Practicing Pulse: Copying a puppet

I was introduced to puppet copying in my Orff training and I use it all the time with students ages 4-8. It’s engaging and extremely effective. You play a piece of recorded music, use a puppet to demonstrate the pulse, and have the kids copy the puppet. It’s that easy. The video shows how I introduce the puppet and some of the moves I do.

As students get better at identifying and showing pulse, I work in an assessment; I stop moving the puppet partway through a song and have the students continue showing the pulse on their own. I have a shtick about how Simone (my puppet) is really tired because she stayed up too late the night before playing video games. When I stop moving her, it’s because she’s fallen asleep. Students enjoy the storyline, and I get to see how they’re doing with identifying and following pulse.

With younger students it’s almost impossible to spend too much time on pulse, which is why I have so many activities to practice this skill. It’s a critical music fundamental that shows up regularly in state music ed standards, and it’s also associated with strong reading skills. If you use a puppet in your classes I’d love to see pics or video. Happy teaching!