Musically Montessori: Rhythm Echoes and Clapping, Stamping, Patting the Pattern


Photo from Adobe Stock

In the Orff-Schulwerk Music Education Method, the next step after echo singing is rhythm development through echo patterns, chants, and body percussion. 

I have found that my groups really enjoy the echo rhythms that we practice in each of our music classes every time. In fact, we've practiced these rhythm patterns so much, that the children have them memorized and can eventually carry them over to playing the patterns on instruments like rhythm sticks, tambourines, and maracas.

So, the first level of refining these skills is vocally repeating simple rhythm patterns. By keeping the underlying pulse going, the teacher establishes the steady beat that permeates throughout the rhythm patterns the children are echoing. That makes the activity more cohesive, easy to follow, and the children feel successful. 

Here's a little video made with Frank Leto's "Be My Echo" recording. In the beginning of the school year, I use these echoes from Frank at every music circle.

Sometimes, it is fun to introduce a prop, like the sock puppet in the photo below, so that the children can dramatize the echo action with their own little "echo friend."

Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius

My Lower Elementary Groups absolutely LOVE this "Boom-Chicka-Boom" Rhythm Chant and this video is shows the creative fun of this traditional chant.

Since movement is so important in the early childhood music experience, it is easy to jump right into the next step of practicing rhythm patterns with stamping, clapping, patting and even finger snapping. 

Orff-Schulwerk introduces these actions, called "body percussion", early in a child's musical life. In the Montessori way, we introduce each action separately so as to "isolate the difficulty". Then, as the child gains coordination skills, and practice with echo rhythms, s/he  is able to combine two, then three and even four of the body percussion actions to create a sort of musical choreography. 

This video below is from the San Francisco School where Doug Goodkin, my first Orff-Schulwerk instructor, has been teaching for over 30 years. Body Percussion is an art form in itself!

The progression of skills eventually leads to playing rhythm patterns with simple rhythm instruments and this is the beginning of ensemble playing for children.

After your group has practiced echo rhythms for a while, they are ready for rhythm patterns played with instruments, like the sand blocks in this photo. 

Photo from Kiran's Montessori

Here's a great video showing the lovely progression of activities typical in the Orff-Schulwerk method of music education. The ways to practice rhythm patterns is almost endless!

I recently discovered this sweet video from the Summit Montessori School that shows the perfect blend of the Orff-Schulwerk style of rhythmical activities and the classic Montessori method of education.

This week I will be posting lots of Rhythm Echo and Body Percussion Activities on my Facebook Page, and please don't miss my FREE ACTIVITY I'll be posting on "Montessori Magic Friday" at Magical Movement Company Facebook Page.

I've just completed my new "Magical Movement Company Freebie Collection" at my website, so now my subscribers can download all my free activities from that password-only page. This includes my eBook, "Musically Montessori, First Lessons."($12.95 value)  You'll be getting an email this week with the new password for the page. If you haven't already joined the thousands who subscribe to my email list, you can do it right here on the sidebar of this Blog!


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Musically Montessori: Let's Begin with Echo Singing and 10 Activities!


  Photo from Adobe Stock
"Play what you sing, sing what you play" 
This is what Doug Goodkin, my music teacher, describes as his secret of effective music education. Learn more of his secrets by clicking HERE.

Echo singing is an important component of a Preschool music curriculum, especially when you want to follow the Montessori approach. Echo singing happens to be a foundational principle of the Orff-Schulwerk  method of music education. In the Orff-Schulwerk approach, the children learn each new song by echoing when the teacher first presents the song.  

In addition, another hallmark of the Orff-Schulwerk approach is offering the young child lots of opportunities to sing "echo songs." Echo songs, like "My Aunt Came Back," have the echo built right into the song. They involve the teacher singing for the children, rather than with the children. Each phrase of the song has a time just following, when the phrase is repeated. This means the child will be copying the words, the tempo, and the melody exactly, when s/he echoes each phrase.  Echo singing has a built-in "control of error"...which blends beautifully with the Montessori method!

Here is a little sampling of music circle activities you could create that feature echo singing. Great for the beginning of the school year!

1. Warm-ups
My groups always enjoy playful breathing and vocal warm-ups to begin our music circle. This quirky, but quick, video below is one example of what we do for warm-ups.

2. Echo "Hello" Song

          3. Rhythm echoes
Below is another one of my funny videos with a favorite "Hello" song and really fun rhythm echoes. This hello song is from Lynn Kleiner.  Here's the link: Hello Song

4. "Copy-cat" style Movement Activity
I discovered this action-packed video of the traditional song, "My Aunt Came Back". I always practice the movement portion of each of my lessons before I do it with the children. This one is a bit challenging, but fun. The children will follow your modeling of the actions and funny little mistakes just add to the fun!

