Friday, June 5, 2015

Teaching Rhythm in the Bed Bug Rhythm Hotel

 Right now my 4 year old daughter's favorite piano game is Trick or Treat, a fun rhythm activity which I found on Layton Music website several years ago.   She wants to play it every day she practices.  I'm sure a lot of that has to do with the fruit snacks or goldfish treats that she gets to eat when she picks a treat card:)  I love how the repetition has helped her to even understand the concept of eighth notes at such a young age.
To introduce the concept of counting by measure I had her construct
rhythms bugs, slugs and snakes on our rhythm heart beat board.  The fabulous idea from Jen Fink of using silly putty to teach rhythm has been a fun and effective addition to my studio activities.  Now that I'm teaching my first Let's Play Music graduates, I thought a bed bug board would be especially effective with them as they learn rhythms with "bugs and slugs"  so I made this bed bug rhythm board. Each colored room  in the "Bed Bug Hotel" represents a measure and each bed= 1 beat.

Imagine the bug family comes to the hotel for a family reunion.
1.  Can you count the number of "heads" that are in each room (measure)?  Are there enough beds for everyone?  If not, some bugs (the eighth notes) will have to share a bed.  If there are no rests in the measure, all the beds must be filled.  The half and whole note "bugs" need a little more room to stretch out across several beds.  Or maybe grandpa (whole note) just needs a whole room to himself because he snores!
2.  Add eyes to your bug's head.  I use a the tip of a pencil and it serves as a great visual/tactile reminder of when the sounds of each note begins.
3.  Add numbers (counts) below each bed.  The numbers land on the pillows, whereas the + or e & a's are in the middle of the bed when the bed has been "subdivided" to share with several smaller bugs.
4.  Glow in the dark silly putty is a fun surprise if you have a dark space to go to accentuate the repeating rhythm patterns of a song dictated on the beat board.

 I also made a 3/4 Time Signature Board.  I prefer to just slip the printable into sheet protector so that students can use a dry erase marker to add the counts below rhythms they have dictated.
I like to introduce new rhythms with the beat board at private lessons, but it also serves as a fun game component at our group lessons when students compete to dictate their rhythm bug rooms quickly and correctly.


  1. Hi Heidi, I am interested in learning more about your Piano Quest for Virtues, I would like to use this program beginning in the fall. Could you please let me know a more specific way to contact you? email? Thank you very much! Penny N. Fargo, ND

  2. Thank you for sharing your time, your knowledge and your wonderful blog!!! Thank you., More Blessings and *GOD BLESS*
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