Students hear syncopation every day when they listen to their favorite music. It inspires them to drum their fingers on a table or get up and dance. As music teachers, you want to inspire that same level of engagement in your classes. So today I’m sharing three songs you can use to teach syncopation. The songs feature different movement activities, so that you can find the one that best suits your students. I would recommend these songs for fourth grade students or older, but that can certainly vary depending on your situation.


I adore this clapping game for teaching syncopation. I’ve often found that students who shy away from dancing games (topic for another day) are more willing to play clapping games. This is especially true of competitive classes who are interested in turning it into an elimination game.I wrote a blog post all about the clapping game and song. You can read all the details HERE.

There are a few different versions of this clapping game on Youtube. You can watch Rob Amchin sequence the game below.

Here’s a another version.



Bump Up Tomato is a song/activity that I originally found on the blog Treble in the Classroom. I love that the premise behind the game is to make others laugh. As a teacher, I would’ve loved to join in as I rarely had a student who could keep a straight face around me.


The lovely and talented Elizabeth from Organized Chaos was the first to introduce this song to me, and I’ve been a fan of it ever since! I love that it can do double-duty by teaching syncopation as well as rounds. Plus, the lyrics would be a great topic for class discussion.
As always, Rob Amchin does a fantastic job of showing how he sequences this song. You’ll see the hand motions that go along with the song, as well as how you can use it to sing in a round.