"Moveable Music Notes" : Montessori-Style Music Notation for Little Kids!


Photo from the artists at Dollar Photo Club with additions by Carolyn

After children have had lots of sensory experiences with the Montessori-style "Sandpaper Music Notes", they are ready for some fun games to play with composing their own rhythms. Click here to read my post about "Sandpaper Music Notes." 
     Carolyn's "sandpaper quarter note" 

During my Orff-Schulwerk training many years ago, I learned lots of techniques for working with little children and their rhythmical development. In this wonderful approach to music education for children, the body is considered the first instrument and the technique of keeping a beat with the whole body is called "Body Percussion." You can learn more at this link: What is Orff-Schulwerk (AOSA)

You will see people everywhere, and especially young children, who will spontaneously start moving their bodies when they hear music being played. Lots of songs sung by little children have clapping, snapping, and even stamping & patting the knees built right into the song! This is what is meant by "body percussion."

Below, I have included a video of a fabulous example of Orff-Schulwerk in action, with little children using the "body-as-an-instrument." (from one of my favorite Orff practitioners, Tamara O'Brien.) 

All of these movement activities and echo games give children a concrete, sensory foundation for keeping a beat and following rhythm patterns in their early music experiences. With this foundation established, the children are usually ready for the next level of music learning: music notation!
You can check out more on echo games at my website page: STUFF FOR KIDS at this link, where you'll find some short educational videos that are very fun for little children!

When introducing the written notation in music education, we must remember that this is an abstract level of learning and so, in the true Montessori style, it is important to offer as many concrete activities as possible to the child. You can read some of my past Posts for more info about quarter notes, eighth notes & music notation at this link: Freeze Dance with a "Ti-ti-ta" Twist. And more about the quarter rest in music at this link: Freeze Dancing & the Quarter Rest in Music.

After the experience of tracing the "Sandpaper Music Notes", the children can be given wooden tablets (or cards) with the various notes printed on them. For Preschoolers, I include the following notation cards:

  • Quarter note (we say "ta" in our rhythm echoes)
  • Double eighth notes ("ti-ti" in our rhythm echoes)
  • Half note ("to-oe" in our rhythm echoes)
  • Quarter rest ("zha" in our rhythm echoes)
I usually have these available as a shelf work after introducing them at group time.
I start with a simple one bar rhythm using just the quarter notes & double eighth notes. (Four cards total) The fun part of these "moveable" notes is that you can re-arrange them, of course! Children have fun changing the patterns and really like the challenge.

As the children gain more experience with the "Moveable Notes", you can introduce 2 bar rhythms. (total of 8 cards)

It is good to have at least one classroom set of the notes mentioned above with: 
~ 8 Quarter note cards
~ 4 Double eighth note cards
~ 2 Half note cards
~ 2 Quarter rest cards
This set is enough cards to arrange a four bar rhythm..and then re-arrange and re-arrange!

These can be kept in a basket (or a box with compartments) and set out on the music shelf for the child/ren to explore individually during their work period.

Over the years, I have found that little children really love working with these Montessori-style music notation materials. Before long, they are "composing" their own little rhythm patterns and singing, clapping, stamping, patting, and even playing rhythm instruments while they "read" their little compositions!

I hope you enjoyed this post and I invite you to tell me your thoughts & experiences in the comment section below. I'd love to hear from you!

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!
Next PostNewer Post Previous PostOlder Post Home