Last week’s STOMP lesson was a total bomb! Usually I would be able to salvage such a lesson midway, but between mask wearing and social distancing, it was impossible! What did I learn? Those tried and true tricks that we all rely on to connect with our kids and draw them in, are no longer possible in this situation. Our facial expressions and/ or proximity do not hold as much weight as before and so we must connect in some other way. If possible, smaller groups are better and any props/ instruments that you can safely use are worth it!

Originally I had taken the kids outside to do some synchronized steady beat work to shake things up a bit, but we were too spread out and with masks, we had a hard time hearing each other. Instead, I decided to bring everyone inside and play with instruments! Here is the lesson:

  • Do some rhythmic echoes
  • Create a rhythm: |I M I I | d d |
  • Have everyone clap it
  • Write in a repeat sign
  • Clap it again
  • Divide class into 2 groups
  • Have group 1 play first measure then group 2 play second measure
  • Do this a few times until they have it
  • Give group one rhythm sticks and group 2 triangles
  • Play it again
  • Then I asked kids to remember the last lesson when we passed around the steady beat and created a written score for it.
  • We now have 2 parts; how do we write that in score form?
  • Here is the rhythm again: |I M I I | d d |
  • Does part 1 play the first measure? (yes) So we write that in, but do they play the second? (no) So what do we need to write there to indicate that they do not play? (rests) YES!!
    1. |I M I I | Z Z Z Z |
  • What about part 2?
  1. |Z Z Z Z | d d | is what they figured out!

The cool side lesson was how to write rests for a whole measure. I started out writing 4 quarter rests because that is what we had done in the last lesson, but kids who played an instrument either mentioned writing in 2 half rests to replace the 2 half notes OR 1 whole rest for the whole measure. Either way, it was a perfect learning opportunity where the kids brought us to the next level! …and you know how I love that!!!

This was a simple rhythm to highlight how to create a score, but you could easily make it more challenging ~ add syncopated rhythms, dynamics, more measures, more parts, etc.… This is also a starting point. Let the kids add on at will and make it their own!