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Pass the Shoe is a fantastic song and game for practicing steady beat. It’s a short song with a catchy tune, making it easy for students to internalize. The game can be modified in multiple ways to fit nearly any age group and skill level.


The most straightforward way to play this game, is to have students sit in a circle pass a shoe to the steady beat. However, as music teachers, we all know that it’s never straightforward when it comes to beat passing games. Students require several steps beforehand to ensure good hand-eye coordination, and to avoid total shoe-passing chaos. Here are a few steps you can follow leading up to any beat passing game.

  • Practice the steady beat as you normally would. For example, the teacher sings the song while students pat, tap, or clap the steady beat.
  • Students sit in the game formation (in this case a circle) and practice the steady beat again.
  • Students practice the beat moving their hands as they would in the game. For example, in Pass the Shoe, students would practice patting their hands on the floor, from their left to their right, just as if they were passing an object.
    • Before moving on to passing with the actual object, you might try something that’s easier to grasp, such as a beanbag.
  • Lastly, give students the object and have them pass it to the steady beat. If you sense chaos creeping in, you may want to return to a previous step in the process or consider modifying or delaying the lesson to make it work for your students.


In the following video from Lindsay Jervis, you see music teachers playing the game. With the first beat, they pick up the shoe, then set it down on the second. On “this is what I do”, they hold on to the shoe, moving it backward and forward before passing it on again. This action reminds me of the passing game for Al Citron.

I would make one modification. Instead of continuing in the same direction, I would keep the beat as is throughout the pickup note, forcing students to change directions. Try it out at your desk, and you’ll see what I mean.


In the following video, you see several differences in the way the students pass the shoe. Also, I love how she has them put the shoe in the air in between, clearly the students are having a great time with it. These are the kind of moments students will remember and tell their parents about when they get home, which is wonderful!


This version of the game would be perfect for your pre-K students. It sets them up for understanding opposites; fast and slow.