Keeping the Beat Activity by Dora Ann Purdy

Steady beat is the most fundamental concept in music. It’s the ongoing, repetitive pulse that occurs in songs, chants, rhymes, and music. It’s the part that makes you want to tap your toes, clap your hands, or jump up and dance like no one is watching. It’s all about the “timing.”

Steady Beat, image

1. General understandings about rhythm and beat

  • Music has a steady beat.
  • Sounds and silence in music are long or short in relation to each other and to a steady beat (example: quarter notes and rests, eighth notes and rests).
  • Beats can be grouped in sets of twos and threes.

2. To develop true beat competency, children must:

  • LISTEN – intentionally listen – well enough to feel the beat in their head and in their body. That, in itself, takes training.
  • OBSERVE – watch closely enough to match the actions of others, from the early stages of learning to keep a basic beat to when they become involved with ensembles (playing music with others in a group).
  • CONTROL their movements, not just for a moment, but, over time, and
  • COORDINATE their actions according to what they HEAR and SEE – repeatedly and consistently.

3. Activities for experiencing and reinforcing steady beat:

  • Through speech
  • Through playing instruments
  • Through moving to the steady beat/making up steady beat motion
  • Through reading rhythm
  • Through singing games (internalizing the steady beat and timing)
  • Through listening to a new song

To download or print this activity, see our Keeping the Beat PDF.

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