Rhythm Blocks

I have been wanting to make these for years, ever since I read about them in the book “A Galaxy of Games for the Music Class.” (A WONDERFUL resource, by the way!) They are great for showing the relationships between note values, rhythmic dictation, and are just a lot of fun in general. Here are the steps in making these blocks.

First, I bought 7 1/2 feet of 3/4 inch square pine. It was cut to the following lenghts:
8th note: 1 inch (cut 4)
Quarter note: 2″ (cut eight)
Dotted Quarter note: 3″ (cut 4)
Half Note: 4″ (cut 4)
Dotted Half Note: 6 inches (cut 4)
Whole Note: 8 inches (cut 2)

Next, I painted them. You wouldn’t need to do this, but I like the bright colors, and wanted easy identification of the different lengths of blocks.

Using a black sharpie marker, I drew notes and rests on each of the blocks. On the quarter note blocks, I drew a quarter note on 2 sides, a quarter rest on 1 side, and 2 eighth notes on the remaining side. The notes don’t show up well in the picture, but they do in real life.

Here are a few activities that can be done with these: (you may want 2 or more sets for group activities)

The teacher chants or plays a rhythmic pattern, and the student notates it with their blocks. This can also be done as a competition between 2 students or 2 teams.

The teacher gives a certain number of beats, such as 8. A student notates with the blocks the exact number of beats the teacher has called.

The teacher gives the student a set of parameters, such as 3 measures in 4/4 time. Student builds the set number of measures. This is fun for a group of students as well.

Another added bonus of these blocks – they are wonderful for entertaining little boys while their mommy updates her blog!

13 Responses

  1. I LOVE these, D’Net! That will definitely be my next project! Did you cut the lengths yourself or have them do it for you where you bought the lumber?

  2. These are wonderful. Did you have to sand them down before painting? would special paint be necessary? I am a total idiot when it comes to arts and crafts!



  3. I had my husband show me how to cut them. He has a miter saw that made it a fast job. I did sand the blocks – mostly the ends before I painted them. I just used the inexpensive craft paint from Wal-mart to paint them. Also, if you use a hardwood instead of pine you will get cleaner cuts that need less sanding, but the cost will be more. The pine wood I used was less than $5. Now I need to make me a couple more sets. 🙂

  4. This is a wonderful site that I found out about on The
    Piano Education Page. Is it OK to copy the ideas?
    How do you do that?

  5. You can also make a simple version of these with jenga blocks, wood glue, and paint. Use one block per 1/2 a count and glue them together to make larger units. Paint the type of note on the corresponding blocks.

  6. […] Rhythm Cards Posted on September 9, 2008 by DNet I made wood Rhythm Blocks of various lenghts to represent the different note values, and thought some paper ones would be […]

  7. Very nice. I think LEGO-blocks might work as well!

  8. I read this a few months ago and thought it would be a little too involved for me. Then just now I remembered that I purchased some Cuisenaire rods on ebay to help my granddaughter understand math concepts. Well, she’s not interested in the rods, but they will be perfect for these rhythm blocks! : )

  9. What a great idea, Ginger! That would simplify things so much!

  10. I made some of these a while back, but instead of wood blocks, I cut them out of brightly colored posterboard, then laminated them. I love the fresh ideas you have for using them!

    Another idea for a game (my students LOVE this one) is to play “stump the teacher.” They make the trickiest rhythm they can, and then I play it for them using a hand-drum. More often than not, I purposely make a mistake and let them enjoy being the teacher for a little while.

  11. Thank you for the useful information.

  12. I would absolutely buy this from you!

  13. Reblogged this on everyonemakesmusic and commented:

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