Echo Playing

By Activity Bank on Nov 14, 2013

This activity has been revised and was originally created by Judith E. Bevans and published in the Perkins Activity and Resource Guide (1st edition, Volume 2, 1992).  The second edition is available for purchase.

Music is an excellent tool for teaching students to follow directions and work on listening skills. Additionally, this activity works to improve auditory processing, short-term memory, and a sense of rhythm. Lessons include The Arts, Social Skills, and English Language Arts.


One or two drums


  • Student and teacher each have drums, or share one drum. The direction is given to listen and then do the same.
  • The teacher plays a four-beat rhythm pattern, such as “One, two, buckle my shoe” and the student echoes that pattern.
  • The teacher then plays another pattern and the student repeats it.


  • Use other instruments, such as rhythm sticks or wood blocks.
  • Vary dynamics. The student can do the same or opposite dynamic. (“If I play loudly, you play softly.”)
  • For more advanced students, extend the rhythm pattern to eight beats.

Hints: Adding words that fit the rhythm pattern (“One, two, buckle my shoe”) can help students who have a weak sense of rhythm. Also, waiting and listening before playing is more difficult than playing a steady beat or rhythm pattern with the teacher. Echo playing can be preceded by echo singing, or hand-over-hand assistance can be used.