A teacher recently asked me how to use Rhythm Menagerie with students who are older but still working on basic rhythms. I had to admit to her that I’ve used Rhythm Menagerie with all my students no matter what their age, but I think being successful with this depends on how you present the resource and how flexible you are in making it fit your student.

For example, there is really only 1 type of page in each unit for which the older student might think they are too “old.”  The animal characters are pieces of art themselves, so it seems that even older students appreciate the beautiful detailed etchings.  But, there are a few “fun with sounds” pages that might not thrill an older student (like the one with the bird flapping their wings on the 2 beats of the half rest). However, these “fun with sounds pages” is where lies a great opportunity for older students! Several of the pages are perfect for older students, especially the “high fives” pages in which students (or teacher and student) sit facing each other giving high five on the x’s. So, for the pages where you think the activity is immature for the student, you might consider replacing the “high five” activity for the x’s.

It’s also perfectly appropriate to ask your student to come up with their own body action for the rests or the x’s.  One of my students developed a dance move for the half rest page…doing his dance every time he saw the half rest!  Of course, he taught it to me too, and we had a blast!  (As you know, ComposeCreate.com is all about creativity, so feel free to be creative!)

Another activity that is not even mentioned in the Rhythm Menagerie book is to play round robin with your student! (Yes, even the teacher will have fun with this!)  You can do this with the single line, 2-handed or even fun with sounds pages. Here’s how to do it:

If you have more than 2 students: Students stand facing each other at a table (other students would line up evenly on both sides). The teacher gives a 2 measure prep beat and the first student claps the first measure.  Without missing a beat, the facing student claps the next measure. After each student claps a measure, they move to the side of the table, and let the next student be in their place for the next measure. If anyone misses a rhythm or skips a beat, they sit out for the rest of the round. At the end, when there were only 2 students left, the first student claps a measure then turns around in a circle while the other student claps the next measure turning around after completed…going back and forth. It is a dizzying blast!

If you have only the student and teacher: The student and teacher face each other at a table and play as before (alternating measures), turning around in a circle after they tap their measure. The first missed beat or missed rhythm makes the opposing member the winner!

Have fun with Rhythm Menagerie!