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Pulse and rhythm

What will we learn?

Today we will focus on steady beats, how to count beats and about patterns of rhythms.

This can take 20 minutes to complete but we recommend spending around 30-35 minutes on it.

What is pulse?

Pulse is a steady beat.  It can be counted in 2, 3 or 4

(and sometimes 5 and beyond) and keeps the music in time.  It is he heartbeat of the song.


The conductor of an orchestra or choir sets the pulse by making the beats of the music with their hands.  


Today we're just going to look at counting in 4 as it's the most common.


With someone at home, count the ticking of the clock in four for a minute...

1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4...

Each tick of the clock is called a beat.

Why not ask an adult to check your pulse? How many times in a minute does your heart beat?

What is rhythm? 

A rhythm is a pattern of long and short sounds as you move through the song.  Rhythms work alongside the beats (pulse) and the beats make sure that the piece is steady.


Watch the video below, see if you can follow the rhythm and then the beat... and then swap over!  You might need to do this a few times to get it right.

Now give it a go yourself

​You can do this with as many people as you need to.

  • Nominate someone as the beater - this person will keep the steady pulse throughout.

  • All of you start clapping in 4 together (1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4...)

  • When you're ready to, start by clapping out a tune you know - something simple like Twinkle, Twinkle will work or choose your own.  The person should keep the beat, counting in four.

  • Start again and nominate someone else as the beater and repeat until everyone has had a go!

If you're struggling, watch this video to hear a tune and a beat together:

#LoveToLearn challenge 1:

Join in with the video below and remember, don't clap this one back!

#LoveToLearn challenge 2:

Can you create your own rhythm?

Tap it out as someone counts the beat for you...

Can you...

  • Say what pulse is?

  • Say what rhythm is?

  • Tap out a pulse?

  • Tap out a rhythm?


Are you ready to learn about duration and tempo?

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