Exploring Beat and Rhythm

Age: 3-5 years.

Location: Indoor activity.

Lesson duration: 40 minutes.

Number of children: Open group.

Rationale: Children need to have musical literacy in the basic elements of music such as learning to identify beats and rhythms in order to develop confidence in their own abilities to express themselves musically. Learning these basic yet vital musical elements while introducing cultural exploration of an Afro American producer/composer will set the foundation for a life long appreciation for music.

Children will learn to identify the beat and rhythm in different pieces of music. Children will understand what is meant by a steady beat and rhythm.
Children will be able to compose as a small group.
Learn about music traditions from other cultures, gaining an understanding and appreciation for diversity.


Explain the history of Techno electronic music and how the Afro-American producer and artist Juan Atkins created the genera as a teen in Detroit (link to Juan Atkin’s lesson plan). The first song to use the term Techno was his song “Techno City” and one of his first hits in Detroit that he created was the song “Alleys of You Mind”.

Begin by asking children to sit in a circle and explain that in today’s lesson they are going to learn about the history of Techno and explore musical concepts of beat and rhythm, using the song “Alley Of Your Mind”. First play the song for the children to become acquainted with the music.

Main Component of Lesson:

Exploring the Beat

Ask children to place their hand over their heart to feel the pulse of their heart beats. Explain that in music there is also a steady beat that stays the same throughout, and sets the tempo (pace/time) for the music. Explain to the children what the beat is (heartbeat of the music) and how to find it in the music by finding the underlying pulse in a piece. Have the students pat their legs with their hands or clap to the beat (start the beat and they can copy what you do). Once they understand what the beat play the song “Alleys Of Your Mind”. Ask the children to practice keeping the beat to the song. Pay attention for correct beat keeping.

Exploring Rhythm

Next introduce the concept of rhythm. Explain that the rhythm is the arrangement of sounds as they move through time or the patterns of sounds. Demonstrate this concept by clapping your hands to a specific rhythm. Clap out the rhythm of “Alley Of Your Mind” by clapping on each syllable—”Alley Of Your Mind, Paranoia right behind, Alleys of your mind, Out of sync, out of rhyme” and so on. Then ask the children to copy you.

Go cry from barren land
Lost without a chance
Go fight [?]
Don’t tell what you see
[?] side by side
Glazed eyes feel so high
Anti love is the word
No others ever heard

Alleys of your mind
Paranoia right behind
Alleys of your mind
Out of sync, out of rhyme

Stars will hear [?] mind
Where is your sense of time?
There’s a beast [?] your dreams
Pop your mind at the seams
Take your fate in your hands
Do what your faith demands
If you can watch it all
Blamin’ us out of control

Alleys of your mind
Paranoia right behind
Alleys of your mind
Out of sync, out of rhyme

Practice both the beat and rhythm of “Alleys Of Your Mind” for a few minutes so all children can have a chance to understand how to keep the beat and create rhythm.


To finish, play a dancing conga line game of “follow the leader”. Start alternating clapping between the beat and the rhythm, getting children to follow and identify which is the beat and which is the rhythm, in order to demonstrate understanding of the difference between the two.

Key events:

Introduction of key concepts- beat and rhythm.
Ask children to follow, clapping the beat and rhythm of the song “Allys of your Mind”.
Finish by asking children to identify the beat and rhythm demonstrating an understanding of the key concepts.

Cellphone, CD, or MP3 player and speaker
Cleared area on the floor.
Play or download the song Alleys Of Your Mind or use a music CD.

Optional: Musical instruments or drums or Drum Machines to tap out the beat and rhythm.


Observe participation and correct clapping of beat and rhythm. Identify if children talk about beat and rhythm in music? Are children participating in the activity? Are they clapping correctly to the beat and rhythm? Can children work together as a group?

Extension Activity:

Children should listen to different pieces of music, by Juan Atkins aka Model 500, such as “No UFO’s” and clap out the beat and rhythm of the music. Musical instruments like drums, sticks or drum machines (iPads based instruments) could also be introduced for sounding out the beat and rhythm to the music.

Links to framework: (VEYLDF 2009).

Outcome 1: Identity- Initiate and join in activities. Respond to ideas and suggestions from others.

Outcome 2: Community- Understand different ways of contributing through play .

Outcome 3: Wellbeing- Combine gross and fine motor movement and balance to achieve increasingly complex patterns of activity through creative movement.

Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners- Children are curious and enthusiastic participants in their learning.

Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators- Use language and representations from music to share and project meaning.
(Resource Credit: The Liffey Trust Studios 2013)

About David Grandison Jr.

Music Origins Project is curated by David Grandison Jr. This site aims to remove the chronological and geographic barriers faced by music aficionados, students and travelers seeking to learn about the origins of the various musical genre while providing a platform for young writers and content creators to be published so that their voices can be heard.