Preschool Music: Quarter Rest Means Don't Make a Sound!


 3 yr old moving to the beat in music class

This week our music classes were filled with lively dancing moves alternating with quiet-as-a-mouse stillness. I have found that this sort of activity is a big favorite with Preschool aged children. We had fun connecting the concept of the musical "rest" to the "freeze" part of the Freeze Dance! Read more about the symbol of the quarter rest & quarter note in my post at this link: Montessori Sandpaper Music Notation Cards 

Photo from the artists at Dollar Photo Club

The popular "Freeze Dance" Games that are familiar to early childhood settings are a favorite for a very good reason. That activity fulfills the development needs of young children to practice these important skills:

  • Listening
  • Concentration
  • Coordination
  • Having Fun!
There are many "Freeze Dance" recordings that are great fun for young children. My choice for this week was from Hap Palmer, a well-known (and well-loved!) standard in high quality children's music & music education. Our selection was "Rock & Roll Freeze Dance" from his cd, "So Big".  (Available on Amazon and at iTunes)

This music is so contagious everyone was up and dancing!

Everyone up & dancing in music class!
Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius from Carolyn"s Archive

Then there's the really fun part...the music randomly stops and everyone freezes!
The music is so fun that at first, there are a few children who don't freeze right away when the music suddenly stops. However, everyone catches on very quickly. Before long, even the youngest children are stopping in the middle of their cutest dance moves. This takes very attentive, concentrated listening and then immediate control of the muscles to STOP! (That's coordination in a very fun way!)

After such a great "Freeze Dance", the children have now had a concrete experience with the idea of not making any sounds or moves and this can easily be related to the concept of "the rest" in music.

My students have had lots of experience with "resting our instruments" at the beginning of a music activity. Out of consideration for the children who don't yet have their instruments, each child "rests" his/her instrument while the teachers are passing them out to the group.

"Resting" our instruments while waiting for everyone to get theirs
Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius from Carolyn's archives

To introduce the concept of the musical "rest" to the children, I like to start with rhythm sticks. These can be purchased at this link: West Music Basic Beats Rhythm Sticks 

There are so many ways to play rhythm sticks!

3 yr old "drumming" with rhythm sticks
Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius from Carolyn's archives

3 yr old tapping rhythm sticks end-to-end
Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius from Carolyn's archives

Tapping rhythm sticks together and tapping them on the floor
Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius from Carolyn's archives

After the children explore playing these, I show them how to not play during a "rest" in the music. (Ex: "Hot-Cross-Buns-rest ")

Group "resting" their rhythm sticks during the song "Hot Cross Buns"
Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius Photography

The "rest" in music class, means NOT playing!
Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius from Carolyn's archives

Not only is it great practice to sing songs & play rhythm sticks,'s really great practice to incorporate the "not playing" part of music that we call the musical "rest"!

By the end of our lesson, all the children had lots of practice with "not playing" when there was a "rest" in the music. They got pretty good at playing a nice beat to our songs and then not playing at all when there was a rest. A simple rhythm pattern that works well with the quarter rest in music is: 
"Ta-ta-ta-rest " 
I'm so glad you are visiting my sight. I would love to hear your ideas...just leave a comment below!

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