Grade: Elementary
Subject: Music

#861. Beat-Rest Recognition and Performance

Music, level: Elementary
Posted Sun Feb 28 06:54:46 PST 1999 by Jess Buice (
Teaching Index for Music You Can Read
Music Notes, Inc., Riverdale, Ga
Materials Required: Board/Colored chalk
Activity Time: Varies
Concepts Taught: Beat-Rest, together-apart, barline, double bar, team development

Now, for a really fun lesson in steady beat, or beat recognition, try this...

GRADE(s): K-5th, depending on prior music education experience.

Objectives: 1> Students will identify symbols for beat and rest.
2> Students will identify patterns in the rhythm.
3> Students will perform the rhythm by chanting, clapping, and playing a rhythm instrument, maintaining a steady beat.
4> Students will identify and demonstrate the meaning of a double barline.
5> Reinforce concepts of 'apart' and 'together.'

Materials: Writing board, colored markers or chalk, pointing device (rhythm stick), rhythm sticks (new pencils {unsharpened}.

Lesson: Step One

After the class is seated and settled, draw a large beat on the left side of the board. (an 'X' with a stem going up from the top right cross) Point to the symbol and call out to the class "BEAT." Draw another beat and motion for them to call out the name {BEAT}. Continue to draw as many beats as needed to go completely across the
board. (For maintaining attention, clowning by pretending to draw the line of beats off the board and onto the wall, the laughter will stop your motion, act lost!)

Step Two

{keeping the attention: erase the board in grand gestures, or wiggling, bring more laughter. I always stop and look at them like "what'd I do?" then start up again.}

Draw another BEAT. Step back and call out beat while clapping. Draw another beat and ask the class to clap and say beat each time you draw a beat. {they can't say Beat or clap until you draw the BEAT, so pause to keep them focussed on what you draw, WHEN YOU DRAW IT, you're teaching, they're playing and laughing.} [don't forget the attention control used the first time]

Step Three

{keeping the attention: erase the board in grand gestures, or wiggling, bring more laughter...}

Using a different color, draw a REST (quarter, looks like a squiggly line, check a music book), identify this symbol to the class by WHISPERING "REST." Open your hands and arms to show the hands moving apart for a rest. Begin saying APART and TOGETHER showing the difference by opening and closing the CLAP. Switch to chanting BEAT and whispering REST, go back to apart and together, inviting the class to join in. Continue until100% are WITH YOU.

Step Four

USING TWO COLORS, begin drawing a new line of beats AND rests, encouraging the students to call out beat and whisper rest as you draw a 12 beat PATTERNED line. (B-B-R, B-B-R, ..., or B-B-R-R..., or B-R-B-R...
This time stop after the 12th beat and draw a red double bar line. Then draw a stop sign! Point to the double bar and the class Will say "STOP" without your asking! From now on they will call out stop at the end of each drill!

Step Five


Put the names of the teams on each side of the board: YOU (them) ME (Mr./MRS. __________.)

1>"I'll point to each symbol. If you say them all right, NO MISTAKES, then you get a point. But, if I hear a mistake, I get at a point! Okay? (whisper rest) If any mistake is heard, give yourself a point. Slow the pace to provide a successful attempt at your discretion.

2> Play the game again asking them to clap or rest for each symbol.

3> Play the game again without pointing. NO EXTRA CLAPS AT THE END!!! If so, do it again! They WILL get it right, or slow down.

Pass out rhythm sticks or new pencils. Holding one flat, and the other raised for tapping the flat stick, demonstrate the use and show a complete example of the drill.

4> Play game again while pointing, have student's chant the symbols identification while tapping the instruments. NO MISTAKES!

5> Play game again without pointing!

WHO WON? Now wasn't that fun!

This is the first lesson on the first day of music for kindergarten, EVERY YEAR! How's that for a foundation? For enrichment, play a relay race, using beat and rest as your first two races.

pictures can be seen at,

Let me know if you use this lesson, and especially how it goes.

In an earlier post, the link for center activites for the music class is incorrect, the correct link is: