Junior High Band
Teaching Tips

Play Rhythm Games

Rhythm games can give the students a break from blowing and add some fun to a class. I used them especially with the beginners.

Composition Game

  1. Everyone selects a musical sound (a note on an instrument, a whistle, a clap, etc. - nothing gross) and a number from one to eight.
  2. The teacher sets a tempo (not too fast at first) and counts out loud from one to eight while the students make their sounds on the number they selected (Voilá! You have an eight-beat tune.)
  3. The teacher stops counting out loud but continues to count silently while the tune continues to play.
  4. If the students keep a steady tempo, the tune will be the same every eight beats. If someone gets off, the tune changes.
  5. Pick a different sound, a different number and do it faster.

Beat the Metronome

  1. Using a metronome that makes a tone on beat one, set a tempo and let it play for a few measures.
  2. The students are to keep the tempo going in their minds without tapping feet, etc.
  3. Turn off the volume but let the metronome continue to play while the students try to maintain a steady tempo.
  4. After 15 or 20 seconds turn the volume back on.
  5. Those who are on beat one with the metronome tone win.

Clapping Game

  1. The teacher sets a tempo by tapping his baton on a music stand (not too fast at first.)
  2. In tempo, he says (for example), “On, four, skip, one, two, three, four.” Everyone claps on the number four.
  3. If everyone does it correctly there will a loud clap on four and nowhere else.
  4. On the next beat the teacher says (for example), “On, six, skip, one, two, three, four, five, six,” and everyone claps on six.
  5. Continue changing the clap number, saying skip and counting.
  6. It helps if you crescendo to the clap number, for example:
    On five, skip, 1 2 3 4 5
  7. After a while say, “On, (some number), skip” but don’t count out loud.
  8. The students try to count and clap in the right place.
  9. Try alternating "On, one" with other numbers. For example: On, one, skip, one, On, three, skip, one, two, three, On, one, skip, one, On, five, skip, one, two, three, four, five, On, one, skip, one, etc.
  10. Do it faster.

Video Disclaimer

The attached videos are not perfect examples of how each tune should be played. They are recordings of junior high students, some of whom have had their instruments for only a few months. Also, they are not professional recordings. They were taken by band parents using home equipment and naturally focusing on their own children.

I include them for two reasons: (1) To give you an idea of what the arrangements are like, and (2) To illustrate the kind of performance you can expect from your junior high students.