Reply To: Differentiated Instruction in the Music Classroom

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I think easier ostinati are important to use. You can have more than one ostinato at a time. ALso, lots of kids like to work in teams – so even though it kind of goes against the grain – sometimes letting them find a way of playing the ostinato in a cooperative manner – can help.

Definitely use a language based chant to anchor the rhythm.

Use fewer or no rests initially. IF you eventually want a rest – put something else there first – a complimentary pattern on a different instrument, for example.

Have them MOVE the rhythm in their bodies first – walk it, etc.

Use Kodaly strategies to teach
1) copy – have them copy you kinesthetically – and they can sit cross-legged and practice on their knees or floor with hands or mallets before they get to the xylo. If they can’t copy you – even slowly, they are going to have trouble.

Teach PART of the rhythm first – simplify – and then start layering in “challenges”
even something like a 4 beat quarter note pattern, then change something slight. Have THEM figure out what you changed and what changed in the notation, FIX the notation, and slowly work your way to the rhythm you want.

2) have them hear and recognize the pattern you want them to play. When you are playing it, when you are not playing it, etc.

3) have a visual symbol of what you want them to play. use COLOR to highlight a special part or something they really need to pay attention to. Sometimes icons can represent an entire measure. Have them compose with these so they start to “own” these rhythms.

Another way is to teach the hard part first – say the hardest measure – but teach it a beat at a time and keep adding in another beat. By the time you add the other stuff, they have practiced the hard part the most and will be competent at it.

Just some ideas…

For recorder I sometimes have on group play ONE NOTE only so they only play the c’s while others play the a’s etc. so they really have to pay attention and COUNT. You can color code to help with focusing on that.

Just some ideas…