Music is an important thing to teach your children. Here is a lesson in teaching your children about basic rhythm. It is recommended to get your children in 10 years of music lessons as it aids in brain development. You can check out my post on the subject. When I first got married and moved to a new town for me, I taught kindergarten at a small private school. After a year of that I talked to the principal and explained that I wouldn’t continue the second year because I really didn’t feel like kindergarten was a good fit for me. She asked what I would do if I could create my own position at the school. I said I would probably enjoy teaching the arts. They didn’t have anyone doing that, and she embraced the concept. I signed on for another year where I was teaching some music and art as well as floating around and working with kids and teachers in a variety of ways. It really was more my style and a better fit for me. One of the classes I taught was music to the younger kids. I have a small background in music. I have done a lot of musical theatre and pursued music through voice lessons, choirs and our school’s select jazz choir. I also tried my hand at instruments. I tried my hand at the clarinet, trumpet, trombone, guitar and piano before I realized I had absolutely no musical talent with an instrument other than my voice. I had enough history to be able to teach the basics. One of the lessons I did with my students was a lesson on rhythm. I did that lesson with my kids recently too.
I don’t know your background in music. You may not know much at all. I will try and break it down in simple terms. How I explained rhythm to my kids is that music has a heartbeat. The first thing we did was try and find our own heartbeats in our necks. I then sang a couple different songs and tapped the basic beat on my leg. They began to tap along too. I explained that is the heartbeat of the song.
I worked with them on the real basics here. Having the 4 hearts represents that we are in a 4/4 time signature. I didn’t explain that to them today, but I’ll attempt to explain it to you so you have some basic understanding. In 4/4 time signature the top number tells you there are four beats in a measure. The four on the bottom indicates the quarter note is worth one beat.
A quarter note is represented in music by a solid black dot and a stem. It receives one count or one beat. If you saw four quarter notes in a 4/4 measure it would be a basic beat 1-2-3-4. In my lesson I represent the quarter note with the single straw and the word “ta.” You will see the quarter note representation in the first heart.
The symbol in the second heart represents a rest for the same length as the quarter note.
The two straws in the third heart represent eighth notes. An eighth note is represented in music with a dot with a stem and tail at the top. Two of these are often put together and joined by a line across while removing the tail. Above is what you’d see in music to represent what you see in the third heart. This means there are two counts per beat. I represent this with two straws and the words ti-ti. Remember that for every beat of a measure in 4/4 time you’d have either one quarter notes, one rest or two eighth notes (in this scenario). I didn’t get into these terms with the kids. In my lesson I said that you had to fit the ti ti in the same amount of time you fit the ta. Is this making any sense?
Let’s go back to the image above to help clarify. You’d want your kids to start by understanding the heartbeat can be clapped by a rhythmic 4 count. Then, you teach the ta, ti ti, and rest. Basically, counting the image above would go ta, rest, ti-ti, ta. I had my kids clap out the rhythm while saying the words. They would spread their arms open for the rest.
My husband just looked over my shoulder while I wrote this and said, “Time for a YouTube video.” He might be right, and I’ll see if I have time to get one up for you.
I would move the straws around in a number of different combinations using only the notes and rest I taught you today. It gets a lot more involved from there, but this is a great place to start with kids and teaching basic rhythm. The girls also enjoyed moving the straws around to make up their own beats. It was a really fun lesson for us all. My husband, the drummer, was there for the lesson and enjoyed it as well.