Music in First Grade: How to Practice Quarter Rest

Finally, after choosing songs and preparing our mystery rhythm, we know the real name to a beat without a sound.

>> Songs to Teach Quarter Rest

>> How to Prepare Quarter Rest

>> How to Present Quarter Rest

Teaching students how to truly hear a rest is teaching students how to be thoughtful, aware musicians. To not play something, but to silently hear it, takes a lot of musical maturity, and it’s one reason I love teaching quarter rest.

Here are some of my favorite ways to practice ta rest. They involve student compositions, instrument choice, performance, and a reflection time.

Let’s jump in!


 
How to Practice Quarter Rest
 

Compose with quarter rest

Student-created rhythms are wonderful for practicing elements - what better material to use than material students have created themselves?

This rhythm pattern could serve as an ostinato for the whole piece, or it could serve as an interlude, intro, or outro.

For the song, Bluebird, Bluebird, my students were given these rhythm building blocks:

(Click here to download!)


In small groups, students create a four bar pattern using their rhythm building blocks. Since the purpose of this activity is a quarter rest, students include a silent sign for rest.

When the rhythm cards are in their final order and students can clap and speak their rhythm several times in a row as a group, students put their composition on body percussion.

**Teaching tip: Especially in younger grades, it’s a good idea to model how to have a creative discussion when several students are contributing ideas. Explain that your idea may not be chosen every time, and it’s important to work together as a group to come up with a musical idea that represents everyone.


Add Instruments and Perform

Once students have their compositions ready, it’s time to put them on instruments.

Step 1: Choose instruments in each group:

The teacher may demonstrate several options for instruments: Triangle, rain stick, hand drum, cabasa. . . .

Ask students to discuss in their small groups which instruments would be best, and which would be worst for playing their compositions. Students will discover that not all instruments are appropriate for their compositions - some instruments have a reverberation that lasts far beyond its strike - no good for playing a rest.

Since the purpose of this activity is the quarter rest, students should opt for guiros, hand drums, tambourines, cabasas, maracas, and other instruments that allow the quarter rest space to be clear.

Step 2: Practice their composition on instruments

When students move to instruments, I ask if they can recreate their body percussion on their new percussion instruments. Students can think through all the different sounds their instrument can make (high / low, loud / quiet, etc.), and make connections to levels, volume, and pitch of their body percussion.

Step 3: Give a performance!

With a composition, body percussion and instrumentation complete, students are ready for a “final” performance of their ostinati.

This performance could be in front of peers, in front of you, in front of the classroom teacher, or a larger parent or school audience.


Talk it through

Did we stay together as a group the whole time? Was the space for the quarter rest totally empty?

Our students need time to think through and evaluate their musical performance. They need time to hear feedback from their peers. Create space in your lesson for students to reflect on their performance, and make revisions if they feel it’s necessary.


When we teach quarter rest, we’re practicing inner hearing - inner pulse. We’re teaching how to listen.

I like this activity for practicing quarter rest because it draws upon so much previous musical knowledge. It also puts students in the driver’s seat of their own learning: creating music, exploring new ways to play it, and thoughtfully reflecting and revising their work. It’s a beautiful process to watch!


You can find more songs for teaching quarter rest in my Folk Song Index.

Happy teaching!


Music in First Grade: How to Present Quarter Rest

In this post we looked at some great ways to prepare quarter rest through singing, games, listening, analyzing, and notating.

Now that students have this preparation it’s time to present the real name and symbol for a quarter rest.

To do this, we first need to know if students have enough experience with a quarter rest. Then we need a solid presentation plan to follow.

Let’s jump in!

 
WAMM Graphics Collection_1-30 Quarter Rest Presentation.png
 

A Quick and Simple Presentation Test

The point of a presentation test is to ensure that the class is ready to move on to labeling and seeing the real notation for the rhythmic element. If you have data from these preparation activities, great! If not, this presentation test is perfect for you.

When I give a presentation test I’ll use one of my favorite songs for teaching quarter rest, such as Bow Wow Wow.

With four steady beat hearts on the board, I’ll ask students to tell me on what beat there is no sound. They will show the correct number of fingers on their hand (holding up 1, 2, 3, or 4 fingers), but only when I say “Go”. This helps me know that students aren’t simply looking at someone else’s answer and copying.

Students keep a steady beat on their laps as we sing the second phrase of the song, “whose dog art thou?”, and then I ask them to stop and think before they answer.

Then we sing it again.

By the time I say “go” students are confident that the answer they give is their own. I also ask students to hold their answer close to their chest, so their neighbor doesn’t accidentally see.

Then I can quickly go around the circle with my seating and assessment chart and mark grades for each student.

When I see that the majority of the class has given the correct answer, I know we’re ready to move on to presentation.

2. Presenting Ta Rest

With the data in from our presentation test, students are ready to move onto the next phase. The purpose of the presentation phase is for students to give a name to the sound they hear, and see the visual representation.

To present ta rest, follow a procedure and script something like this:

2. Give it a name:

  • Students keep steady beat on their laps while the teacher points to steady beats on the board. Sing Bow Wow Wow together.
  • T: “Remind me, how many sounds do we hear on this beat?” (none)
  • T: “Musicians have a special name for no sound on a beat. It’s called ta rest. Let’s say ‘ssshh’ when there’s a ta rest, that way we remember not to make any sound there.”
  • Students sing the whole song speaking “ssshh” at the appropriate time.

2. Give it a symbol:

  • T: “We can represent ta rest by using this sign: Z”
  • Students help the teacher notate whole song in rhythmic notation.
  • Students speak and clap the whole song in rhythm syllables

You can grab this free presentation lesson plan to use in your classroom - just click the image to download! 


I love this presentation plan for a few reasons:

The presentation test is super simple and gives me the information I need before moving forward.

I also love how the presentation script uses everything students have learned about rhythm so far - steady beat, rhythm, ta, ta-di. . . And now we get to build on that solid foundation of musical experience.

Next time we’ll look at some awesome ways to practice ta rest.

Happy teaching!