Using these rhythm cut-outs is a great hands-on way to teach rhythm. If students are confused about rhythm values, it could be that verbal explanations didn’t work. How many times have we thought students understood a concept only to discover later that they were really confused but didn’t want to tell you? I remember when I was a young piano student just nodding my head in agreement when I really had no idea what my teacher was talking about. I started parroting back her definition of time signatures because I was a good at memorizing. But I didn’t understand what I was saying and I didn’t want to admit I didn’t get it. I liked her and I wanted to make her happy!
One of the first and most important rhythm concepts students have understand is that a note with a dot is equal to three of the of the next shorter note. That is the key to understanding dotted half notes and dotted quarters. Theses rhythm shapes are great for that because they are proportional in size; so two eighths are the same size as one quarter.
Print this page on card stock and glue it to a sheet of thin craft foam before you cut them out. If you are crafty, even better is to glue the page to foam board (also called tag board), which will make them easier for students to move around but a lot hard to cut out!
I made this printable years ago, but today’s post is updated to make the notes easier to read. Plus, I fixed a note that was orientated wrong. So if you have the old file, you can replace it with this one.
Another way to explain fractions is to use my Rhythm Pizza printable. It is a very helpful first step to teaching rhythm values. Then to teach counting dotted notes, use this helpful visual, Rhythm in the Grid.
I know you can come up with many ideas for students to learn with these!
It’s not too late to play a Valentine music game or play some Valentine music. All of the material in this post are listed here on my page of free Valentine activities.
If you have middle or high school group lessons or a Valentine’s Day party, try this really fun Valentine game, Steal A Heart. I remade it a few years ago so that it is ink friendly. My teens love this game. Ledger line notes are included, but you don’t have to use them.
Valentine Card Rhythm Hunt is a fast game you can play with beginners who are learning rhythm. I’ve made this game for every holiday, so if you don’t get to play it now, check out the other versions.
There is a 4 page (folded) Valentine’s card with a note story and a sudoku rhythm game. This makes a nice card to give students the week of February 14.
If you want to see more Valentine music activities, check out my Valentine page! There are links to some Valentine music, too.
The Grand Staff from G to F
In this worksheet, students write the name of the note inside each note. You can also have them draw lines to the corresponding piano keys if you have time. It can even be inserted into their binder as a handy guide.
Typically, piano students are taught the notes on the treble staff and the bass staff. But many times students don’t realize the logical continuity of the grand staff. We know the grand staff is more than two separate entities, one for right hand and one for left. However, there is just so much to teach in so little time that it is easy to have short cuts to learning concepts in order to get everything covered. If you have ever had students who need to see the overall picture of the grand staff, this little work sheet might help. It shows clearly how the music alphabet continues from bass to treble staff.
Elizabeth Gutierrez suggests using A C E to learn the grand staff. My students find A C E easier than some other ways. It also helps them to learn the inner ledger lines. So I have students circle all the ACE’s on the grand staff. There is no reason you can’t use guide notes, A C E or FACE, or Every Good Boy Does Fine, or whatever you find successful with a particular student.
Learning note names will not necessarily make students good sight readers. Different parts of the brain are used to identify notes than to actually sight-read notes at the piano. However, learning notes will help our students become overall better musicians. Learning note names can be difficult for some students, but we have to keep trying!
Here is a little tidbit for your students. The phrase GRAND STAFF starts with G and ends with F. How is that for a coincidence!
These rhythm flash cards are about the size of a deck of playing cards. They are small enough for students to hold in their hands to play card games. A variety of levels are included, from beginning to late intermediate, whole notes to dotted eighths and sixteenths.
There are 6 pages of flash cards in this printable. The last page is a colorful graphic designed for the back of the cards so they are more fun. You can print only the pages of the cards you need. You will have to reinsert the graphic for the back of the cards into your printer. If you are not sure how to do this, look at the FAQ on this blog. Scroll down until you see “How to Print On Both Sides of Flash Cards.”
To keep the pattern for the back of the cards lined up evenly and to look nice, I didn’t make a cutting line all the way across the page. Instead, there is a thin white line to cut on.
If you are not going to print the colorful graphic for the back, take a ruler and connect the dotted lines on the front (the black and white side) of the cards before you cut them out.
For my young children, I made two sets of the first page (the easy patterns) so we could play “Go Fish”. I also played matching the cards with them, because matching these patterns is often a challenge for young beginning students. They also love to play the patterns on rhythm instruments.
With older students, we simply tap some cards at the end of lessons or string them together to make a phrase and tap. Sometimes I put a few of the cards on a table and one person taps while the other guesses the correct pattern.
These cards are very useful as a review for the bonus question of the Texas theory test. They are also helpful when a student is first learning eighth notes.
I am certainly open to suggestions on more ways to use these. If you have a good game or idea, please leave a comment here to share with others!