Sunday, February 14, 2010

Heartbeat cards and rhythms..not just for Valentine's Day.

I happened to think of posting these visuals because it's Valentine's Day. Heartbeat cards. You know. But, unlike the last lesson idea, the heartbeat cards and the rhythms that go with them can be used throughout the school year and with any grade from first up, so I thought you might find them handy. Putting them together yourself can be a bit of a pain, so I saved you the time and effort and just gave them to you already formatted.

Take note...If you use cardstock of whatever colors you choose, you can print the whole rhythm pack out on your computer on cardstock, or if your school's Xerox machine allows for cardstock you can print multiple pages out there, which saves your in in your home printer. When cutting the heartbeat cards apart, just cut the page of cardstock down the center lengthwise so there is a line of 4 hearts on each of the 2 resulting cards. When cutting the rhythm cards apart, be careful!!! The idea is that each rhythm card will take up the same amount of beats/hearts as the note requires. So a ta quarter note is the width of one of the hearts, the syncopah is the width of two hearts, the dotted half is the width of three hearts, and so on. I think you catch my drift. The easiest way to do this is to carefully cut them apart using one of those big choppers they tend to have in schools. I have no idea what they are technically called.

The heartbeat cards and rhythm cards can be used many different ways. Students each have their own 4 beat heart card and the necessary rhythm cards you will be using depending on their grade level and what you have covered in music class, or for younger grades, you could have partners work together.

1. One way I use these manipulatives are to have students figure out the rhythms of a song they already know well. Students will have to figure out how many beats the song is and how many phrases total. (As an example: Snail Snail is 8 beats long and two phrases). As we sing and clap the song, they place the cards they think match the rhythms of the song underneath the heartbeat card (first phrase right under the hearts, next phrase under the first phrase, etc.) Make sure you have them check their answers by singing and touching the rhythms to check for correctness. Younger students will take longer to do this, of course, or older students who are figuring out a longer and more difficult song will need more repetitions of the song to complete their answers. When finished, have the whole class say the rhythm solfa together to check their answers.

2. These visuals can also be used for rhythm dictation in which the teacher claps a 4 beat rhythm and the students "write" it with the cards.

3. They can be used as a means of composing with rhythms, with students creating their own 4 beat rhythm patterns. They can either create multiple patterns to make their own song, or they can combine their rhythm with that of other classmates to create a longer song. Have students perform their rhythm compositions with unpitched percussion, or later add melody to create a complete song.

4. They can also be used to teach older students about meter. My students have found them a great visual reminder of the difference in meters. The heartbeat cards I have given you are for 4/4 meter. You can create other heartbeat cards for other meters, such as a strip of 3 hearts to show 3/4 meter, or 2 hearts to show 2/4 or 6/8 meter. If you stick with duple meters like 4/4, 3/4, or 2/4, the rhythms I gave you will work. Obviously, if you decide to branch our into triple meters, like 6/8 or 9/8, you will have to create some new rhythm cards that fit with triple meter rhythms.

I usually put together sets of heartbeat cards and rhythms in gallon size bags. I adjust what rhythms are in the bags based on the grade that will use them. I hope you find this as useful as I do. To download the heartbeat cards and rhythm pages you can print out on cardstock and cut out, please go to the website linked on the right. Hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day!

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