Drum and Hoop

First Hoop and Drum Lesson


This is part of a series of lessons using hula hoops as a prop, for movement, drumming, improvisation and building teamwork. There activities focus on phrases, rhythmic perception, and listening skills. The rhythm is adapted from the Rhythmische Ubung by Keetman, number 20.


Game 1—Phrases

  • Everyone has a hula hoop to stand in.
  • Stand inside your hula hoop (that is “home)
  • Listen to the drum pattern (played on Tubano).
  • When the drum plays you are invited to walk around your hoop.
  • When the rhythm is over, step back into your hoop.
  • Try again and find the ending of the patterns as a signal to step into the hoop.
  • Can you step into the hoop at that last strike?
  • The rhythm is repeated (played twice). Listen to the rhythm again. It is twice as long.
  • Can you anticipate the end of the longer pattern to step into your hoop? Is it easier or
  • harder to do?
  • At the repeat, there will be a 4-tap signal (accented) indicating the repetition of the
  • pattern.
  • Walk away from the drum and when you hear that signal, start returning to your hoop.
  • Find a pathway away from your hoop. Where will you go and how will you find you
  • way back “home.”
  • This time, find a new hoop to return to (like going to Orlando and starting in one theme
  • park, but then moving to a new one!).
  • Clap on those 4-tap signal to return to the hoops.
  • Invite a student to play the drum emphasizing the 4-tap signal. The rhythm might change
  • a bit.
  • Walk to the steady beat to and from the hoops.

Game 2—Listening/Cooperation

  • Listen again to the rhythm (Rhythmische Ubung #20)
  • After the rhythm is played, you will hear a signal for how many feet should step in a
  • hoop.
  • Rhythm….signal…go to a hoop
  • How will you solve the problem of three feet in a circle?
  • How will you solve the problem of 5 or more feet in the hoop? (The group in the video
  • only had 6 class members).
  • Cooperate with the others in the group to find a solution to this challenge.
  • A student leads the rhythm
  • A new student plays a tambourine to decide “how many feet” go into a hoop
  • Add other instruments to accompany the basic rhythm (for instance, a guiro or
  • woodblock).


  • Other pieces from the Orff Schulwerk, the Rhythmische Ubung could be used for this
  • activity.
  • With a larger group, a recorder might improvise a melody to accompany the rhythm.
  • Though not ideal, a recording could play and stop (at a phrase) and then have the teacher
  • or a student could signal how many feet should step in a hoop.
  • The rhythm could be played as an improvised or composed melody.
  • The class could create their own rhythm for this activity (or beat box a rhythm). This
  • could be created with speech or rhythmic building blocks.
  • A hand drum might lead this activity rather than a tubano.
  • Rather than clapping on the 4 sounds, the group could play their drums (the group
  • eventually did this).
  • Walking around the room could include keeping a beat on the drums or choreographing a
  • dance as the class walks with the drum.
  • The original rhythm could be explored on temple blocks or with the sound gestures
  • suggested by Keetman (right and left laps).

Robert Amchin

Rob Amchin is Professor of Music Education at the University of Louisville (KY). He studied Orff pedagogy at New England Conservatory of Music, Hofstra University, Memphis State, Hamline University, University of Michigan, and the Orff Institute (Salzburg). He has presented Orff-based workshops nationally and around the world, for nearly 40 years including presentations in throughout the United States, China, Canada, Russia, Hong Kong, Poland, Austria, Israel, Finland and Singapore all focusing on Orff-based general music pedagogy music and movement pedagogy. He is author of books related to Orff Schulwerk and general music. He is the level I, II and III pedagogy and Master Class teacher at many summer programs around the country.

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  1. Nancy Davis on April 12, 2023 at 1:51 pm

    I love this and am excited to do this with my students!

  2. Sarah Farrell on April 12, 2023 at 10:05 pm

    This is perfect. Thank you for sharing it! I also like that it can be a way of introducing a rhythmic pattern they might later learn to perform.

  3. Laura on April 23, 2023 at 5:39 pm

    Thank you. I didn’t have hoops so I did it with poly spots!

  4. Linda Orlandi on May 25, 2023 at 3:32 pm

    Where do you buy these tiny hula hoops?

  5. Jon Place on September 8, 2023 at 7:40 am

    Awesome, thank you! I like how this is something that can be done with all ages / grades! I love the game/play format for teaching rhythms!

  6. Holly Trinnaman on March 21, 2024 at 1:58 pm

    Really appreciated this lesson and the demonstration video. I used portions of it with Pre-K today and it was really useful for teaching listening/gross motor skills/problem solving. Thank you!

  7. Monique on May 24, 2024 at 1:25 pm

    Love this! I’m currently using this lesson as part of a dance unit to introduce space and pathways. It’s a big hit!

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