Today’s post is just a quick game that I play with my students. It’s a fun way to practice rhythm, reinforce listening skills, and the kids love the competitive element. And it can be adapted for any level!

I love to include rhythm echoes in my daily warm-ups with my kids, but sometimes they get old. So once in a while I’ll play a game I call “Forbidden Rhythm”. (I can’t remember where I first heard of it or what it was called, but this is my version.)

music class lesson learning rhythm game

In Forbidden rhythm, I clap a rhythm, and the students echo. For older students, I might mix in other body percussion to make it more complex, or even move to an 8-beat rhythm instead of the usual four. In either case, there is one rhythm that is forbidden: the students may not echo this one. If any of the students echoes the forbidden rhythm—or even starts to—I get a point. If none of the students echoes it, then they get the point.

What are your favorite rhythm games to play with your students?

Looking for more ways to engage students with rhythm and notation? Try these 15 fun ideas for practicing rhythm in different ways, or “Write the Room” to practice reading and writing rhythms.

Forbidden Rhythm
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