Teaching Rhythm in Beginning Band

May 1, 2012 / By: Amalie Niethammer

The intent of this paper is to offer teachers of beginning band students an alternative to teaching rhythm through traditional methods utilizing methods already employed in the elementary music classroom. It is hoped this paper will create an awareness of the benefits of beginning band instruction seeking to build upon what students have already learned in their general music classroom about reading rhythm. By students making the connection between how they learned rhythm in general music and how they study rhythm in beginning band, directors may achieve or maintain a higher retention rate. 

The author reviewed resources on the elementary music methods of Kodály, Gordon, Dalcroze Eurhythmics, Orff-Schulwurk, and the traditional counting method and how they can be successfully utilized in beginning band. Through this research, the author found three common beliefs that impact the approach that should be taken in teaching rhythm to beginning band students. First, students should experience the instrument through experimentation and improvisation before learning the corresponding notation.  Second, movement can help solidify a rhythmic feel and understanding for students. Finally, rhythm should be presented in pattern chunks instead of a single note out of context. The author also found that students should be taught the universally accepted numbers system, but only after mastering a rhythmic feel and understanding.