Teaching With Chopsticks and a Rhythm Clock

Paula Telesco

When teaching rhythm, it can be difficult to convey the concept that beats are not just attack points but have a full duration, which can be divided into many parts; it can also be difficult for students to understand how those divisions and subdivisions do or do not coincide. I have created a number of rhythm clocks (attached) that include color-coded Ta ka di mi syllables (red) and 1 ee and uh counting syllables (blue) to show the division and subdivision of the beat into 2, 3, 4, and 6 parts, and to show simple and compound divisions and subdivisions combined. 
I also utilize chopsticks to teach aurally one-beat rhythmic patterns; these are demonstrated in the “Rhythm Tapping Patterns” videos, and illustrated in the “Illustrated Tapping Patterns and Notation” handout, which  includes both a protonotation for students who do not yet read music (or read it fluently), and actual notation, for students who do, and/or for instructors.
This material has been designed primarily for beginning students, appropriate for high school AP students, non-music majors, music minors, or students taking remedial theory, but it is also appropriate for demonstrating more complex patterns for more advanced students.