Reading and Rhythm Training

I am so excited!  Today 8 colleagues and I are going to become trained in a program called Reading and Rhythm.  It incorporates the natural tendencies of rhythm in spoken and written word and helps those who struggle to find more fluency in their reading.  In addition, it helps build students’ comprehension and vocabulary.

Stephanie Yao Long / The Oregonian

Where does this program originate?  Based in Santa Monica, California, prodigy drummer, Steven Angel is the founder of the Drumming for Your Life Institute, a non-profit organization that is

dedicated to using the power of rhythm to help children and youth develop the emotional, academic, and social skills needed to succeed in school and in life.”

Wow!  How awesome, right?

I’ve been able to watch first hand how music and drumming can transform a person in a moment.  Watched how drumming can build bonds, mesmerize and even bring people to tears. And now, I’m going to learn how to use the power of rhythm, a natural element of our existence, help students to read.  I.  Am.  Exploding with excitement.

So for the next week, our facilitator will be training us and then working with us in our classrooms each day for 30 minutes as we implement the program with students.  We have classroom teachers, a reading specialist, a special ed teacher, an ELL teacher, a technology, music and library teacher.  We plan to work with whole classes and small groups of struggling students.  Yesterday we worked to get a baseline of reading ability using both Dibels and Daze testing.  At the end of six weeks, we will assess the students again and see their growth.

Will we see growth?  I believe in my heart of hearts that we will.  This makes so much sense to me: use rhythm to create momentum and move students forward so that their fluency improves and with it, their comprehension.  There is so much I will be learning today and this week!

Need to know more?  (I don’t blame you!)  Please watch this video and then add a comment about what you think of this program.  I will be coming back here throughout the week to update you on our progress in the comments and hope you will join in on the conversation.

I am looking forward to an exhilarating and powerful week!


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Article by Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth Peterson has devoted her life to education and to reaching out to other teachers who want to remain inspired. Mrs. Peterson teaches fourth grade in Amesbury, Massachusetts and is the host of She holds an M.Ed. in Education, “Arts and Learning” and a C.A.G.S. degree with a focus in “Arts Leadership and Learning.” Elizabeth is author of Inspired by Listening, a teacher resource book that includes a method of music integration she has developed and implemented into her own teaching. She teaches workshops and courses on the integration of the arts into the curriculum and organizes the annual summer Teacher Art Retreat. Mrs. Peterson believes there is a love of active, integrated learning in all children and from their enthusiasm, teachers can shape great opportunities to learn.
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  1. Elizabeth says:

    I had a blast learning these new techniques to help students read more fluently. I can’t believe we will finally be able to put them into practice after such a long time of working to get the program here. I am ready to introduce it to my class as a whole and then implement it to small groups and individual students.

    I’m sure the rhythms will help them to center and focus. I’m most excited to talk to the students and get their reactions to the new methods!

    • Mrs. Barnaby says:

      What has been student reaction to the method? What has been the reaction of your colleagues? A shout out to Janet J who has been very supported of the specialists, who do not have easy access to leveled readers, and provided daily passages for our training. Will we reconvene to just discuss our progress or answer questions?

  2. Ann says:

    I also had a blast today in training. I must admit, I was very skeptical and unsure of this program. After looking at the video, I couldn’t imagine my students being able to read with all that drumming distraction. But, after the training, the rhythm philosophy makes sense. It helps students to break through the uncertainties and fear of being wrong as the beats help to propel them forward in their reading. I am excited to continue the next steps with our trainer working directly with groups.

    • Mrs. Barnaby says:

      I just had an “aha” reading your post. Perhaps, the distraction of the beat, will dispel their fear or anxieties, hopefully not redirect them at me. I just feel that one of them will one day say “Could you please stop beating, so I can read?” May I come watch one of your groups this am? Please……..

  3. Deb says:

    Just tried out what I learned yesterday about rhythm and reading with my small group. They caught right on to the feeling of “focus” after participating in the Pulse Beat and could feel the energy being pushed into their reading with the Reading Beat. I cannot wait to see what changes occur in our post data. I have read that music and the part of the brain that is used in reading are in close proximity so this should be a very interesting training!

  4. Johanna says:

    I was nervous going into Day 1 with my reading group yesterday after our training with Rex, but found I remembered more than I expected about the suggested flow of our time together. During our Group Read, I really felt the momentum that the Reading and Rhythm beat gave to the students’ reading of the selected text. It is exciting as a music teacher to see how Rhythm can benefit other disciplines, and so nice to work with students as an enrichment block!

  5. Mrs. Barnaby says:

    It’s Friday, and I am going over vocabulary/spelling format early in the am. Although still apprehensive, forging ahead. I have a interesting group of 3 kids and we are still focusing on the beat. Have reviewed rules, introduced pulse and reading rhythm beat, group reading, and an abbreviated individual read. Have found that my small group is comprehending the text. May attempt the vocabulary lesson or spelling rhythm. Rex has been there to answer questions or to model uncertain aspects of the format. All good:)

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