Hot Tips for Building Rhythm Reading Skills with Cups


Tip #1

Thanks to Wendy Stevens, most piano teachers have a decent stash of colorful plastic cups AND their students are (or becoming) rhythm reading aficionados. Also thanks to Wendy, the cups don't catch dust sitting on the shelves because she provides oodles of ways to keep them fresh and fun.

Her latest addition or "facelift" to her Rhythm Cups Exploration resources includes hip accompaniment tracks and with some classical tunes, too. Enough to please anyone's musical tastes!


Wendy let me know that updates for the Rhythm Cup Explorations 2 Accompaniment Beats have arrived and they are bigger and better than ever! Based on feedback from her fans, here are some of the NEW highlights:

  • A super slow track for each page

  • 4 different tempo tracks for each page

  • 104 total tracks (because book 2 is 2x as long as Rhythm Cup Explorations 1)

  • A bit of silence at the beginning so that you are sure to hear the first beat!

  • Two measures of count off to better prepare your students!!!!

  • Strong and Weak beats emphasized in the count off track!

  • A little silence at the end so you can have time to stop the track.

  • Different styles of beats or instrumentations. They all still have a beat though!


Here's the post with the sale prices and more details on how to download the tracks.

Tip #2

Pssst...if you have the app Anytune, you don't even need all these different tempo tracks because the app slows down any imported MP3 file. I store files like this in Dropbox (tap on the link to set up your free account) which can then be easily accessed in the Anytune app. Leave a comment if you want to learn more about this process. 

Tip #3

Before you dive into Wendy's Rhythm Cup Explorations, prime your pianists with opportunities to find their inner pulse, align it with a groove and tap into their creativity away from the page.

Turn on one of Wendy's backing tracks in 4/4 time and follow these steps.

  • Create simple patterns with one or two cups and ask students to echo or copy them.

  • Label the cups with "R" and "L" for younger students to keep track of right and left hands.

  • Continue to create more complicated rhythms with a few more crazy antics--like tapping a cup on your head and all the other zany stuff Wendy likes to do in her books.

  • Ask one student to create a pattern that matches the length of yours and other students echo it.

  • Ask the group to choose some favorite patterns (up to 4).

  • Repeat and memorize each pattern to make a "cup combo" or routine.

    • You may need to turn off the backing track to master the steps!

    • Name each pattern after the student who created it so that students keep track of the pattern.

    • Call out the pattern name and students must play the pattern. Repeat many times!

    • When each pattern is mastered, play all patterns in the same order--over and over to secure memory.

    • Turn on Wendy's backing track and perform.

    • Start with the slow backing track and challenge students to play the combo faster and faster.

    • Capture the fun on video and make sure to get the bloopers, too!