Using Rhythm for a Group Brain Break

Perhaps you have been at a football game, a concert or another large group entertainment venue when something rhythmic excites the audience−drums, music, clapping, or other rhythmic auditory stimulation unites the audience causing the entire experience to pulsate. The effect resounds because almost everyone is joined around the beat of cheering or music.

Rhythm can unite and motivate

Rhythm exercises can unite and motivate a group. (Photo courtesy of
Rhythm exercises can unite and motivate a group. (Photo courtesy of

It is always interesting to see how events involving music and rhythm draw people together to create such enjoyment. People might sway energetically in unison, no matter their sense of rhythm. Overall, rhythm is an effective way to unite and motivate an entire group of people. This is true because rhythm itself is calming; it puts people in their pre-cortex which results in a strong sense of well-being for the group as a whole.

Such is the case with other types of group brain breaks.

If we were to take this idea of group brain breaks to our classrooms, we would be promoting a greater sense of calm, togetherness and motivation.

Leading a group of children in a classroom can be a fun and creative exercise.  The leader can simply ask the group to follow him or her and tap on a desk in a certain rhythm then have everyone replicate the same sequence of taps. Next, the leader can empower someone else to lead the group in a rhythm session.  Taking turns as leaders can go on for as long as desired until everyone in the room is engaged around the idea of tapping and following the beat.

Small drums or Djembes can be purchased. These are a lot of fun because they have different sounds and more volume. In fact, a variety of sounds can be created by using different instruments or objects to drum allowing participants to create their own version of the musical “Stomp.”

The positive effects of rhythm on the brain

Using rhythm can be a great way to bring brain equilibrium, motivation, and connection while having fun.  Group rhythm exercises provide common tasks that promote a sense of togetherness in a brain-healthy way. Rhythm helps our brains become more regulated so we are better prepared to enjoy learning, processing and doing tasks together.

This is a simple, inexpensive and very effective brain break.  Maybe every class should begin with some form of clapping, drumming or tapping to get everyone in a good group brain space thus creating an environment that is conducive to almost any task at hand.

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

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