Teaching rhythm

Teaching rhythm to students is a great challenge for piano teachers. It all starts pretty innocent with an introduction of whole, half, quarter and even eight notes, but the problem starts when all of the above time values are being mixed. Unless you are a suzuki student that already knows how rhythm feels and sounds (because they learn rhythms by ear before even any theory terminology is introduced), it is hard to comprehend (and, mainly feel) why there are two eight notes in one quarter note! Here is a simple and quick way of demonstrating eight notes at a piano lesson. It is called "Musical Pizza". Step 1: Draw a circle - a pizza, tell a student it is a WHOLE pizza (like a whole note), pick a sound and make student play it and hold on the piano for four counts (slowly, steadily, counting out loud). Then "cut" pizza in HALF (like a half note), pick two notes and make student play and count it. "Cut" pizza in QUARTERS (like quarter notes) and do as the above, and so on with eight notes - eight "slices" of the pizza. After that ask your student how many "slices" are in whole pizza? half? quarter? You can also clap the pizza (of course with counting out loud), just don`t forget to show where the main beats are. When it comes to eight notes, count out loud - one and, two and, three and, four and, while pointing at each "slice" of the  pizza clockwise.  Do this a few times until well understood (at this point your student most likely gets why an eight note is a half of a quarter!) Step 2: Write down a rhythmical pattern with quarters and eight notes. Pick a note (practice rhythm outside of a music content so no articulation, dynamics or even note reading gets on the way, only pure rhythm!) and make sure your student plays it without skipping a "slice" when playing quarter notes (while counting out loud, can`t stress enough of that!). Do the same with all time values. Keep the pizza drawing in front of your student even when he is learning new pieces. Use these tips and piano lessons will become more fun and engaging!