12 Days of Drumming: Cards 5-8: Make Rhythms Relevant


As promised, we are putting a rush on the 12 Days of Drumming cards so you can make your plans for your upcoming holiday parties, groups lessons and camps.

If you haven't been following this series of posts, Heather Nanney and Marie Lee and I are creating 12 supplemental cards to coincide with our resource we created called Bucket Drumming for Piano Teachers.

Bucket Drumming for Piano Teachers is on sale for $29 and it is definitely worth every penny as you'll be able to use the ideas for your summer camps and now with these new cards, tailor bucket drumming activities to suit your holiday studio plans.

The buckets and creative activities make playing and reading rhythms fun! That was our collective goal as understanding rhythms is complex and difficult for most young musicians. We've come up with 80+ engaging ideas that boost strong rhythm skills.

Be honest, how many kids do you know, jump up and down with glee when asked to count out loud? Our plans connect with kids and will get them counting because they UNDERSTAND WHY they need to count!

Before you download Cards 5-8 (available below) I want to share why I believe these activities featured on the holiday cards and those in our resource are so important to the process of learning rhythm.

With drums, common words and phrases and other off bench activities, we are making rhythm notation relevant by matching note values and rhythms with familiar patterns. Let me explain with an example outside of the music field.

Last evening I was enjoying the company of a 2-1/2-year-old girl and her younger 1-1/2-year-old brother. We were celebrating the arrival of their younger sister (yes this is a BUSY household) and so I brought the Chunky Pack: Christmas  by Roger Priddy as a gift for them.

They could not get enough of the books. They loved holding the small but chunky books and gazing at the brightly colored pictures inside.

The idea of each perfectly-sized-for-little-hands book is simple: while one page shows a colorful graphic of a holiday image like a Christmas tree, the other side identifies the image with letters forming the words: CHRISTMAS TREE.

Since the 1 -1/2 year old didn't own very many words yet and was quite content with his pacifier, he happily pointed at the objects while sitting on my lap. But, I guided his older sister to say the words on the page. Of course, she said "Christmas tree" because she quickly identified the object from the picture.  Soon, I covered up the image and she recognized the words without needing the picture.

Was she recognizing the letters, putting them together and reading the words? Maybe, maybe not, but she was making a connection that letters hooked together make symbols for Christmas stuff like Christmas trees and reindeer.

In a way, this is what the cards in our 12 Days of Drumming Cards feature. They encourage drummers to relate the names of favorite holiday items, toys and the phrases of well-known carols to note values and rhythm patterns.


Examples of matching words with rhythm notation:

  • Elf = quarter note

  • Santa = two eighth notes

  • Jingle bells, jingle bells = two 8ths quarter, two 8ths quarter.

By relating familiar words and phrases to rhythm notation, drummers begin to make connections and lock in the vocabulary of what we call rhythm.

With the help of the tissue rhythm boxes as seen in the picture above, drummers notice that groups of smaller note values will share one beat AND that each beat still lasts for one box--the same amount of time.

One supplemental card in this next bunch includes a great idea for teaching tempi and dynamic contrasts.

ALL the activities require physical action, dictation, listening, notation and/or team work which guarantee solid comprehension.

Click on the drumming reindeer below to get your next 4 cards.

Still need the first four cards? Follow this link.