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Composing in Common Time

Aim: How can we create and perform rhythmic patterns in simple and compound meter?
Summary: Students compose and notate short 4/4, 3/4, and 6/8 rhythms across multiple class periods.
Standards: US 2, 3, 4, 5; NYC 1, 2, 3
Modality: performing, creating
Materials: Student Worksheet
Time Required: 20 minutes


  1. Review steady beat.
  2. Review simple four-beat rhythmic patterns by clapping or tapping together as a class through call and response.
    Download Student Worksheet
  3. As a class, create several examples of 4/4, 3/4, and/or 6/8 rhythmic patterns by getting suggestions from individual students. Write out then practice clapping and repeating each example measure.
  4. Have students work in small groups to compose their own 4/4, 3/4, or 6/8 measures by completing the Student Worksheet. Invite students to teach their rhythms to the class.

Going Deeper

  1. Have each small group add body percussion to their rhythms (e.g., snap for quarter-notes, pat shoulders for eighth-notes, etc.).
  2. Try clapping all of the newly composed 4/4, 3/4, or 6/8 measures in a row without repeats. Decide on an order that seems the most interesting and musically rich.

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

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