Saturday, May 22, 2010

Clap Slap Step Stomp - The Sad Tale of The Rhythm Kids

Always willing to lend a hand, I did a little favor for a friend of mine who teaches music to grade school kids. These are illustrations for a rhythm lesson she's teaching to a kindergarten class. The idea, as it was explained to me, is to get the kids to perform a series of different moves in rhythm with various songs. Clap, clap, stomp, step, slap, get it. Although it sounds like a good teaching tool and a fun game for the kids, I think the real goal of this exercise is to exhaust the children so they'll stop running around like sugar-addicted baboons.

And, though it wasn't necessarily a requirement of the project, I gave each of these characters a little back story to make it interesting for me. So...

This is Harvey Clapton. Once a promising child actor, Harvey grew into a sullen teen with a foul temper and even worse breath. At the age of 19, having been fired from a string of low-paying, menial jobs, he ultimately found employment at a puzzle factory where he lost his left hand in a bizarre jigsaw accident. He would never clap again.

This is Rebecca Slapski. She was a perfect little girl with perfect grades and perfect attendance at grade school. But stooping constantly to slap her thighs worsened an undiagnosed spinal condition. By the age of 15 she would be permanently bent at the waist, unable to straighten up. Never a quitter, Rebecca thrived in a series of jobs where her handicap would prove useful -- gardener, softball umpire, worm collector, etc. Today she lives in London where she makes a comfortable living cleaning baseboards for a wealthy clientele.

Meet Rhoda Jean Stepford. Despite her prim, girlish appearance, Rhoda Jean's tastes ran to the decidedly un-ladylike. Her favorite pastime? Squishing bugs. No beetle, ant, caterpillar or spider could escape her wrath. It's said that, in her neighborhood, even the worms refused to surface after a rainstorm. Ironically, Rhoda Jean was killed at the age of 25 when a giant loafer fell from a shoe store billboard and squashed her flat.

Finally, we have Stephen Stompowitz. Stephen was an outgoing boy with many friends. An avid hopscotch player, he made it to the state hopscotch finals in the fourth grade where he took second place. As an adult, Stephen moved into a high-rise condo in New York city where he continued his stomping. Though this often caused problems for his downstairs neighbors, Stephen refused to stop stomping. That is, until a 7-foot professional wrestler moved into the apartment below Stephen's. To this day, they have not been able to untie Stephen from the human pretzel Battling Bruno twisted him into.

So that's the story of four promising kids with great rhythm and how their lives turned out. I hope this helps those kindergarten kids learn rhythm. I'm sick of seeing five and six year olds walking around with no rhythm. As for the illustrations, there's not a lot of difference between the finished pieces and the original sketches, but I've included the work-in-progress steps if anyone's interested. -v


  1. Hello Vince, I came across this set of drawings while I was browsing for pictures I could use for an educational purpose video lesson plan. I was wondering if I could include your clap and slap in my power point file. Please let me know. Thank you.


    1. Cheri, glad you like the kids. I emailed a response about this, but if you didn't get it, feel free to contact me at my illustration site and we can work out the details. My email there is Thanks.


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