Traffic Lights

Ready ... Steady ... Gooooooooooo!!! These fun rhythms will keep you busy while you wait for the green light! Try clapping them first, then play with the bow.

Scroll down the page for a text version

Traffic Lights - Open Strings - NEW VERSION - ViolinSchool.pdf

Rhythm & Pulse

'Traffic Lights’ is great for practising rhythms whilst keeping a really solid, steady pulse. The piece is made up of quarter notes (or crotchets), and eighth notes (or quavers). The 'squiggly' symbol at the end of each line is a quarter note (or crotchet) rest, which means one beat of silence.

The Time Signature is 4/4 which means there are four quarter note beats in each bar. Eighth notes are twice as fast as quarter notes, so there are two of those in each beat, dividing the beat exactly in half. When we chop up the beat into smaller units … that’s called subdividing.


Definition: SUBDIVIDE – To divide a beat, or rhythmic unit, into smaller, equal rhythmic units. The smaller unit is called the 'subdivision'.


Clapping Exercises

Before playing the piece on the violin, let’s try clapping the rhythms first. The metronome mark tells us the speed, or the tempo, of the piece. In this piece, it’s 100 beats per minute, so set the metronome to 100 beats per minute.

Feel the pulse, then start clapping after a count of four. Clap through the whole piece. Now, try it again, this time without the metronome. You'll need to rely on your ‘inner metronome’, your inner sense of pulse...

Rhythm Exercises

To strengthen our sense of pulse and to really internalise the rhythm of the piece, let’s do some rhythm exercises …

1) Count the Beats

First, try counting the beats out loud whilst clapping. Say ‘one’, ‘two’, ‘three’, ‘four’ as you clap.

2) Slap the Rhythm

Now, take a seat, and try slapping the rhythm on your legs! Put your left hand on your left leg, and your right hand on your right leg. Get the quarter note beat going with your left hand, then try slapping the rhythm of the piece with your right hand.

Switch Hands

Then try the same thing, except this time, keep the beat with your right hand and do the rhythm of the piece with your left hand!

Play on the Violin

Now you've got the rhythm well and truly in your bones, and the heartbeat of the piece is nice and regular... try playing it on the violin!