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Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Lesson Warmups to Practice Steady Beat

I've been using student-led warmups at the beginning of my elementary general music lessons for years now and I am a big fan! I've gotten a lot of questions about the warmups I do and how I do them, so today I'm sharing my favorite warmups to practice steady beat!

Most of my warmups are focused on practicing/ reviewing a basic skill or concept I want my students to practice regularly. Steady beat is definitely one of those things I focus on heavily in Kindergarten and then just assume my older students don't need to practice it after that, but I've learned some students need more time to really solidify their sense of beat, and students need practice feeling and demonstrating the beat with different meters, tempi, and styles of music.

You can read more about why I do student-led warmups and how I manage the logistics of warmups in general in this post, but essentially I have a small group of 2-4 students who are assigned to lead the warmup / opening activity / do now at the beginning of class. These steady beat warmups are ones that I always have ready and probably use the most often out of all the warmups we do throughout the year because they are easy and active.

1. Movement Mirroring

Before class, I get an audio track ready. As soon as the class starts walking in, I start the track and pull a chair over in front of the students to start doing different moves on the steady beat. Everyone copies me for a while, then I call up one of the student leaders, and they take over leading the class in steady beat moves. The leaders keep going until I call up the next person or stop the track.

2. Music Selection

Before class, I have a slide ready with several different audio tracks embedded in the slide with just the same speaker icon for each one. I try to choose tracks that are different tempi/ styles/ etc. One of the student leaders picks a track at random from the slide, and all students choose their own moves to show the steady beat to whatever track was selected. After playing it for a bit, I stop the track, and the next student leader comes up and chooses a different track.

3. Movement Selection

I have a slide up on the board that shows picture icons for several different body percussion sounds (clap, snap, stomp, etc). I turn on some music, and student leaders take turns pointing to different icons, and the rest of the class does the corresponding move with the beat of the music.

4. Body Percussion Groups

Similar to #3, in this one I split up the class into 3 groups (since I have 3 rows of chairs), and assign each group/ row to one body percussion sound that is on the board. Then I turn on the music and student leaders point to one of the 3 that were assigned- only the group that was assigned that sound does the steady beat when the leader is pointing to their icon.

There are so many fun ways to put students in charge and practice steady beat! These only really take about 3 minutes at the beginning of class and they really help set the tone and keep things moving. I'll share more warmups for other skills and concepts in a future post- if you have any questions or more ideas please leave them in the comments!


  1. I start every class (K-5) with a steady beat activity. I tell the kids that I don't want them to grow up and be that adult that can't clap along to the beat. I use varying genres of music and it gives us a chance to talk about the timbres we hear as well as the style of music and even the composer/performers.
    This year I've changed a bit, and I have used the same song for two weeks in a row. The second week I have a student lead the beat (only grades 3-5 now, but maybe younger grades later in the year). I've done the steady beat activity for probably three or four years now, and I see a definite difference in student understanding of steady beat by the time they are fifth graders, which I didn't see when we didn't do steady beat every day.
    Thanks for all of the information and ideas you share in your blog! I love reading (and re-reading) all of your topics, and I use your curriculum as a basis for what I do with my kids!
    Have a wonderful day!

    1. I love that idea! Use the music as a steady beat activity and a listening activity at the same time!