How to Master Reading Rhythm using THIS Free Resource

How to Master Reading Rhythm using THIS Free Resource

by | Jan 28, 2024 | MTB exams, Music Examinations, Teaching Aids

Rhythm Mastery – Using MTB’s Reading Skills as a Classroom Resource

Music teacher and students all know that rhythm reading a crucial aspect of musical literacy. So we can never have enough resources to help us enhance our ability to read Rhythm. One such invaluable resource comes from the Music Teachers’ Board (MTB) – a set of free downloadable rhythm reading resources designed for various skill levels.

What are MTB’s Reading Skills?

MTB’s Rhythm Reading Skills is a collection of resources created for each of the 8 music grades. Each set comprises 6 distinct rhythm patterns, providing a comprehensive approach to rhythm training. Primarily, these rhythm reading skills are integral to most MTB music practical examinations. During these exams, students are expected to clap out each of the 6 patterns. This exercise not only assesses their rhythm reading ability but also their internalization of rhythm, a key skill in musical performance.

Beyond Examinations – A Classroom Resource:

What sets MTB’s Rhythm Reading Skills apart is their versatility. While they are an essential part of the examination process, their usefulness extends into general music education.
Regardless of whether students are preparing for an MTB examination, teachers can creatively use these freely available resources in many ways in their classroom and gamify their way of teaching. Here are some ideas that can help you use and reuse these resources in multiple activities.

1. Let’s Start Simple 

use them as what they are intended for; get your students to clap these out one by one. For more gradual learning, instead of the given tempo, you can challenge students by creating tempo buckets like – beginner, advanced, champion – and get them to clap these at various tempos. A little tip, if you want to surprise your students, keep the champion-level tempo as extremely slow as opposed to extremely quick.

Game Idea

Keep a dice handy. The students roll the dice and whichever number they get, they have to clap the rhythm patterns on the sheet in front of them.

2. Mix It Up

Introduce complicated note values and time signatures and make your students attempt rhythm patterns from various grades at once. There is a tendency for students to overlook rhythm over pitch when it comes to reading music. The more advanced they become with reading and understanding rhythm, the easier it will be for them to read music.

Game Idea

Cut each of the rhythm patterns into strips, shuffle them like cards, and keep them in a pile upside down. The students pick up a random strip of rhythm and clap the one they get.

3. Exploring More Rhythms

Introducing students to rhythms in a structured format can be a great segue for them to start creating their own rhythm patterns. Writing your own rhythm can be the first step in composing. This can open your students’ eyes to a whole new aspect of learning music, one that goes beyond reading or copying existing music.

Game Idea

Fold the sheet such that only half the rhythm pattern is visible to the student. Let them clap the half they see and instantly come up with the other half. Reiterate that this is a creativity game and not a memory game. So, they can make up their own rhythm patterns.

4. Improvisation

These patterns can be great improvisational tools. Especially if students are hesitant improvisers. Just get your students to randomly explore the sounds on their instrument but keep in mind that they have to play in the rhythm pattern in front of them.

Game Idea

On chits of paper, write down all the scales they have learned. They pick up a chit and whatever scale they get, they must improvise within that scale. You can give further instructions like asking them to start and end on the 1st note of the scale.

5. Composition

With the rhythm pattern in place, the students can use these reading skills to create melodies. Just like they did with improvisation, but this time, instead of doing the exercise instinctively on the spot, they will be creating well-thought-out tunes.

Game Idea

Get all your students to compose individually using the same rhythm patterns and the same instructions. If you are teaching in a solo setting, you compose along with your students. Then put all the compositions together and see how the whole music has turned out. Then sit together as a group to discuss if you want to make any changes to the whole piece and brainstorm on an apt title for the whole composition put together. 

Using the same resource in the same way can get super boring for you as well as the students. However, repetition is key to internalizing concepts. Exploring different ways to use the same resources  not only keeps the classroom lively but also helps reiterate simple concepts to your students.