In my music classes, I introduce conducting patterns for 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4 time signatures beginning in fourth grade and continuing review until sixth grade. Students this age like taking the part of the leader of a group, and we practice conducting as a class to recorded music for each time signature.
Why spaghetti? Here are some benefits:
- The breakable nature of spaghetti makes the students pay extra careful attention to their movements and reminds them not to be haphazard. I challenge the students to be "spaghetti survivors" and to have their entire length of spaghetti intact by the end of the activity.
- Cheap materials!! There are probably thousands of spaghetti strands in a package... I've been using the same package for years.
- The spaghetti helps the students to focus on the beat of the music, more than just conducting with their hands.
The pretzel rods are much tastier to eat when the activity is over...although there is always a handful of students who insist on eating their raw spaghetti!
If you are an instrumental teacher, clue your students in on exactly what you are doing when you conduct. When they get comfortable, allow a deserving student to be your "guest conductor" for a rehearsal, or maybe just for a certain piece of music.