson plan that every teacher and every student could easily follow.


1. Listen to a popular song that the students know.

Can the students clap the rhythm of the song? It could be either an interesting introduction, the chorus or any other part the teacher finds appropriate. What instruments can they hear? Can they divide them in categories (strings, brass, percussion etc.)? You can also show them how to conduct the piece (for example four movements for 4/4) and how they can use their arms to show the change of volume.
For this activity you will need a C.D. player and the C.D. with the selected song.

2. Have students imitate your rhythm.

Teacher claps a one bar rhythm and students imitate directly after him/her. It is best to use a four beat bar for the first time. The rhythm pattern could be adjusted to the age and level of the students. If you have a rest in the fourth beat it is easier to give a cue.
You could also try to divide the group into teams. One team keeps a steady beat and the other imitates the teacher. The first team could keep the beat using a pencil on the desk and the other could clap. This way everyone can easily hear the steady beats because the sound is different. You could try a fast tempo if you have a good class.

3. Ask students to write a rap song.

This is something that it is easier for older students. Divide into small groups and ask each group to write lyrics. You could give them a theme, could be about school or anything you like, and you can also prepare something at home and demonstrate so as to give them an idea about rhyming. If you have recordings with appropriate lyrics for their age, it is also nice to have students listen to them.
At the end you can ask each group to present the rap song in this way, if you like:
one “sings” the lyrics and the other members of the groups keep the rhythm either by clapping or using objects or even with sounds that make with their mouth.

Submitted by Elizabeth Nakou

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