Percussion Improvisation Circle (Day 2) Lesson Plan: 29 March 2016
The Percussion Improvisation Circle is an exercise to teach students some basic rhythms, encourage musical creativity, and get them comfortable performing for a group. The goal of the Circle is to expand students’ musical understanding and experience, getting them to improvise a rhythm while moving (some kind of simple dance). By getting each student to successfully improvise a rhythm, the main concept I will be addressing is risk-taking, because they are doing something new and as individuals. This activity also addresses unity and variety, and groove.
- Various non-pitch percussion instruments for each person (wood blocks, tambourine, sticks, etc.)
- Open space
- Introduce the different rhythm sets (quarter notes, eighth notes, groove: boom-clap-boom-clap-clap-clap) first as demonstration then add the students in, having them copy each one
-should take about a minute
- Introduce a simple dance, moving side-to-side every two beats, to internalize the beat
-students with larger instruments do not have to do the dance
-take no more than 30 seconds
- Assign students a non-pitch percussion instrument, they do not have to have one if they do not wish to (mostly if they want to do the groove rhythm)
-take less than a minute
- Assign groups to each rhythm set, based on students’ abilities and instrument types (larger instruments should have quarters, smaller instruments should have eighths, any instrument can take the groove)
-take no more than 30 seconds or so
- Set up the groups in a collective circle, with rhythm groups together,
-take no more than 30 seconds
- Put it all together as a group, starting with quarters, then adding eighths, then the groove
-take no more than a couple of measures
- Once a steady pulse and groove are established, teacher will begin the improvisation rotation, indicating which student will start and cue them: each student will have eight measures or so to complete their improvisation, with a couple bars between each student
-take the rest of the time
Each student will be given the chance to improvise, and will be evaluated based on ability to complete the activity successfully, both their improvisation and their participation in the basic rhythms. When students perform their improvisation they will be using their new understandings of rhythms, showing their creativity, and be more comfortable performing on an instrument.
To extend this experience, students will be given non-pitch instruments again, and a dance will be introduced. The new dance will be based on the groove and allow students to be completely involved in the activity and music.
With this teaching some things that I felt went well were everyone’s ability to follow the directions and complete the activity with little-to-no difficulty. Everyone was able to successfully complete their improvisations both times that we went around the circle, and there were no awkward stop-and-start moments when transitioning. Some things that could have gone better were my general instruction, and having better instrumentation. I began to go out of order with the steps (00:40, 00:55, 2:02) because as I was instructing I felt that the plan that I had wasn’t the best way to proceed. The activity did not go as long as planned (5:23) because there weren’t as many people as I was expecting, and it was because of the smaller group that the instrumentation wasn’t that diverse. The instrumentation should have been more diverse because the instruments didn’t all blend well together. Some instruments were louder than others, and it was because of this that some of the improvisations weren’t very clear or heard over the group (5:08, 5:15). Going forward I think that I should think my plan over a little more and practice it more so that in the middle of teaching I am not changing what I am supposed to be doing. For next time I would like to pick better instruments and assign them rather than do a free-for-all (2:08). I also think that next time it would be beneficial to take more time in-between the steps and directions to transition smoother and allow the group to process what is happening as we move forward. I would like next time to focus more on the movement and pulse to keep everyone together, and really encourage people to be more free in their improvisations, making them longer and more creative with the different instruments.