I recently posted about a worksheet I created using alternate rhythmic notation to help students learn to follow and keep track of beats. https://orchestrateacher.blogspot.com/2019/08/pre-note-reading-activity.html
This activity worked so well in my classroom. I did this with my 2nd year players on their first day of playing and it was a perfect way to help them focus and remember how to subdivide. We tried to clap 'line A' without a metronome and quickly realized we were rushing like crazy, so I started a metronome and we practiced staying together as a class. After practicing to maintain a steady beat and follow the code on the worksheet, we took it one step further and assigned each section a different line on the page. The class had to keep their own part together while hearing other parts going at the same time. (How many times do students get lost because they're listening to rhythms in other sections?)
After this activity, students sight-read some of their new music. I couldn't believe how much better they were at sight-reading after practicing rhythm beforehand. I wanted MORE rhythm code activities!
Here's why I think rhythm code helps students:
- Rhythm code - or alternative notation - simplifies rhythm and uses few symbols. Students have less to keep track of at once.
- Rhythm code helps students maintain a sub-divided beat because each sub-division is visually notated. This helps students maintain a steady beat.
- Rhythm code make it easy to track/play 'off-beats.'
- Rhythm code helps students who are struggling with rhythm
- Rhythm code helps an ensemble count and stay together.
- Rhythm code is helps students follow a line of 'code' in preparation for following a line of music (which is a kind of code).