by | Feb 15, 2023 | Ear Training, Improvisation, Teaching Ideas

5 Fun & Creative ways to Teach RHYTHM in the First Month of Music Lesson

Rhythm is essential to how our music sounds. Imagine singing What A Wonderful World but the rhythm is all wrong? It’s going to kill our beloved song! Our students need to get ahead in the game of understanding rhythms. They need to be able to hear, play and understand difficult rhythms before they encounter them in the music they play. So it is essential to think creatively on different ways RHYTHM can be included in the lessons.

Here are 5 fun, simple and creative ways to teach this that will work for all instruments!


Clap, sing or play something and ask the students to clap it back to you. This can even be the starting point to explain what rhythm is to your students. This may seem fairly basic but Playing this game for just 15 seconds in every class can be really helpful. Not only are they understanding rhythm, they are also cultivating their listening skills. They are being introduced to new rhythm patterns.

In fact, this helps create a database of rhythm patterns in their brains.

They will later be able to use this database to identify these rhythm patterns in the music they read or hear. How simple will it be to play something new if you already know and understand what you need to play?


Here, you can just sit, pretending to have some snacks and tea. Be immersed in conversation. Except, the conversation is not with words, it is with RHYTHM PATTERNS!. However you wish to do it, this game involves you clapping a rhythm pattern and the students answering back with their own rhythm pattern.

This is a great first step towards improvisation and composition!

 Yes, it is absolutely possible to start this from day 1, all you have to explain to the students is that what they clap needs to be an answer to what you have clapped. So they shouldn’t think of something completely new. Also they should try to keep their answer as long as the question that you posed to them.


These new students are absolutely dying to start playing the instrument. Teach them how to play a few sounds. Guitar and violin students can pluck open strings, piano students can play on the black keys, or anything else that works for you and your students. 

Clap out a rhythm pattern and ask them to play it back to you. They should randomly play whatever sounds you’ve taught them on their instrument. Just keep in mind to play back the correct rhythm pattern.

This will work even better if they clap back the rhythm before playing it.

Want to take it one step forward? Ask them to play what you clapped, then answer what they played on the instrument itself. Then repeat what they answered in claps. This is definitely going to get them to start using their ears more and more. If you are teaching in a group setting, all of these steps can be assigned to different students. Get ready for a lot of giggles and laughter!


This is pretty self explanatory, isn’t it? I just had to include it. Giving a specific sound to each note value works wonders in remembering and understanding rhythms. If your students sing a simple tune – something as simple as Mary had a little lamb. Now you can ask them to do it again but this time with Kodaly rhythms rather than the lyrics. 

They can understand the rhythm of the music they already know.

Of course there are many other ways you can use this without actually teaching fully using the Kodaly method, but this one advantage is really helpful and fun in any music classroom.


Body percussion is a wonderful tool to teach anything! There are so many ways you can use it. We spoke about it earlier in our blog about teaching beat to beginners. To teach rhythm using body percussion, you can assign a different action to different note values. Use clap, snap, stomp, pat and choose 4 different note values you want to introduce.

Watch as your students self correct themselves!

You can clap or play a rhythm pattern and ask your students to convert it into body percussion. If you are one of the teachers who starts teaching written note values early on in the classroom, this can especially work wonders to understand and revise written rhythms. 

So these are my 5 fun and creative ways to teach RHYTHM in the first month of music lessons. Creating a strong base is essential for the students. What better way to do it than to have fun and play? It is amazing what we can learn when we don’t know we’re actually learning.