Rhythmic Opposites (Warmup Game)

Clap Rhythm

About the Game

This music game is perfect for choir rehearsals, band rehearsals, and music classes. It takes 5 to 10 minutes to play and can easily accommodate both advanced and beginning level students,  a variety of age groups and multiple class sizes. You could use this classroom game as a warmup to start your class, or to break up longer classes and keep students focussed. 

Prepare the game

Begin with some echo-clapping to prepare your class’ ear for the type of patterns you will use during the game.

  1. Teacher performs a 4 beat rhythm pattern either clapping the pattern (or tapping on drum sticks)
  2. Students echo the pattern. Vary between whole class, half the class, small group and individual responses
  3. Teacher performs the patterns and speaks rhythmic duration syllables. Use whatever  syllable language your class is accustomed to – I use TaKaDiMi syllables as a first choice or Kodály syllables with groups who have already learned this system.
  4. If the students are experienced with echo rhythm activities, convert it to a “clever echo” where the teacher performs the pattern without syllables. The student must decode the pattern by clapping it back and giving the correct rhythm syllables.
Echo rhythm patterns
Sample echo clapping rhythms
illustrated here with TaKaDiMi rhythm syllables

Play the game

  • Teacher or an appointed leader performs a rhythm pattern using one of the prepared patterns and adding the syllables “no” and “yes”
  • Student or group of students echo the pattern but they must give the opposite syllables. For example, substituting “no” for “yes” and vice versa.
Rhythmic opposite demo

Game variations

Although, simple in concept, you can adapt the game in many ways

  • Change rhythm system – Teacher gives the rhythm in syllables and the student must respond with beat counting “1, 2 and, 3 and, 4”
  • Change pitch – teacher plays the pattern on the “tonic” note (do) and students must respond with notes on the “dominant’ (so)
  • Body percussion – perform the pattern using different body percussion sounds to the teacher
  • Practise a scale – Teacher gives the pattern on one pitch, student must change the pitch by stepping either up or down in the given key.
  • Reverse the dynamics or articulation
  • Retrograde – perform the pattern both forwards and backwards
  • Cycle of fourths/fifths – Each successive pattern must be performed on the next pitch in the cycle of fourths
  • Rhythmic augmentation – Perform the rhythm as heard and then again by either doubling or halving the note values
  • Creativity – compose your own pattern by using the teachers pattern as your starting point and improvising further beats

Looking for Music Games?

If you’re a classroom music teacher looking for music and singing based music games, check out Total Music Education’s publication – Total Fun which provides more than 100 music games for the busy music teacher.

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