Rhythm Menagerie™ Book 1 by Wendy Stevens

How would you like your music students to be proficient in playing and counting rhythm patterns, and have fun doing it?

Wendy Stevens has written and recently published the resource Rhythm Menagerie™, Reproducible Rhythm Explorations, a book to sequentially learn how to be an independent rhythm reader. Recently she sent me the book to give it a look-over and try out with my students.

I think as music teachers we want our students to be able to work out rhythms on their own and not rely on copying or learning by rote. Not only is this book very attractive with an easy to follow layout, but it is so comprehensive that students who use it diligently will certainly become independent rhythmically.

Rhythm Menagerie is 92 pages long, with 8 chapters. Each chapter features a new rhythm problem, starting with quarter and half notes and going all the way to dotted quarter notes. The book will have students enjoying themselves as they play rhythms in a fun and imaginative way. Students will also like the attractive graphics of unusual animals, with interesting information about each one. The graphics are suitable for all ages of piano students, good news for those of use with older beginners.

Have you ever noticed that some students are so concerned about the notes that their rhythm and steady beat is all over the place, and not in a good way? Wendy says that students will learn to read rhythms easier and be more successful if they are not also trying to play notes at the same time.

Rhythm Menagerie is an excellent resource to use along with a regular lesson book at a private lesson, but it can also be adapted for groups, such as a summer music camp. Home school families who want to introduce some music into their curriculum might also find this book useful.

After downloading the book, Wendy suggests printing out one page a week to use at the lesson and gradually work on rhythm skills throughout the year. I think that if you use the book with an older beginner, you can speed up the pace considerably.

Wendy’s book can be purchased and printed directly from her website. Once you have purchased the book, you can print it on your computer to use with your students again and again, and of course adapt it for your needs.

If you order the book before Sept. 20, you will receive a discount. Take a look at her the inside of her book here, and don’t forget to watch the cute video she made showing some of her students having fun with Rhythm Menagerie.

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One thought to “Rhythm Menagerie™ – a Review”

  • Dustin

    Sounds like a fun book. I wanted to quote this little passage as it is so important for piano teachers to realize that beginners always focus on the NOTES instead of focusing on other more important things like rhythm.

    “Wendy says that students will learn to read rhythms easier and be more successful if they are not also trying to play notes at the same time.”

    The reason is that wrong notes are so easy to realize as a beginner with the harsh sound or out of place sound.

    I have 2 methods for preventing this. Have the child … on purpose … play large chunks of the piece with wrong notes. I tell them to close their eyes and I place their hands on random spots of the keyboard and then they play the contours of the piece in relationship to where their hands start. This teaches them it’s OK to play wrong notes when focusing on other things.

    The other is to use shakers and moraccas , wooden sticks to tap out the rhythms away from the keyboard. Both methods they just love doing.


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