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Last week, I discussed the concept of strong and weak beat with my private lesson student. This quick discussion helped solidify her understanding of the rhythm she was playing. However, this situation is a far cry from the methods I employed to teach strong and weak beat with my elementary students. It took several class periods full of movement activities and games before my students were able to feel the strong and weak beats and transfer that knowledge to the staff.

So today I’ll be sharing a quick and simple idea for teaching strong and weak beats using a well-known chant. I hope it will be a positive (and fun) addition to your ideas for teaching this concept.

Bounce is a three-note chant used often to teach mi, so, la. However, it’s also great for feeling strong and weak beats in music. I usually introduced this chant in first grade when my students learned la. Then, I revived it in second grade when we focused on strong and weak beats. Because they knew the chant from the previous year, they were already comfortable singing and keeping a steady beat to the music. In other words, the foundation had already been set.

To prepare for this activity in your own class, you’ll need enough plastic or rubber balls for every student. Your P.E. or special education teacher may be able to lend you some that are high quality and appropriate for your age group.

To begin the lesson, demonstrate bouncing the ball on the strong beat and catching on the weak beat as you sing the chant. Then, distribute the balls and ask the students to join you. Consider handing out non-latex balloons to the students who are struggling. They can get on their knees to bounce the balloon. With less weight and a shorter distance, they are more likely to be successful.

If your students need an extra challenge, ask them to stand in a circle. One student will bounce the ball on the strong beak, and the next student will catch it on the weak beat. Continue doing this until the ball makes it all the way around the circle. Once they get the hang of it, try adding more to the mix. You could also tell students to replace “Shiloh” with the name of the student who is catching the ball.

If you decide to try this activity out with your own students, leave me a note in the comment section about your experience. I would love to hear how you modify it for your own classroom!

If you’re looking for additional resources to teach beat, click HERE to read about another circle game and song you can use. Or click HERE to learn more about the Basics of Beat, which is a great review for going over the sights, sounds, and feel of steady beat.

Thanks for reading!
Jennifer