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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Favorite Songs for Practicing Eighth / Sixteenth Combinations

I have been on a quest the last couple of years to find new songs for practicing eighth note / sixteenth note combination rhythms, and today I want to share a couple of my latest favorites. Both of these songs include both types of combinations in the same song, so they are best to use for practicing these rhythms after students have been introduced to them separately. 

Has anyone else found it difficult to find solid resources for teaching eighth / sixteenth note combination rhythms (  and  )? We have these rhythms in our 5th grade general music curriculum and I've never been truly happy with the songs I had for practicing them. But I now have two songs that I've found have worked well with my students that I can't wait to share with you: Let Her Go, and Bim Bum.

Bim Bum

I found Bim Bum a couple of years ago, just before the pandemic hit, and it has been a crowd favorite. This is perfect for those "too cool to sing in class" upper elementary students because it has a challenging game to go with it. I first show them the body percussion pattern while I sing it and have them try to do just the body percussion, which goes like this:

Once they get the hang of it I start gradually speeding up and tell them they have to sit down if they make a mistake. Once they are good enough at the body percussion, I challenge them to sing while doing it to make it harder, and I end with a showdown contest to see who can go the fastest without messing up (I tell them every year the true story of one student who beat me, and that nobody has been able to beat me since, and that gets them excited for the challenge). I seriously catch them every year singing the song and doing the game at recess and their homeroom teachers tell me they practice in their rooms too! Once they have internalized the song I have them decode the rhythms in the melody to find the "1-e-and" and "1-and-a" rhythm patterns and practice counting and clapping the melodic rhythm.

Let Her Go

I've been searching for a more modern song that uses these rhythms for several years and this fall I finally found Let Her Go by Passenger. I'm still on the hunt for a more recent song to use as an example (this one was released in 2012), but this one was a good addition this year to give students an example of music that uses these rhythms in a more relatable genre. I just played the first section of the song, had students sing along while patting the beat, and had them decode the rhythms in the first line to identify the two eighth / sixteenth note combinations. This is a good one to use as students are first learning both rhythms because both combinations are right there in the very beginning of the melody!

Do you have other favorite songs for practicing both sets of sixteenth / eighth note combination rhythms with elementary students? I'd love to hear your other ideas, especially if you have any more recent songs that you've found! Let me know in the comments what other songs you use that include both combinations. If you want to see my favorite lessons for teaching other specific rhythmic elements, you'll find them all in this post:

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