Establishing beautifulness in students is at the heart of the understanding of rhythm.
The kinaesthetic experience of beat must come first and can be done initially by tapping body parts and then moving to a tick tock pendulum movement as demonstrated by Ruth in this short video.
Beat rules. If you can’t feel the beat, how can you understand rhythm? Establishing a beat in younger children is initially done by tapping different body parts while listening to music or singing a song, saying rhymes etc. Through this kinaesthetic experience, students feel the steady beat underlying music. I use the John Feierabend album series, Move It as an essential part of this beatfulness. They are delightfully artistic and sensitive introductions to classical music for children. The Lynn Kleiner book Kids Can Listen, Kids Can Move is a gem it’s one of my bibles, and it has beautiful beatfulness but also creative movement, little ideas in here, it’s really gorgeous.
The use of the clock can be a really useful prop in early childhood and lower primary to assist students in understanding this ticktock movement. Moving like a cuckoo clock pendulum, but there’s an opportunity here for a short history lesson of course, as children these days have grown up with digital clocks. So, the ticktock concept, once the children are beat full independently, and they are really being able to feel the beat they were not going to be perfect yet, but individually they can use their arms out like a ticktock of the clock and using this as an introduction. Ticktock, ticktock and while we’re doing this, I’m going to give feedback to Johnny who might have his legs too high and that will slow down the beat. I might also have someone who’s going too fast because their feet are not moving up high enough, so the children are looking at other children and using that as a bit of feedback as well. So it’s a great introduction to Bluebells where we turn over in the middle and come back like this [singing].
Then the students can also do it with a partner when it’s COVID safe obviously, so they hold hands, and they do the ticktock, and we do that for quite a while. While making sure everyone’s got a partner, and they’re looking at the feet trying to match them up and the therefore some students, the more beatfull partner may assist their partner establishing the speed of the beat. The students love it, it’s fun, and it also gives an opportunity to promote social skills, which is super important in those early years when doing with a partner. They will hold hands for the first two phrases and then drop one hand and turn around, clasping that hand back again and then drop it for the end. So it’s a bit of coordination, and it’s really good fun, but then they can also perform the rhythm. [singing]. Which of course transfers then into the rhythm names. That technique of locking the hips and moving from side to side can even be used with students right through primary up to lower secondary, where they develop their beatfulness.
They go on autopilot rather than trying to step the beat which actually is really, really tricky to keep it steady when they’re not experienced. This locking of the hips moving side to side then enables them to feel [singing], and they are able to do beat and rhythm simultaneously and get that kinaesthetic experience of a steady beat with the rhythm. Then on top, I’m always happy to learn new techniques, ways to help my teaching and the effectiveness of my time with the students. These techniques are powerful ways of doing this. If you’ve got any questions about the application of this in your context or some of the other teaching tips that we’ve shared, pop a comment below, and we’ll look forward to chatting. The website has a blog page with all the teaching tips and tea episodes and the cuckoo clock puppet page on our website has a song sheet of clock songs which are really fantastic. So enjoy trying these ideas out and let’s know how you’re going with them, whether they’re really helping your teaching. Great to see you. Happy teaching!