Grade: Elementary
Subject: Music

#3276. The Clave Rhythm

Music, level: Elementary
Posted Fri Nov 5 13:50:11 PST 2004 by Jennifer DuBois (
Music Education Major at SUNY Fredonia, Fredonia, NY USA
Materials Required: poster w/clave rhythm, Djembe, claves, Map, CD player, CD w/ music containing the rhythm in it
Activity Time: 25 minutes
Concepts Taught: the history of the clave rhythm and instrument and it's impact on Latin and American music.

-Greet class!
-Remind them of quiet signal [Tikuoneni (Hello) in Malawian (South African language)]. Write the word on the board and practice it.
IPA: [ti kwo nE ni]
-Explain that today we will be learning about the clave rhythm.
-Explain that the clave rhythm comes mainly from Africa and how it got to the USA, Jamaica and South America (slavery). Point out where the countries are on the map.
-Explain that the clave rhythm was originally meant to be played on the drum, but because of the slave owners being afraid of communication and any remembrances of their heritage, the clave sticks were created.
-Ask them why they think the rhythm was so popular (easy to dance to and used commonly in salsa rhythms)
-Have them dance/step the rhythm while you play it on the djembe.
-Hand out claves and review rest position prior to handing out the first set (if there aren't enough claves, use rhythm eggs/maracas).
-Show them how to play the "claves" correctly. (lightly hold one stick in your non-dominant hand keeping the area underneath it open so that it creates a place for the sound to resonate, then tap the stick with another stick using your other hand).
-Show them the rhythm written out on a poster
I = Quarter note Z = Quarter rest / = meas. line
X Z /

4 I I I / Z I I Z //
4 X. X. X / Z X X Z //

-Play/clap the rhythm as a class until it is done correctly.
-Play traditional African music that contains the clave rhythm in it's original setting and use.
-Have them play/clap with the recording.
-Play current music that contains the clave rhythm in them and have them listen for it. ("Iko Iko" or "I just can't wait to be King")
-Have them play/clap with the recording.
-Have them turn in their claves by passing them up to the person in front of them.
-Ask for questions.