Teaching Rhythm for Little Ears
Greetings, new readers! This is my first blog post, and considering I'm new to WyzAnt, I have chosen to post about my prior experiences teaching music to little ones.
I teach a rhythm curriculum called Rhythm Kids (http://www.rhythmkids.com), which was developed in the Boston, MA area and has really grown and expanded in the last few years. I also have received training in teaching world rhythms/instruments and facilitation group drumming to all types of communities. Being that the majority of children I work with are ages 3-9 years old, I really have to get creative about teaching music and rhythm in a fun, engaging, age-appropriate and relevant way - preferably minus the use of standard Western music notation, because not everyone has an opportunity to learn that in school.
I have found some pretty cool (and easily implementable) tools through a music therapist, percussionist, and world-famous community music facilitator named Kalani. His methods usually do not rely on standard music notation, so that he can expand the audience with which he's eligible to work. He has developed over the years a variety of techniques and rhythm games that work with all ages, which are designed to put participants at ease and to be easily accessible to them, whatever their ages and abilities might be. Some rhythm games involve looking at the creation of rhythm and music from the standpoint of a circle or clock - something that keeps going, repeats, and can be quickly understood and improvised. I have tried using some of his music cards in my classes of 5-12 year-olds, with great success - the students both enjoyed the game and were able to quickly pick it up. By utilizing cards that depict a circle with divisions that closely resemble a clock, children and youth are able to relate the division of time on a clock to the division of music beats in a given repeating rhythm. One card can be given to a student or a small group of students, who then work together to figure out what simple (4- to 8-note) repeating pattern is on the card. They can illustrate the rhythm through a variety of media: clapping, stomping, movement, percussion, melodic instruments, or even their own voices. The possibilities are endless, and confidence is easily gained during this game - there are so many fun and creative ways to go with it!