We will begin with this poem (I remember seeing this in a handout 10 years ago somewhere but I don’t remember the exact source):
Make it up as you play,
It’s your turn now play away!
I teach the poem by displaying it on the board and having students read it with me.
We discuss what it means to “improvise.”
Each student gets a hand drum (or distribute them as you have them).
Students stand in a circle, designate one spot in the circle as the “hot spot.” The student in the “hot spot” is allowed to improvise on the hand drum after the class speaks and/or plays the poem.
We all say the poem together and walk in a circle with the beat.
When we get to the end of the poem, the student on or nearest to the “hot spot” is allowed to improvise.
The experience continues as long as students/teacher wish!
If your students are not quite able to improvise at this point or are shy you might want to consider leaving a stack of rhythm cards out or displayed on the board and allow the student to read and play one of the options on the rhythm card instead of improvising an entire pattern themselves.
Have you evern used this poem? What are strategies that you use to get your students improvising musically?