5. "Copy Cat" Song for a "Sitting Down Movement" Activity 
This song, "Copy Cat" is from the cd , “Kidding Around” from Greg and Steve and is currently only available in cd format at their website. Here’s the link: Greg & Steve . The children can sing along to the catchy chorus: “I can copy that!” as they follow along with the easy motions that can all be done in a sitting motion. Here's a video of the song:

6. Focused Listening featuring an actual echo
When introducing the idea of "echo," it is important to prepare the children a bit by playing a recording of an actual echo. I say: "Today we are singing 'echo songs'. An echo is the repeating of a sound. The vibrations of the sound bounce off a surface and you hear them all over again. Let's get our ears ready for listening to a recording of an echo." I play this recording: Voice Echo 

Photo from Adobe Stock

7. Singing the echo parts of a song
Frank Leto, is a Montessori and Orff-Schulwerk trained professional musician who produces the most wonderful cd s of his music for children. He has a strong emphasis on echo songs. Here is one of his most famous! 

8. Using props, rhythm instruments, or puppets with echo songs
Lynn Kleiner is another Orff-Schulwerk practitioner who uses echo songs throughout her curriculum. She also beings drama, puppets and rhythm instruments to many of her lessons. I've used this song with many groups of young children. Some children have the instruments and others have stick puppets of the various animals in the song. Later, you can provide a Montessori-style shelf work for children to make their own oviparous animal stick puppets during your cultural studies of viviparous and oviparous animals.  

9. Echo "Goodbye" song
Dream English is a very popular children's performer and this sweet and very simple song is the perfect echo "Goodbye" Song!

10. Have fun while gaining lots of cognitive benefits!

FaceBook Friday: Check out my "Montessori Magic Friday" free download for a fun hands-on activity for your group!


When young children engage in echo music activities they gain skills in:
~ Auditory discrimination through "matching pitch" (singing in tune)
~ Memory development
~ Language acquisition
~ Group social & community consciousness
~ Vocal control
~ Gross & fine motor refinement when participating in Movement Activities and Instrument Exploration

I am happy to have you visiting my blog today and I hope you got some fun ideas for your group!

For many of us, this is the time of year for preparing for the upcoming school year. Does your Montessori music curriculum feel a bit neglected?

I have a wonderful 12-week-on-line Musically Montessori eCourse that can help you set up a developmentally appropriate, sequential, and fun music program in your setting!

Musically Montessori eCourse: "First Twelve Weeks"

It's "Montessori Monday" at Living Montessori Now and I've added my post to the many resources you'll discover there, including some wonderful free Printables from Deb and many other educators from around the world!

And, if you haven't yet joined my email list, you can have my eBook, "Musically Montessori, The First Lessons" as my complimentary gift to you. ($12.99 regular price at my TpT shop) Just sign up on the sidebar of this blog! 


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Musically Montessori: Resource Round-up for Teaching The Instrument Families of the Orchestra


Photos in this post are from Adobe Stock

Here is my "Round-up-from-around-the-web" of activities, articles, and resources for creating your Music Unit on "Instrument Families of the Orchestra for Young Children".

Even Preschool children enjoy exploring the instrument "families" of the Orchestra. I have often thought that our little ones like the way we categorize the instruments according to the "family" they belong to. Families are very important to young children!

When I offer lessons about the Orchestra instrument families, I categorize into these four sections:
  • STRINGS: Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass
  • WOODWINDS: Flute, Clarinet, Oboe, Bassoon
  • BRASS: Trumpet, Trombone, French Horn, Tuba
  • PERCUSSION: Snare drum, Timpani drum, Bass Drum, and your choice of rhythm instruments, such as triangle, tambourine, maracas, xylophone, piano, etc. You can spend months on the Percussion Family!

I usually spend at least 2 weeks on each family so that I can introduce just 2 instruments at a time, each week, from each "family". As well, the initial introduction to each family is focused on 2 of the members of the "family" that have a distinctly different sound (pitch) from each other, generally the lowest pitched (largest) and the highest pitched (smallest).

For example,  when introducing the String Family, we first explore the Violin and the Upright Double Bass. These are the most different in size and in sound. This aids the children in their "visual" and "auditory" discrimination skills development. These vastly different members of the String Family are easier for the young child to distinguish.

When I introduce the Woodwinds I start with:
Flute and Bassoon
When I introduce the Brass I start with:
Trumpet and Tuba
When I introduce the Percussion I start with:
Snare drum and Timpani

You can review some of my Musically Montessori blog posts on the Instrument Families for more ideas and activities:






I have found that children love hearing short (30 sec or less) excerpts of the instrument all on its own. This helps the child isolate the difficulty, an important hallmark of the Montessori method of teaching.

