Little Children Keeping the Beat with Rhythm Patterns!


Playing musical instruments together in an "ensemble" is a fairly sophisticated activity for little musicians, but always fun and satisfying.

Photos are from the artists at Big Stock Photo

First, preparing children for keeping a steady beat and then practicing keeping a beat together can be a bit challenging! Keeping the beat is always best introduced as a movement activity and I have found that the Preschoolers in music class always really enjoy the movement portion of our lessons. Likewise, both Maria Montessori and Carl Orff (Orff-Schulwerk) emphasized the importance of movement in learning for the young child. Here are some links to read more on this: 

Our classes this week featured a fun movement activity called "Walking Down the Street" from Bushfire Press' music curriculum, Music Room: Primary Level

This lively activity has a fun hip-hop rhythm with a narrator giving instruction for "walking" and then "clapping" the beat.
Many Preschoolers can walk to the beat of a song, but the added task of clapping & walking the beat at the same time can be challenging! However, by the end of the song, most everybody was walking & clapping the beat very well, with big smiles on their faces, too.

        4-yr old "walking to the beat"
Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius from the archives of Magical Movement Company

Toddler "clapping to the beat"
Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius from the archives of Magical Movement Company

After children have had some experience with steady beat through movement & dance, they are better prepared for keeping the beat as a group while playing rhythm instruments. (Beginnings of "ensemble playing")

4 yr-old playing rhythm patterns with sand blocks

In our music classes we always practice echoes with rhythm patterns during our vocal warm-ups. You can check out some of these fun little exercises using the short music education videos at my website. Here's the link: Fun Stuff for Kids

It's a natural process for the children to transfer the little vocal warm-up rhythms to playing these rhythms using instruments!

Here's another quirky little video featuring one of our class sessions playing sand blocks along with some of the rhythm patterns the children have practiced many times in their vocal warm-ups.

Hope you have fun with rhythm patterns and your little ones!

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