How to Organize an Exciting Community Rhythm Cups

How to Organize an Exciting Community Rhythm Cups Event with Rhythm Cup Explorations by Wendy Stevens

The possibilities for using Rhythm Cup Explorations are endless and today, I’d like to share how you can do a Community Rhythm Cups event!

Even people who have never had any formal musical training can learn and have with Rhythm Cup Explorations! And what better way to advertise your creative and energetic studio than with a Community Rhythm Cups event!

Shelley McKone, a teacher in Canada hosted a community Rhythm Cups event for their community’s celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. Here’s a video so you can see a snap shot of what Shelley did:

Watch the Community Rhythm Cups Video:

I interviewed Shelley about how she organized and pulled off this amazing event. Here is that interview:

1. Shelley, please tell us about this event!

This was the 150th birthday celebration for Canada held at a park. There were other activities going on at the same time. I had about 75 participants! 

2. How did you make this exciting Community Rhythm Cups event happen?

The coordinators of the birthday celebration approached me and asked if I wanted to be involved. They gave me the option of what I wanted to do and I thought that doing Rhythm Cup Explorations™ would work well for a public event and I knew it could be taught by rote even to those that were “unmusical.”

3. Can you tell us more about how you “taught” such a large crowd all at once?

My helpers were so integral in making this successful!  I had taught them the Rhythm Cup Explorations™ lines we were going to do so that the participants could see. So they were able to help me teach the crowd that surrounded us.I taught these students on a different day….not the same day as the event as I wanted to be very organized!  Then as I taught the participants, my helpers sat with me in the circle at various points so that the participants could see at all angles.

A few things to keep in mind if you do this: It’s important to teach your students that will be facing the crowd to be the mirror image of what the crowd will be. So since the people in the crowd will need to hold the cup in their right hand and tap with their left, be sure to hold your cup in your left hand (along with your students who will be facing the crowd) so that the crowd can easily mirror you. So, when I had a separate lesson to teach my student helpers the rhythms, I had them hold their cup in the left hand and pass to their left which is opposite what the crowd would be doing.

It’s also important to pick really easy cup-tapping lines. These lines that I used are from Unit 1 of Rhythm Cup Explorations Book 1.

Lastly, it’s very important for a big crowd to make sure your voice is miked and you have a sound person.

Who are the people in the middle of the circle with you?

My students were with me in the middle of the circle

What materials did you need to do this Rhythm Cup Explorations™ event?

  • Community Rhythm Cups eventWe used 1X6 fence boards.  
  • The speaker/mike/sound guy were provided for me.
  • The cups came from Costco.
  • Rhythm Cup Explorations curriculum – I made copies of the rhythms that we were doing and put them in plastic sheets. [This is permitted since it’s a studio license and there is only 1 teacher teaching it.)
  • Spray paint.  I used a spike in the centre with a string attached for the radius.  I sprayed the length of the string so that is was circular.

We measured out a circle ahead of time, and marked it with chalk, so that it was easy for helpers to place the fence boards.  We had to adjust the circle inwards as I was planning for more participants and it was a drizzly day.

Did you have anyone interested in piano lessons with you after this? Did you advertise your studio in any way?

I’m not sure if I had people sign up because of the event.  For me it was just great exposure and getting my name out there and what kind of things I do with my students. I had 2 lawn signs with my business website with logo.

What was the age range and reaction of the people who participated?

The people that participated were about 4 years old and up.  The 4-5 year olds weren’t really able to keep up, but that was part of the fun. There was lots of laughing!  Fun!

What other things should I know or consider if I want to do a Community Rhythm Cups event?

Be ready to adjust the circle if there aren’t enough people since they have to be spaced close enough to pass the cups.  It’s also good to have some of your own students/parents as participants as others follow them too!

How did you feel about what you did and what transpired?

It was a great experience and very memorable. It was drizzling outside, so I think I would have had more participants if it weren’t.  Some people started to leave the area just as I was going to start!

How long did you do Community Rhythm Cups?

The time allowed was 1 hour. That was a good amount of time.  I taught 3 different lines of cup tapping and used the accompaniment tracks so it was like 3 pieces of music. [If you already have the books, but need the accompaniment tracks, Book 1 tracks are here. Book 2 tracks are here. I pre-taught the crowd the 1 line cup-tapping sequence without the accompaniment tracks as many times as needed, until I was comfortable most knew it.  Then we went through all 3 tempos of tracks. Since the tracks are for 16 measures of cup-tapping, we just repeated the one line of cup-tapping choreography 4 times. Between each one I asked and waited for new people to join. I probably could have done 4 music samples in an hour.

Teachers: do you have more questions? Have you done this?

If you’ve had a Community Rhythm Cups event, please share what you did and how it went in the comments below! If you have other questions for Shelley, be sure to ask in the comments below

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