Recordings for Focused Listening Activities

You can find recordings of individual instruments at the following links:
  • "Baby's First Instruments of the Orchestra" This is one of my favorites. This album is not in mp3 format, and the cd is sometimes hard to find, but well worth it! The recordings are authentic instruments as opposed to electronically produced sounds. Also, information about each instrument is introduced by the narrator and so the children are given the First Period of the Montessori 3-Period Lesson. However, this limits the use of this cd for the "Which Instrument Sound Is This?" Game because the name of the instrument is given at the beginning of each recording. 
I usually begin our series of Instrument Family lessons with the Brass Family, because the sounds are so dynamic and somewhat familiar to young children.




You can find some wonderful YouTube videos for children to watch and also videos for you as the teacher to watch and learn more about the sounds of the Instrument families.

  • "Instrument Families" Powerpoint presentation with text, great photos, and sounds to go with each of the instruments. For older kids and adults
  • Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra: A wonderful site based on the music from Benjamin Britten. A story format with exquisite music from The Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall. Suitable for children of all ages and informative for adults as well.
  • "Toot, Whistle, Plunk, Boom": Vintage Disney-style educational video in cartoon setting with talking and singing animals, so not quite in keeping with Montessori principles of reality based instruction. However, it may be something for elementary kids to enjoy and learn a little. The music in the video is authentic instruments and the stories are fun. There's a lot of information!
  • "Happy and You Know It" from Melody Street. An amazing little video with a child prodigy narrator (and fantastic pianist!) who introduces the viewers to the instruments of the orchestra with little animated versions of the instruments. Okay, not quite Montessori reality based again, but I really do like this one a lot. Very engaging! 
  • "Tubby the Tuba" Beautifully presented concert performance of this lovable story featuring the instruments of the orchestra and Tubby the tuba, who wants to find his own song and play a solo in the orchestra.
  • "Tubby the Tuba" Song: Music originally sung by Danny Kaye.  

Photo from Adobe Stock

Helpful Articles and Websites

Montessori-Style Shelf Works

Picture Books at Amazon
(CLICK on the picture to link)

Child-oriented Musical Performances   

  • "Watch Our Favorite Tiny Dancer Perform the Nutcracker with the New York City Ballet"  An adorable, endearing, one-minute video that goes well with the famous ballet concert that many children attend during the winter season.
  • "Carnival of the Animals" A lovely presentation parts of the wonderful piece for children by Camile Saint-Saens. A 2-minute video combination of the actual performers and sweet cartoon characters of the "animals" racing through the music. Very tastefully done and very engaging for children and adults.
  • "Tubby the Tuba Movie" The full length 1977 movie (1 hr +) based on the story/musical first narrated and sung by Danny Kaye in 1945. 
  • "Tubby the Tuba" Music originally sung by Danny Kaye.
  • Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" performed by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. The story of a little boy who went into the nearby woods to observe his animal friends and then had to capture the wolf he discovered who was after Peter's friend, the bird. Exquisite music that illustrates a story with the instruments of the orchestra.
  • Tchaikovsky's "Waltz of the Flowers" performed by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. One of the most well-known pieces from the musical story and ballet of the Nutcracker Suite performed just beautifully. A child can really see the instruments playing their parts. I saw in the comments that a music teacher was planning to have a little in-class-concert-going experience for her students with tickets, seating, and then the children would be sitting in the rows of chairs in their classroom as the "audience." I think this sort of activity is very beneficial and a wonderful practice run for preparing children for attending an upcoming concert.
  • Hans Christian Anderson's "The Ugly Duckling" sung by Danny Kaye and NY Symphony Orchestra.  The story of the ugly duckling in a song see a picture book along with the audio.

  • Authentic Replica Miniatures
    As a music specialist, I have purchased authentic replicas of the orchestra instruments over the years. These are carefully passed around the circle for each child to examine the parts of the instrument. I have found that, next to having a musician come in and play/show their instrument to the children, these miniatures give the children a concrete experience without the teacher having to have a collection of real orchestra instruments. My Blog articles tell how I give a lesson about "Real and Model" when presenting these replicas. 

    These are pricey, but it is nice to consider having one example from each of the 4 Instrument Families.

    Here is the link for one source I like: Wild About Music

    Whew! Lots of resources here. I hope you find some useful ones! 

    Are you looking for more?

    How about enrolling in my upcoming eCourse: "Musically Montessori: The Instrument Families of the Orchestra"

    Starting on Sunday, September 24th. A wonderful sequential curriculum that prepares the children for the upcoming seasonal music performances that happen in December.  

    JOIN MY WAITLIST AND GET 30% OFF the regular price of enrollment!

