Lesson 2: Exploring “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”

Aim: How can we explore backbeat by moving to “I Heard It Through the Grapevine?”
Summary: Students learn to sing and move along to “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” while building vocabulary to describe musical opposites and differences.
Materials: Music Explorers CD or online audio
Time Required: 30 minutes (three 10-minute activities)
Standards: GA: MK-2GM.1, MK-2GM.6, MK-2GM.7, MK-2GM.6, MK-2GM.9,MK-2GM.10
SC: MGK-2.1, MGK-2.2, MGK-2.3, MGK-2.5, MG6
Vocabulary: strong/weak, backbeat

Explore the Backbeat in “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”

  • Listen to “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” ( Track 8).
  • Pat the steady beat while listening to the song. Pat and count each beat up to four: 1, 2, 3, 4. Then repeat.
    • Not all beats are the same, some are strong and some are weak. Which beats sound strong to you? 
  • When the strong beat falls on beats 2 and 4, that is called the backbeat. Soul music combines soulful singing and a strong backbeat. 
  • Listen to the backbeat of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” ( Track 9).

    Pat or clap with the music on beats 2 and 4 only.


Moving with the Backbeat

  • Practice moving your hands with the backbeat.
  • Raise your right hand on beat 2, and your left hand on beat 4, like the pictures below. Challenge your students to get faster while still staying together as a group.
  • Once your students have mastered moving their hands with the backbeat, challenge them by teaching the grapevine on SG9.


Music Teacher Extension: Long and Short Rhythm Patterns

  • Demonstrate long and short sounds by clapping or singing patterns.
  • Have students echo the long and short patterns by using their voices and movements. (Examples: scrape for long, tap for short; slide for long, hop for short; rub hands together for long, clap for short)
  • Have students perform their short and long compositions using their voices, instruments, clapping, or movements. They may also choose animals to represent the short and long sounds. (Examples: “moo” for long and “quack” for short)
  • Using SG10, ask students to draw their own symbols for long and short sounds.
  • Choose examples and have the class perform the rhythmic patterns together.


Musical Word Wall

Add the words strong/weak and backbeat to the Musical Word Wall.


PDF Downloads

SG9 ↓ Download File
SG10 ↓ Download File


Musical Explorers Audio Tracks