Benefits of Music: Clapping and Musical Development!


Did you ever think about how satisfying clapping games of childhood really are? Clapping with a partner in early elementary- aged children is still a popular playground activity and research shows us why! I found this article on the Mothering Magazine blog:

Clapping Games Build Brainpower

Posted on September 27th, 2011 by  | Find Out More About Laura Grace Weldon

Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius (from Carolyn's archive)

"In our family, changing the lyrics to “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands” is essential to the song. We substitute words like silly, grumpy, snotty, and even verklempt for “happy.”  Making up appropriate accompanying motions, well, that’s the fun part.Apparently hand-clapping rhymes and songs are actually linked to cognitive skills. Research by Dr. Idit Sulkin, of the Ben-Gurion University Music Science Lab, found that young children who naturally play hand-clapping games are better spellers, have neater handwriting, and better overall writing skills.Intrigued, she conducted further research. For ten weeks she engaged groups of children, ages 6 to 10, in a program of either music appreciation or hand-clapping. Very quickly the children’s cognitive abilities improved, but only those taking part in hand-clapping songs.She also interviewed teachers and joined in when children sang in their classrooms. She was trying to understand why they tend to enjoy hand-clapping songs until a certain age, when other activities such as sports become dominant. Dr. Sulkin observed, These activities serve as a developmental platform to enhance children’s needs — emotional, sociological, physiological, and cognitive. It’s a transition stage that leads them to the next phases of growing up.”

Interestingly, Dr. Sulkin also found that hand-clapping songs benefit adults. When adults engage in these games from childhood they report feeling less tense and their mood improves. They also become more focused and alert.

Clapping and singing, clapping and chanting. There’s a reason these activities are found across all cultures in storytelling, religious ceremonies, solemn rituals, and joyous celebrations.  The experience of calling and clapping may speak to something deeper in us.  Maybe we all should play a round of Miss Suzy or See See My Playmate at the start of every political debate, business meeting, or extended family get-together." (From Mothering Magazine Blog Sept 27th, 2011.)

Photo from the artists at Dollar Photo Club
A Fun Clapping Activity from Carolyn

While sitting down, a fun activity for young children is to clap their own hands together then pat their knees. Introduce a steady beat between the two motions and before you know it the children will be following your beat themselves. This is an old trick of seasoned teachers to get the attention of a group of rambunctious young children. 
One of my music students, a four year old, is always showing me the clapping beat that her mother plays with her every day. Lily incorporates this fun beat into our instrument exploration in class and she is very good at it! The beat is ta-ta-ti-ti-ta-rest (2 quarter notes, followed by 2 eighth notes, another quarter note and a quick rest to transition into the repetition of the pattern again). Not only does Lily clap this beat very accurately, but she also plays it out consistently when we are exploring various rhythm instruments. This is another confirmation of what an important teacher a parent is for a child! 
Clapping hands can work with just about any song, rhyme, or poem from childhood. This is one of the all-time favorites:
One-two, tie my shoe
Three-four, shut the door
Five-six, pick up sticks
Seven-eight, lay them straight
Nine-ten, begin again (a little faster...)
(Repeat with a faster tempo and end with the line:)
Nine-ten, a big fat hen!
I like to start out very slowly for the first round...then ask child/ren to do it a second time, "A little faster!"

Clapping activities are another fundamental part of the Orff-Schulwerk Method of teaching music to young children. Find out more at this link: What is Orff-Schulwerk (AOSA) 
and at my website: Magical Movement Company: Carolyn's Classes

Here's an amazing video I found on Youtube featuring clapping!

Next PostNewer Post Previous PostOlder Post Home