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Blog » Learning The Beat Through Movement
The fundamental rhythmic understanding in music is the beat. And, the fundamental way to gain understanding of the beat is through movement. Children are usually successful performing the beats in music when the movement and the tempo (speed of the music) are appropriate for their developmental level.
Very young children are usually successful when they use the lap-pat to respond on the beat. This bi-lateral movement, performed from a seated position, requires only basic muscle coordination. The movements for both hands and arms are the same. Further, the time of impact provides precisely focused visceral (body) feedback for beat accuracy when the hands strike the knees or thighs. Other bi-lateral movements include tapping the head, shoulders and toes.
Many songs encourage clapping to the beat, but one should be aware that this motion requires moving the hands in opposition to each other, thus, presenting some difficulty for some children to perform the beat. In such cases, changing the movement to a lap-pat would be advisable.
Alternating motions, such as marching, can also be employed after children have been successful with more basic movements. However, with this motion, as with all other motions, the tempo selected will have a bearing on rhythmic accuracy. In general, music with a tempo of about 120 beats per minute will be successful for most children. Music that is too slow (less that 100 beats per minute) or too fast (more that 140 beats per minute) may be difficult for young children to perform accurately.