Friday, June 8, 2012

Music Skills for Toddlers - Introducing Tempo

It may seem out of reach to introduce young children to more formal types of musical awareness at such an early age - especially if you don't get twitterpaited about classical music for instance. However, its actually fun and easy and you may find yourself just as engaged as your little one in no time at all. You also don't always have to use classical music.

Skill number one - Identify Tempo.

Small children can quickly ascertain slow and fast music. This important skill involves identifying the beat on a basic level and expressing the relative speed of that beat in some way or another.

Some great pieces of music for "fast" and "slow" that ARE NOT CHILDREN's music in the same piece include:

Tchiakovsky's 1812 Overture and In the Hall of the Mountain King are two of our classical favorites in this household.  For the Mountain King, you can use the classical version by an orchestra, or Trent Reznor's arrangement from Social Network (though it might be a little too dissonant for the very young).
Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin
Come Sail Away by Styx
Piano Sonata No. 1, 1st movement by Beethoven
Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
A lot of Pink Floyd has mixed tempos

There are also many songs that are great representations of "fast":
Flight of the Bumblebee from the tale of Tzar Saltan
Ella Fitzgerald's Old MacDonald
Black Mountain Rag by Larry Creel

And of course there are others that are great for "slow" and easy to find - any lullaby will work, many love songs, Imagine by John Lenon, Jackaroo, all would work wonderfully.

I highly suggest that any song with lyrics be listened to carefully before hand - particularly if your child is likely to pay attention and remember the lyrics.  Three of the rock songs listed here have themes with death for example.  It is possible to get many songs (particularly older songs) lyric free - there is even a lullaby rendition of Stairway to Heaven available.

You can also just take multiple songs together for this activity but having one song gives the activity a clear beginning and a clear ending which can be nice. I'm sure there are a million more songs out there with multiple tempos- please add a comment if you think of another I haven't listed here.

There are also plenty of songs that are designed for children with this in mind. For example Jim Along Josie. I actually recommend doing this activity many times with many different pieces of music.  Make sure that some of the time you are using something NOT intended for kids for this activity as it simply helps to expand their music vocabulary to be introduced to a variety of genres of music. For ideas about ways to find great music NOT for kids, click on the link.  If you play some of their favorites as well as introduce them to a variety of genres they'll get the best of both worlds.

Discuss fast and slow with your child. Perhaps even read the tortoise and the hair or a similar story beforehand.

Then play the piece of music you have chosen with multiple tempos. Simply move to the music. You might move like you are in water or stuck in mud (Slow motion) during slow parts and run or speed up the action during fast parts.

Change things up, walking and running, slow hops and fast hops, jumping etc. make it a little bit like follow the leader and let your kids lead, or you be leader and make them laugh after they've gotten the point by going slow during a fast part and let them correct your movements. Make a game out of it in these ways and your kids will think you are the funnest, most hysterical person in their world and they'll be learning something too.

PLEASE add to the music list! I'll love hearing your suggestions.

For Skills Number Two and Three, Please Click on Loud and Soft  or  High and Low

You might also like:
Jazz resources for kids
Fairy Tale Music Classics
Classics for Kids to Know: Flight of the Bumblebee
Animal Action Replacement: Carnival of the Animals

And more to come!  Use the Tab at the top of the screen and scroll to  "School-aged" and "humanities" to find a listing of other music articles for kids.


Anonymous said...

Hello, just wanted to mention, I loved this blog post. It was inspiring.

Keep on posting!
My weblog : musicos

Caryn Lim said...

good one!

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comments!