Rhythm Cup Explorations Review

Rhythm Cup Explorations Review

Last night I unexpectedly had to teach an hour lesson to a student who normally has thirty minutes. It was the end of the day, and I had only prepped for a thirty minute lesson, so I had to think quickly about how to best use that extra time. Earlier this week, I had received the last installment of Wendy Steven’s Compose Create March Music Madness: it was a sample version of her new Rhythm Cup Explorations game. It was the perfect activity, and I just so happened to have a stack of red solo cups left over from last year’s summer camps.


Have you ever heard of the “Cups Song” from Pitch Perfect? Several of my students know how to do it, and they performed it last year at our Musical Olympics Summer Camp. If you’re not familiar with it, check out this video. Rhythm Cup Explorations takes an already familiar and popular concept and makes it into a really fun learning experience. There are 4 Units of rhythms based on the following rhythmic values: 1) Quarter and Half Notes/Rests, 2) Eighth Notes/Rests, 3) Triplets, and 4) Sixteenth Notes.

In the full version of the game there are 3 Levels in each Unit. As students progress through the levels, they learn how to count more difficult combinations. For example: in Unit 3 (triplets), the first level uses only triplets and quarter notes, the second level incorporates paired eighth notes, and the final level incorporates rests.

Here’s a sample of the Unit 1, which focuses on Quarter and Half notes:


The concept of the game is simple: follow the directions and tap the cup on the table (or with your hand) with the rhythm shown. The tricky part comes in when you have to pass your cup to the other player, pick up the cup that they’ve passed to you, and then repeat the exercise without interruption. After a few cups shooting across the room, and a lot of laughter, my student and I decided to spend time just practicing our passing technique!

This was a fantastic way to work on rhythm, especially because it requires students to split the rhythm into different activities with left hand / right hand (and the cup, of course). I’m excited to start working on Unit 4 with some of my older students next week. In this final unit, students have to switch between tapping their hands on the table, and tapping the bottom / top of the cup. This is a great alternative to simply clapping rhythms.

Check out Wendy’s video to see what the game looks like:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0TaPzT9ZRQ&w=560&h=315]

Another aspect that I really liked about this game was that set-up was very minimal. We used my laptop to view the game (try it in “Full Screen Mode”), and put a “table” between us. My desk is attached to the wall, so it was too difficult to use during the passing portion of the game. Instead, we used the second piano bench as a low “table.” After working the rhythms for a while, I could feel a bit of stress in my lower back, so I wouldn’t suggest trying that for a long period of time! Next time, I’ll be sure to bring a small table into the studio.

At only $10.99, this reproducible resource is a crazy bargain. I plan on sending my students home with a page next week so that they can practice with their siblings and friends. I’m also going to work these activities into my summer events. This would make a fantastic performance on the final day of camp! Bonus: Rhythm Cup Explorations is on sale today! If you buy it before the end of today, you’ll save $1. Trust me, it’s well worth it!

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