Rhythm is part of us, in our heart beat, our speech, and the way we walk. When we learn a new word, a teacher usually pats out every syllable so we can hear the different parts of the word. When we dance, we follow the pulse of the song, whether it is rock and roll, waltz, or a ballad. When we sing, we can usually keep the rhythm even if we forget the words and melody.
To encourage language and help students with language, I utilize rhythms and instruments. A greeting of “hello” or “hi” can be difficult for a student who is shy, learning to speak, or learning social skills. With the two and three-year old Ducks, we played the drum to help with greeting. What fun we had playing fast, loud, and soft on the drum! Though most of the students did not say hello during our opening song, they did during drumming: “hel-lo” (hit-hit) or “hi” (hit). They imitated my words, which were paired with hitting the drum. Most of them played their names and one even played Par-ish-School and saved several other words.
Switching gears to the older students, The Parish School Choir worked on exchanging rhythms of our new song, “Do you hear?” back and forth between two groups. First we clapped the basic beat of 1, 2, 3 with our hands, our feet, and playing it on different parts of our body. Getting the pulse of a song gets our mind focused. Next, we clapped the rhythm of the phrase: 1, 2, 3, 1-2-3 (3 short notes, one long note). Then we spoke the words: “pause, do you hear?” in the rhythm. It was new for students to work in two-part and they certainly concentrated hard on their parts. It was exciting to see that students picked up the rhythm, played their part, and listened to the other group play their part. Next week, we are putting melody into it. Rhythm comes first!