Thanksgiving here in the states is less than a month away, while our Canadian neighbors have already stuffed themselves full weeks ago *waves to Canadian neighbors*. Personally, I’d like to celebrate it twice. That seems like a great idea to me. I’m already looking forward to the cooked-from-scratch noodles and pies that are sure to send me into a carbohydrate meltdown. In the meantime, I’ll be busy collecting food-related songs and preparing for the upcoming holiday season. With that in mind, I’ve picked Over the River for the focus of this week’s post.

This is a great song for introducing students to compound meter. The abundance of eighth notes throughout will help students feel the division of the beat. Also, this song is likely to be well known by most parents, which means if students start singing the song at home, there’s a good chance their parents will sing along with them (we hope).

My video this week is a simple guitar accompaniment, which you can use for a singalong with your class.

Take out your woodblocks, tone bells, or any other instrument you have that makes the sound of horses’ hooves hitting the ground, as well as some jingle bells for the sound of the sleigh. Mix and match if need be so that every student has an instrument. If you don’t have enough to do this, simply have students trade off halfway through each verse. The more often students have instruments in their hands, the less likely they are to get off task. Begin with a warm-up by having students play the instruments on the steady beat while they sing.

Then, work as a class or in small groups to compose an ostinato for each instrument part. I’ve provided an image below that you can project on your whiteboard to show as an example to your class.

Thanks to Dancing Crayon Designs for the awesome instrument clipart!
I purposely wrote the rhythms so that each part matched up in every other measure. This way, if you choose to try these ostinatos, your students will more easily hear when they’re together (and when they’re not).
Try using the accompaniment video above while students work to learn their ostinato. Then, once they’re comfortable, add in a small group of singers. This would be a great piece for an informance or a last-minute presentation, because it showcases so much of what our students learn through music!
If you’re looking for more resources to teach compound meter, take a look at my Rhythm Chairs Game for 6/8 Meter. It gives students a chance to be physically active as they practice their rhythms, which is always a plus!