A middle-schooler was playing all the right notes, but some wrong rhythms, and despite several tries, he couldn't identify rhythm as the problem he was having. I did a little exercise to show him the importance of rhythm in music...
ME: (plays "The Star-Spangled Banner" entirely in quarter notes) Now, what song was that?
KID: No clue.
ME: Probably because it was all one rhythm. Now, here it is with the proper rhythm (plays song properly). Do you recognize it now?
KID: Yeah! It's the State of Texas song!