Going beyond tika-tika: which rhythms to teach next?

Rhythms to teach after tika-tika

I decided to write my next blog post about suggestions for which complex rhythms can be introduced after tika-tika.  If you missed my blog post about tika-tika, you can read it here

Don't forget tika-tika!

Before I talk about new rhythms though, alongside preparing and presenting the next rhythm our students need to practice tika-tika.  On the Farmer’s Apple Tree is a great one because it uses just one “tika-tika” but it is harder to extract.  Our students will probably not want to stop at “pick a little” but want to say “pick a little apple”.  For that reason I don’t like to use it for presenting tika-tika but once they’ve learnt it, they’ll find it easier to extract!

Another great thing about this song is it uses low so and low la, which they might have learnt recently, so they’ll even get practice at those pitches!  ​​​​How fabulous!  I talked about teaching low so and low la here and here, in case you missed it and would like to catch up.  One of those blog posts also sets out the game for On the Farmer’s Apple Tree if you’re not already familiar with it.

Bom Makaleli

Let’s warm up our hands! We’re going to slide them across each other and do two clicks in a circle.  Listen to this clip for the rhythm and listen carefully for the hand slides!

Bom Makaleli body percussion

You sing it through and pick a student and sing their name instead of “round and round”

e.g. “Helen, you must go….”

It’s a lovely canon too!  Try it in canon to the recording; when it gets to “Bom makaleli…” you start singing “round and round…”

Investigating rhythm

Let’s tap the beat on our beat fingers…

(sing the song and tap the beat across four fingers)

Just one phrase now 

(round and round you must go)

Is there anything new on in the first phrase?

Let’s check by tapping the rhythm on our beat fingers…

Bom Makaleli on beat fingers

Anything unusual there or are we happy?

(no new rhythms in this phrase)

Let’s say the rhythm instead of the words

(titi ta titi ta)

Lets sing the second phrase on beat fingers….

Then put the rhythm on our beat fingers…

Bom Makaleli on beat fingers 2

Is there anything new?

What’s new?  

(a new rhythm)

Where is the new rhythm?

(On the first beat)

How many sounds on that beat?


Are those 3 sounds even or uneven?


So we have 3 uneven sounds on the beat. 

Some sounds are long, some short.  What pattern of long and short sounds is there?

(Long short short)

So we can have 3 uneven sounds on the beat.  When it’s long short short we call it ti-tika!

We have half the beat and a quarter each on tika.  I wouldn’t want to talk about fractions with younger children! 

Also, if teaching younger children, the above steps might happen over a few weeks.  

Here’s the notation.  Let’s say the rhythm of the whole song.

Bom Makaleli rhythm

Teaching tips for advanced rhythm

When teaching your students, you’d introduce the above steps over a number of weeks and do a tiny bit in each lesson.   It would definitely be too much to introduce this all in one go!  Adapt it to your students and do send me an email to let me know how you get on with it!  I hope I’ve also give you song ideas for these rhythms.

For piano students, by the time they’re at the point where they need to learn tika-tika, unless they’re whizzing ahead with their theory, tika-tika doesn’t really crop up at all in piano music for beginners, or even quite intermediate.  So, if you get a song where there is a complex rhythm, you just need to think ahead and do some work on semiquavers as a fun activity in the weeks before so they’ve understood the concept before the piece with semiquavers is presented. 

A tricky thing to do when every child learns in a different order and at a different speeds.  It’s so easy to look at a new piece and then realise you haven’t prepared the new rhythm!

Sometimes you can get out of it and play it to them and get them to tap the beat and save it until you’ve prepared the concept!

Want more advice and ideas?

If you found this blog useful.  Please comment below if you did or if there is anything you would like to say to me about it.  If you’d like to find out more about preparing your students to learn about pitch and much more, including over a year’s worth of lesson plans for teaching all the important musical skills with Helen’s clear microsteps, why not try out Doremi Membership for 14 days for just £1

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