Teaching Rhythm in Music

Rhythm is a vital concept for all musicians to understand!

However, it is not always easy to teach.

It needs constant review, reinforcement and practice, so I have created Rhythm Workout pages. 

At the beginning of each lesson, I have a Rhythm Workout sheet displayed on the digital projector for students to see as they enter your classroom. They soon become used to seeing this and start going through each rhythm mentally because they know they will be asked to perform any one of them.

This is also an excellent classroom management technique because the students are engaged and quiet, leaving you time to take the roll etc.



I find this three-step strategy works well.

STEP 1. Students SAY/SPEAK the rhythms aloud to a given pulse using French Time names. I usually clap or tap a pulse. 

STEP 2. Students  SAY/SPEAK the rhythms aloud to a given pulse using French Time names as they clap the rhythms and finally……

STEP 3. Students SAY/SPEAK the rhythms to themselves (in their head) to a given pulse using French Time names as they clap the rhythms.

To mix it up and add variety and interest, try the following:

  • Combine various bars to create different rhythms, e.g. bars 2, 3 and 6, then clap them in order 
  • Clap rhythms in retrograde,
  • Clap as a round/canon,
  • Clap, placing the accent on different beats. 
  • For older students, divide the class into 2-3 groups and ask each group to chant the French Time names of their rhythm on a given pitch to create harmony!
  • Divide students into 3-4 groups giving each group a different combination of 4 bars to perform to create polyrhythms! 
  • Choose four individual students and give each a different bar number to clap – they must then clap the four-bar rhythm fluently, one bar after another, in the order you or another student has chosen.


  • Print off individual pages as worksheets and use them for classwork or homework. Have students:
  • Write the counts under the notes
  • Circle all the eighth notes etc.
  • Monitor student understanding and progress.
  • Make a Rhythm Workout booklet for each student - initial and date each rhythm when students can perform them correctly.



CLICK to download.


The sheets I use are in the following resources:



Or, buy the TWO resources as a BUNDLE and SAVE.



 FEEDBACK from a teacher who has used the RHYTHM WORKOUT

"This Rhythm Activities for Middle School Music resource saved my whole day on Thursday. I purchased the resource on Wednesday night and, luckily, read through some of the ideas to effectively use the resource. The next day, Thursday, the speakers in my room wouldn't work, so my planned lessons couldn't be used. I logged onto the rhythms and had the most beneficial, amazing and fun sessions with my classes reading and playing the first few rhythms with French time names, chopsticks and instruments. The kids loved working in teams, with one group playing Rhythm 1 and the other team playing Rhythm 2 etc., Guess the Rhythm. Perform the Rhythm etc....the whole hour of each lesson was based on this resource. Thank you!"


"Great product. Well-crafted. Excellent instructions and suggestions. I use these as a warm-up for all of my performing ensembles. Thumbs up!"


"I love these--something for everyone, beginners through advanced students"


"We use this in our music class every day! As I take attendance, the students are clapping and counting. Then we do the exercises as a class. Thank you for adding to my daily routine!"


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