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1 minute reading time (298 words)

Create and motivate: Rhythm boxes, part III

My last two columns introduced the placement of Xs in boxes to help beginning students understand rhythms better. Now, I'll wrap up this series with ideas about how to use rhythm boxes to practice more complex rhythmic concepts.

Start by using a word processor to make and print blank tables like those below. Then, try these activities with your advancing students. 


1. Rhythmic displacement

A. Quarter note displacement: Play two eighth notes on beat one, then displace the rhythm to the right by a quarter note to beat two. Keep displacing to beats three and four so the pattern repeats. Use rhythm boxes to demonstrate the process. 

B. Eighth note displacement: For a more advanced challenge, displace the rhythm by an eighth to beats 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5 etc. 

A. Start by placing Xs to represent four onbeats and four offbeats. Clap or play the result using single notes, or play Dm7 chords for measure one and G7 chords for measure two. 

B. Next, displace all the Xs to the left by a beat (two eighth notes) with the X on beat 1 moving around to the end. Clap or play the result. Note that the chords do not displace. Each lasts for one measure regardless of the rhythm. 

C. Continue displacing the Xs to the left until you have exhausted all of the permutations. Any of these would make a convincing Latin accompaniment. Here's how they look notated with chords: 

  Until next time, enjoy your creative music-making journey!

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Piano Magazine is the leading resource for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts. We bring you informative, interesting, and inspiring ideas on all aspects of piano teaching, learning, and performing. The official name of Clavier Companion magazine was changed to Piano Magazine in 2019.

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