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4. Conducting Templates

Lesson 4 Module 1

When I was reformatting "The Solfege Train" for the New Music Academy, I felt that the concept of weak beats and strong beats could be expanded a little, and S Stringham was happy to help with the art for these fantastic conducting printables.  

The concept for weak and strong beats is taught with colors.  Red is the strongest beat, and is always the down beat.  Blue is for weaker beats.  Yellow is for secondary strong beats, which are not as strong as the downbeat, but still have some emphasis.  The conducting printouts illustrate this principle in a visual way that extends beyond the original scope of the course.  The focus of the "Solfege Train" is for ear training through pitch, although elements of rhythm are also introduced.

Originally meter was not taught, only strong and weak beats, as outlined below the printouts.  They are fun enough to use with rhythmic percussion, but have proved to be less effective for body percussion alone.  These conducting pages really drew my kids in, and I'm optimistic that your kids/stundents will enjoy them too.  

These conducting pages are full-sized sheets, which I think is the best size for both classroom, studio, and homeschool use.  The movements with the arms and hands require large moter skills, so bigger is better in this case.  As always, you can use Adobe Reader or a similar program to print out multiple sheets on a single page if you want a smaller manipulative.

Begin by tracing the conducting patterns in the air with your dominant hand.  Repeat the pattern multiple times until the student can play the pattern naturally with a steady beat.  Now is a good time to get the metronome out.

Once they feel comfortable with the pattern, introduce conducting along with a familiar song, such as the nursery songs used in "The Solfege Train" and "Beginning Rhythm".  The patterns for 2/4, 3/4, 4/4 and 6/8 are included because they are the most common.  In fact, anyone familiar with how to conduct these meters would be a competent conductor for the vast majority of songs used in social settings, and I highly recommend this skill for everyone regardless of their interest in music.  I hope these printables will make it easier to learn!

Printouts

Notes from "The Solfege Train" for using the beat cards:

Focus on keeping a steady beat, feeling the down beat, and being aware that some beats are stronger than others.  Beat cards available in black and white, or colored.

Materials used:  Colored papers marked “Strongest”, “Weak”, and “Strong”.  Use two instruments (can be body percussion), one which will sound more prominent.  For example, for body percussion, you might tap on your legs for the stronger sound, and clap for the weaker sounds.

Tell the students that music has strong beats and weak beats.  Place 2 papers down; 1 “Strongest” and 1 “Weak”.  Prominent instrument plays first, lesser instrument second.  Play the pattern seen on the cards.  Repeat the pattern.  If there are two players, switch.  Now place 3 papers down, 1“Strongest” and 2 “Weak”.  Do the same exercise.  

Place 4 papers down, 1 “Strongest”, 1 “Weak”, 1 “Strong”, and 1 “Weak” (in that order).  Now when playing, the stronger instrument plays the second “Strong” beat a little softer than the first.  You can later place 6 papers down, 1 “Strongest”, 2 “Weak”, 1 “Strong”, and 2 “Weak” (in that order).  Do the same exercise.  

Note to teachers:  The meters used are 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, and 6/8.  While this is a great introduction to the concept behind these meters, do not teach the meters to the children yet.  The focus on this lesson is Strong vs Weak beat.  Note that this a difficult concept for many children, so our goal is to introduce the concept now.  Mastery can come later.  Finish the lesson with a fun activity, such as reviewing a concept the child especially enjoys.

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