The focus of this study was to create an age appropriate rhythm sequence to be used in the fifth and sixth grades. The need for resources for this age group has driven my project. This study seeks to establish three areas for rhythmic learning. First, the types of testing that facilitate the gathering of necessary data from students will be explored. Second, this study seeks to advance the pace of curriculum delivery by introducing the eighth note as the steady beat or pulse. Third, the influence of using movement and word association/mnemonics to teach rhythm is reviewed.
Sixteen music lessons comprised the implementation portion of this study. One fifth and sixth grade class were involved in data collection. Students in these classes experienced seven days of testing and nine days of regular classroom music instruction. The lesson plans used for the instructional sessions were designed to include techniques to enhance rhythmic learning. When rhythmic concepts were brought to focus during the lesson, it was typically done through movement and word associations.
Five forms of data collection were used in this study. They were: the Music Aptitude Profile, designed by Edwin Gordon; Reading Rhythms, Writing Rhythms, and Performing Rhythms, three teacher designed tests; and student journals for the collection of independent thoughts on teaching and learning behaviors.
Gordon’s MAP was given to students at the onset of the project. Scores from this standardized test were used to determine if the two classes were from similar populations and if the data could be combined into one group. A t-test was performed and the result was not statistically significant. Therefore, the data were combined for further statistical procedures.
The three teacher designed tests were given to both classes twice. First, as pre-tests, before any classroom music instruction from the project. Second, as post-tests, after the nine music sessions. I established a criterion level of 80% for achievement level for the three tests. After summarizing the results of the percentage of students at criterion for each test, it was decided to do further statistical testing. A Wilcoxon Matched-Pairs Signed-Ranks Test was performed to measure the improvement level of each test. It was found to be statistically significant that student scores improved from pre-test to post-test in the three areas of reading, writing, and performing rhythms.
Comments from the student journals allowed me to conclude that the students had positive feelings about this project, particularly the instructional sessions. The students also responded positively to the incorporation of the movement into the lessons.
The results of this study indicate that an age appropriate rhythm sequence can be incorporated into the fifth and sixth grades. The sequence can be developed and supported through appropriate testing to determine student’s needs, age appropriate materials and sources, and the use of movement and word associations to teach rhythm concepts.