Placing Downbeats

Placing Downbeats

David Kaminski
[email protected]
Georgetown Middle High School

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:



Middle School


All Classes


Computer running notation software


40 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Students should have knowledge of various rhythmic values.

NAfME standard of 1994 Addressed:

NAfME standard of 1994: Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
NAfME standard of 1994: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

NAfME 2014: Performing 

NAfME standard of 1994: Reading and notating music.

NAfME 2014: Creating 

NAfME standard of 1994: Listening to, analyzing and describing music.

NAfME 2014: Responding




Students will know how where the downbeats lie in various rhythmic patters. Students will have a better understanding as to how rhythms relate to a steady pulse.


The teacher will write up a worksheet using notation software with various four-bar rhythmic patterns (without pitch). The teacher will show the students rules for how standard notation shows where downbeats are in rhythms.
Students will then have to indicate with a down arrow where the downbeats lie in the music.
After going over the downbeats, the teacher and students will sing with rhythm solfege each of the rhythms and then play the rhythms on their instruments.


Most assessment is informal as the teacher will listen to the group sing the rhythms and listen for common mistakes. However, the worksheet can be formally corrected to make sure all students understand where the downbeats lie in the notation.

Follow Up:

The same lesson can be done with various meters and with increasing degrees of rhythmic complexity.
After doing several of these lessons, the teacher can create sight reading worksheets which do have different pitches to work with corresponding rhythm sheets.

Items to Purchase:

The teacher must have access to notation software, a photocopier, and paper.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top