Tappin’ Tuesday – Exciting Classroom Rhythm Cup Idea!
Back in January of this year, Renae Misner, a high school music teacher emailed me and said,
I have used the first two of your books for my music theory classes this year. They have been a big hit! We called it “Tappin‘ Tuesday“. At the end of the semester they composed their own cup exploration. I would love to send you a copy of the video if you are interested. Where shall I send it?
Of course, I was super interested! She had used Rhythm Cup Explorations with her high school class all year, every Tuesday and they composed their own Rhythm Cup Explorations routine? Wow. I responded right away and told her where to send it.
Watch this amazing video!
So with their amazing enthusiasm and creativity, you can imagine that I wanted to know more about how Tappin’ Tuesday came into existence. I knew that other teachers like you might be able to use these ideas in your own classroom or studio and Renae was so gracious to answer my questions. I only wish I had the new Rhythm Cup Buttons available at that time to send to her students (they are new just this week). But I was able to communicate with them and send them a little something for sharing.
I hope this gives you ideas about how you can incorporate Rhythm Cup Explorations and further rhythm development in your school or community!
Tell us about how your Tappin’ Tuesday theory class came into existence.
I teach music there at Lawrence High School in Fairfield, Maine. I wanted to include something new into my curriculum to strengthen the students rhythmic reading and performance. I happened upon Cup Creations and thought it looked like fun. I ordered both books and decided I wanted to pilot it in my Music Theory classes. Tappin’ Tuesday came in just because I chose Tuesday’s to work on the rhythm curriculum and Tappin’ Tuesday seemed like a fun name.
Working through each exercise starting from the beginning and going through Rhythm Cup Explorations. We zipped through the first book pretty fast since almost all of the my students are in band and chorus. They definitely had fun using the cups and being a bit creative in their playing.
Can you give an example of a typical Tappin Tuesday class period?
Students arrive in class on Tuesday’s and immediately move the desks into a circle. We pass out cups and the next section of the Rhythm Cup Explorations book. We discuss any new notes, rests and movement in the exercises. Sometimes we will start a lesson from the previous week but usually they want to dive right in. Everyone takes a couple of minutes to look at the rhythms and we give it a try. Sometimes we are successful and sometimes it ends in a laughing fest when we mess up. I participate in the activities too. When we have finished a page we often split the page up by line and into groups and perform them all together.
Another variation is to take random pages we have learned, pass them out and each person chooses a line on that page to perform. We then perform them all together. Of course they all have to be in the same meter!
Thinking about the beginning of your school year to the end, what kind of changes did you see in your students and their rhythm abilities?
The abilities of my students greatly increased by using this method. Not only did it help them read rhythms it helped them prepare for for sight reading examples in our regional honors festival auditions, it helped them with their All State sight reading as well. The rhythms came very easy to them and they could concentrate on other aspects of the auditions and sight reading.
Did the students have any favorite cup tapping units or cup tapping techniques?
Oh my goodness! They loved them all, especially the tap your forehead! It was quite the show when that was introduced. We least enjoyed the behind the back portion but only because the set up the classroom we needed to use was not conducive to behind the back. Again because of the nature of the room instead of the high 5 we did a fist pump with a big loud WOO!!!
Did you have any unexpected benefits of this class?
Academically the benefits were endless however the best unexpected benefit was the laughter and team building these activities brought to the students. Students were excited about Tappin’ Tuesday especially if they were having a stressful day or week. Something about tapping cups, making music and being creative was relaxing. I do have to say the study hall in the room right below us was not so excited about Tappin’ Tuesday!!!!
Tell us more about the creative end-of-the-semester project.
The high school chorus was doing a piece of music called, Do You Feel The Rhythm by Greg Gilpin. Many of my theory students were in chorus as well. We did some brainstorming and each student came up with their own part of the intro. They organized the order of rhythms, the tapping techniques they wanted to use and composed the piece. It was a very effect intro to Do You Feel The Rhythm and the audience loved it.
What are your top 4 pieces of advice to teachers wanting to start this?
- Don’t be afraid, jump in with both feet
- Participate in Rhythm Cup Explorations vs. supervising the activity. They students are much more accepting of anything if you are willing to put yourself out there and make mistakes too.
- Talk the rhythms first and while going through the activity. It solidifies the rhythms.
- Use a variety of cups, sizes and styles to give the rhythms different pitch and sounds.
Tell us about the response of the administration.
We are often looking for things in the music department to “show off” to our administrators. I talked to my administrator and asked him to stop by on a Tuesday sometime. The day he did we were set up for Tappin’ Tuesday. I had the students explain the process we use for these activities and they proceeded to demonstrate. This particular administrator is not very musical but loves to learn. At the end of the demonstrations he asked some questions of clarification but one of the questions he asked was priceless. He asked the difference between the notes with holes in them, the notes with straight stems and the notes with ponytails!!!! He was speaking of eighth notes of course but the whole class got quite a chuckle and we now refer to eighth notes as ponytail notes!!!
Do you have a story about an interesting thing you’ve done with Rhythm Cup Explorations? I’d love to hear about it and may share it in a future blog post (with your permission of course). Please send me an email with your story! Your teaching colleagues might be able to use your idea to make their teaching efforts more successful as well!