Beam Fever

Some students just think quavers (eighth notes) are a license to play as quickly as possible. These students don’t understand the relative nature of all note values.

Beam Fever: Relative Rhythms

Revealing the relationship between the different note values should give your student a more precise definition than quavers (eighth notes) = fast, and there’s no better way to show the relative nature than these rhythm cards.


Many rhythm activities can be done to reinforce the relationships using these cards. Be inventive with how you use them and make them a regular part of your teaching.

For starters try:

  • Composing and constructing rhythm together.
  • Matching numbers of note values to each other (E.g. how many quavers can we fit in this dotted minim?)
  • Dictating rhythms.
  • Experimenting with different time signatures.

Download the printable relative rhythm cards by clicking here. Cut these along the dotted lines and laminate if you can.

Beam Fever: Become a Lyricist

Involve your student in the lyric writing and she’ll be more invested in the piece. Composing lyrics is a much more musical way of fixing errant quavers (eighth notes) than simply counting or using a metronome.


  • Play a problem section of your student’s piece for her, several times.
  • Clap the rhythm of this section together several times.
  • Ask her what words might fit with that rhythm. Guide her as needed to words that make sense but encourage her to come up with them herself.
  • If she has trouble coming up with lyrics, ask for her favourite food, hobby, sport or TV show and coming with lyrics together around that topic.
  • Write the lyrics on the score.
  • Clap the rhythm again together while saying the lyrics.
  • Ask her to clap and say the lyrics alone.
  • Ask her to play the rhythm on just one key on the piano while saying the lyrics.
  • Finally, ask her to play the correct notes while saying the lyrics.
  • Repeat this for each of the troublesome sections. Whenever a rhythm is repeated, use the same lyrics as before.
  • Write CLAP – ONE NOTE – PLAY at the top of your student’s music. These are the practice steps she should follow at home for each section with lyrics. Ask her to explain to you how this works so you’re sure she can follow the steps at home.

Download a printable version of the Become a Lyricist steps here.