Issue 9: Musical Multiples

I have been experimenting in my year 5 & 6 djembe class with poly-rhythms as a warm-up activity in recent lessons.  I was delighted when the class came back next lesson and performed a new piece to me which they had developed in their maths lessons.  It’s a very simple idea; they divided themselves into three groups, and each played a bass note on “their” number.

Group 1: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 (multiples of 2)

Group 2: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 (multiples of 3)

Group 3: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 (multiples of 4)

The children concentrated fiercely, counting in their “thinking” voice and keeping a very steady pulse.

We developed the activity in the lesson by adding very soft tones to the non-multiple beats.  They played this quite slowly (it was the first time on drums as they had been practising on their desks in the lesson).  I think it could sound really exciting once we can speed up the tempo.

I reckon there is a lot of scope for extending this idea, using different percussion instruments, and incorporating rhythms as well as pulse; etc the multiple-of-two group could play soft quaver tones on their odd numbers, eg tone-tone bass; and the multiple-of-three group could play tone tone-tone bass as their rhythm.

The children plan to work on other combinations of multiples over the coming weeks, for example 5s and 7s.

I can’t wait to see where this will lead to!  It is so exciting when a class takes a concept from a lesson and comes back with their own interpretation.

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