Understanding Rhythm for Kids
Rhythm is the first thing I try to involve children with musically. It is the simplest form of musical structure and gives a child countless opportunities to join in through it’s constant repetition. It is also the most instinctive component of music.
Rhythmical repetition is something that our bodies respond to naturally every day, whether we notice or not. Our own heart beat is a drum that beats continuously, and even it is influenced by the music we hear. Play a fast song with a loud beat and you will find your own heart beat begins to race. Play a slow song or one with no discernible beat and your own heart rate will slow.
We innately understand rhythm but need to be shown a reference to understand how that understanding is linked to music. Depending on the age of the child, it can be demonstrated through their own bodies. Very young children can be shown this by holding their hands with your own and clapping their hands for them in time to music.
- Try clapping along with your child to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. One soft clap for every syllable you sing.
- Try doing knee slap, then clap and repeat over and over.
- Then do this same action but clap the other person’s hands instead of your own. This will involve the two of you playing the game together.
- With slightly older children you can take this one step further and start making more complex rhythms for them to copy. Do the rhythm three times, and ask them to repeat it. Eventually you can encourage them to make up a rhythm for you to copy too.
- Walking on the spot is the perfect way of feeling a rhythm. You might even be able to turn marching into a regular game that you do out and about as well as at home.
- Skipping from foot to foot is a different rhythm that takes children a little while to master. But understanding the rhythm of the move is a great way to instill rhythm into their every move.
- You can do step, step, STOMP (pause) then repeat.
- While walking to daycare, my own children and I play a walking game which works to reinforce different rhythms. We take turns calling out actions for the other to copy. Skipping, marching, stomping etc. It makes for an enjoyable walk full of fun and laughter.
What other ways can you think of to demonstrate rhythm in your every day life? Let me know!
Read more articles by me about introducing kids to music: