Teaching Rhythmic Literacy in Rehearsal

Dr. Jason Bishop
R&S Chair for Youth & Student Activities

Like many choral conductors I’m sure, I begin nearly every new semester by making some change to my bag of rehearsal tricks. Whether it’s a small tweak or a major overhaul, exploring fresh new methods for addressing the same challenges keeps our rehearsals dynamic and deepens our understanding of our craft.

This semester, if you find yourself seeking a different method for teaching rhythmic literacy or strengthening rhythmic accuracy, I might suggest you check out  Takadimi.net, which provides multiple resources for employing the rhythmic literacy system known as Takadimi in your classes and rehearsals. Developed by Richard Hoffman, William Pelto, and John W. White in 1996, Takadimi is a beat-oriented language for teaching rhythmic literacy that fuses some of the best attributes of more familiar rhythmic systems (such as Kodály or Gordon) into a self-contained methodology. One of Takadimi’s key features is that it eliminates the possibility of duplicating syllabic patterns for distinctly different rhythms, thereby allowing singers to associate common rhythmic figures with combinations of syllables that are unique to those rhythms.

At Takadimi.net, you can read the article unveiling the system in the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy, as well as access different teaching tools, read teacher testimonials, download a concise and very useful handout for summarizing the system, and more. I give credit to Carol Krueger, a well known musical literacy guru in our field, for inspiring me to learn more about this system. I began using it in my own rehearsals about a year ago at every level, and it has yielded tremendous results.

I look forward to seeing many choral friends at the national conference in Salt Lake City next month. In the midst of enjoying inspirational concerts and informative sessions, be sure to go watch the conducting competition, make an appointment with one of the 40+ conductors offering Face-to-Face sessions, and attend the Youth & Student Activities Roundtable on Saturday morning. See you in Utah!