Creating a Rhythmic Accompaniment Using Sequencing

Creating a Rhythmic Accompaniment Using Sequencing

Jay McDowell
[email protected]
Independence Middle School

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Electronic Musical Instruments
Music Production


Middle School


General Music


Yamaha PSR-350 keyboards w/ headphones (2 students/keyboard) Live Recording Station with Sonar HS 4XL setup with microphones


40 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Students should be able to read notated music for pitch and rhythmic accuracy; Students should be familiar with the names of the keys on the keyboard

MENC Standards Addressed:

MENC 2: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
MENC 3: Improvising melodies, harmonies, and accompaniments.
MENC 4: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.
MENC 5: Reading and notating music.
MENC 7: Evaluating music and music performances.


Keyboards with simple recording feature; Headphones for students; PC or Mac with recording software; Microphones (perhaps USB mics to simplify the process)


Student will be able to:
1 – Locate and use various sounds available in the bank of the Yamaha keyboard
2 – Accurately play and record a melody on the keyboard
3 – Improvise rhythmic accompaniments for a melody using electronic percussion
4 – Perform/present for the class
5 – Discuss the rhythm and instrumentation of a piece with the class


Section 1 – 10 minutes:

1 – Students will be seated at keyboards with an assigned partner

2 – Students will be provided with selections of melodies from popular songs (folk songs, pop tunes, etc)

3 – All students will turn to America (or equivalent) in the collection of songs

4 – The class will play the melody line of America as a group with headphones unplugged and volume set at 50-60%

5 – The class will play the line again but this time, the teacher will improvise a rhythmic accompaniment using the rhythm instruments available in the keyboard bank


Section 2 – 10 minutes:

1 – Students will plug headphones back into keyboards for this portion of class

2 – Students at each keyboard will locate a sound they wish to use – the sound must be a pitched instrument (no drums, speaking, sound effects)

3 – The students will play America in unison and use the recording sequencer available on the keyboard

4 – After recording the melody line using the instrument of choice, students will locate a patch with percussion sounds they can use to accompany the melody

5– Students will take approximately 5 minutes to create a rhythmic accompaniment they are comfortable performing for the class


Wrap-up: (time is flexible as sections 1 and 2 may require more or less than 10 minutes)

1 – Recording station will be used to record the groups as they perform for the class (recordings should be archived with student names)

2 – Groups will perform in a random order

3 – While one group is performing, the remainder of the class will listen and take notes in an effort to determine which patches were used for both the melody and the accompaniment

4 – After the group is finished performing, the class will discuss the performance.

5 – The class will discuss the apparent difficulty of the rhythmic accompaniment (syncopation vs. on the beat? fast playing vs. slow playing? etc)

6 – The performing group will explain what sound they used to record the melody and also what types of sounds they used for the accompaniment

7 – Students may be offered bonus if they correctly guessed the sounds

8 – These steps should be repeated for all groups if possible, if the class runs out of time, the groups that did not perform will be performing tomorrow using a different melody

** If a great deal of time remains (perhaps for smaller classes) – permit students to choose a song from the available collection, see if students can split the keyboard in order to have one play the melody while one improvises a rhythmic accompaniment, etc


The student will be evaluated using the following. Grades will be recorded in GradeQuick (or other electronic grade book or spreadsheet)
Did the student:
1 – Work well with the assigned partner (1 point)
2 – Accurately record the melodic line of America (1 point)
3 – Create an appropriate rhythmic accompaniment (1 point)
4 – Perform and explain their piece for the class (1 point)
5 – Participate in class discussion/analysis of pieces (1 point)

Follow Up:

Take recordings made during class and add other sounds to create the feeling of a large ensemble. Have students improvise a harmony to accompany the melodic line – perhaps one student plays melody while the other plays harmony.

Items to Purchase:

Keyboards with simple recording feature; Headphones for students; PC or Mac with recording software; Microphones (perhaps USB mics to simplify the process)
When budget should be submitted:

Budget deadlines vary by district – if starting from scratch, it may take over a year to obtain all necessary equipment


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