    In this twelve weeks of training with me, you'll receive:
    • Lesson Plans
    • Video Instruction
    • Printable Downloads for your Music Circle and Montessori Music Shelf
    • MP3 music downloads of Movement Activities from Classical Fun Singalongs (Part 2)
    • More MP3 music downloads of recordings of the sounds of the instruments for your Focused Listening Activities 
    • Community with others in the eCourse through the Musically Montessori FB group   

    Thank you once again for visiting my Blog today. I'm looking forward to our next visit!

    This article is part of the "Montessori Monday Link-up" At Living Montessori Now, where you'll find even more resources for your Montessori environment!
    Advertising Disclosure: Magical Movement Company may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. Thanks for your support!

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    Musically Montessori: "Children and Music Go Together" Photo Essay

    THEY SAY A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS...I AGREE. DO YOU? This Photo Essay gives a little peek into the music and children of my life so far.
    The children in the above photo are enjoying music in one of my studio classes in Willits, CA (2011)

    It was a delight to walk into one of the schools where I teach Montessori Music classes and find this unique bulletin board display of me with the children in one of our music classes.  I do truly love my job as a Montessori classroom music specialist! You can read more about Little Flowers Montessori HERE.

    Little Flowers Montessori School Bulletin Board (2015)

    These little ones are inseparable and they always enjoy making music together! The one on the right is just 2 years old. Here's more about Kiran's Montessori School.

    Kiran's Montessori (2016)

    Years ago, when I went to Fiji to teach little children, I discovered that they were going to teach me a lot more than I taught them. In fact, to this day, the children's songs I learned in Fijian are my favorites of all children's songs I sing. Read more about my Cultural Travel Project in Fiji HERE.

    Nasinu Village, Fiji Islands (1996)

    When you're fortunate enough to have the beautiful Montessori Brass Bells in your classroom, it makes you feel like every child is a budding Mozart. More info about Fountainhead Montessori School HERE.

    Fountainhead Montessori (2012)

    The first time I played my autoharp for my youngest grandchild, he was a little shy about touching the instrument. A few months later he wasn't shy at all!

    My Little Grandson (2016)

    I've felt so lucky to be able to make music with all my grandchildren over the years.  The photo below is one of those the Montessori Preschool with my granddaughter a few years ago. The Montessori Center of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii is located in the landmark historic Post Office building on the Base. 

    My Little Granddaughter (2006)

    During my time as the Director of a Co-Op Nursery School in Geyserville, CA, we always played lots of music at our annual Halloween fund raiser. This was one of our promotional photos for the local news.

    River Valley Nursery School (1998)

    Moving to music comes naturally to little children. These boys are exploring the concept of "pitch" in music. Up high and down low.

    Kiran's Montessori (2016)

    The intense concentration and imaginative exploration shown by the children is always a pleasure to observe. The boy in this photo created a little conversation with the castanets.

    Fountainhead Montessori (2015)

    The very youngest student in one of my groups began to play a fairly steady beat right away when she discovered a different way to play her castanets. 

    Kiran's Montessori (2017)

    The joy on the children's faces is probably the greatest pleasure of all. There's just nothing quite like making music. More about Big City Montessori HERE.

    Big City Montessori (1993)

    It's a joy for me, too. Making music makes me complete! This picture below is our Rumpus Dance from our "Where the Wild Things Are"  musical performance at my little Montessori school overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Mendocino almost 30 years ago. The children spent weeks creating their wild things masks and practicing our dance.

    Albion Children's House, Albion CA (1989)

    To keep my heart and soul nourished, I often have to simply sing somewhere out in the forest. This photo is a cherished moment in time when I could sing my heart out with Edison Chiloquin, the last chief of the Plaikni tribe of Southern Oregon. We were singing Gene Autry cowboy songs in the high desert piney woods. Watch this video about Edison's amazing story HERE. 

    Plaikni Village, Chiloquin Oregon (1994)

    Lastly, and most important. When in with somebody!

    Thank you for visiting my Blog today. I am sure you have photos of your children enjoying music in your environment. There's a reason why children love musical experiences...CHILDREN AND MUSIC GO TOGETHER.

    Check out my Magical Movement Company Facebook page this week for more photos, article and videos (from around the world) of children having fun with music. And you'll find a free download featuring a  Montessori music activity: "Command Cards" for children to make their own musical shakers.  CLICK HERE and just scroll down to my Montessori "Magic Friday" posts at my FB page.

    I am always honored to be included in the Montessori Monday Link-up at the Living Montessori Now site, where thousands of Montessori educators go to check out the many resources, articles, and even free Printables!

    Advertising Disclosure: Magical Movement Company may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. Thanks for your support!

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