I am teaching a student this year who has a hard time paying attention to the rhythms in his music. Usually I have no problem fixing rhythm issues. But this particular student also struggles with tracking, and occasionally with differentiating between treble and bass clef.
So…. fixing his rhythmic issues also means addressing these other problems too.
And when you have to address issues with tracking and staff identification, common techniques for reinforcing rhythm, like clapping the music first, just don’t work.
So I had to try something different.
I started using a teaching strategy that worked so well it now gets used with all of my young beginners. It’s called Track Tapping… and it helps to teach rhythm, build tracking skills, solidify treble and bass clef understanding and “pre-teach” the coordination your students will need once their hands are on the piano.
Track Tapping… A New Way To Reinforce Rhythm
I didn’t know what else to call this strategy (maybe it already has a name)… so I called it Track Tapping. Track Tapping is where your students use “drum sticks” (pencils work great!) to tap the rhythm of a piece. Each “tap” happens directly on top of each note head on the music and is held for the corresponding number of beats. Left hand rhythms are tapped with the stick in the left hand and right hand rhythms are tapped with stick in the right hand. Check out the short demo video below.
Track Tapping Works! But Why?
Not only does Track Tapping help your piano students focus in on the rhythm of their music, but it also strengthens their eye-tracking skills and right hand vs. left hand coordination.
Your students are training their eyes, hands and ears (the tapping sound is a great aural-feedback tool) to move across the page of music in a rhythmic way.
With Track Tapping, your students learn to directly associate each rhythmic value with what is pictured on the page. A half note is tapped and held for 2 beats directly on the half note; there is no room for confusion or guessing… as can happen when clapping a rhythm.
Your students are also learning to move across the page of music in a way that is even, measured and directly related to what is in their music. The opportunity that Track Tapping provides to move back and forth between right and left hands (not possible with clapping) further strengthens tracking abilities and clears up the treble/bass clef confusion that is common with young beginners.
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Take It Back To The Piano…
Once you move back to the piano, your students will have already practiced following the rhythm of their music in an even way. They have pre-learned the “back and forth” between their hands and they have already “heard” the rhythm separate from the melody. These three things are often enough to make the next step (note reading) much, much easier.
Give it a try with your young piano students! It’s a great off-the-bench way of solving three common piano student problems with one super-fun strategy!