FOL Fridays: Pre-ensemble Development

Kindermusik Class in China

Kindermusik Class in ChinaOne day, your child may want to participate in a team sport or play in a band.  Kindermusik will provide him or her with the unique opportunity to develop and practice the skills that are required to perform in an ensemble, skills like distinguishing between sounds, listening for the appropriate entrance, timing the participation, accomplishing the steady-beat play with an outside source, and playing with others.

Ideas for parents:

Even the youngest children can experience ensemble, whether it’s in Kindermusik Village or it’s just the two of you at home tapping on the pots and pans.  You might even enjoy putting together a Family Jam, a time when the whole family grabs something to tap, shake, or jingle as you all play-along to a recording or a song you’re singing.

– Contributed by Theresa Case, whose Greenville, SC program, Kindermusik at Piano Central Studios, is proudly among the top 1% of Kindermusik programs worldwide.

FOL Fridays: Steady Beat

Steady beat isn’t just for music classes. Children move to the beat with their bodies instinctively, but learning to control those movements, and to follow—or create—a steady beat with instruments or body movements such as walking, clapping, patting, tapping, or stomping, is an essential component of a child’s early development.

Idea:  There are a many ways to emphasize steady beat… and have tons of fun too!  Turn on the iPOD and tap a beat on the floor, bounce a favorite stuffed animal, play homemade instruments, or put the beat into your whole body and dance all over the room.

 – Compiled by Theresa Case, M.Ed.  Theresa’s Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, South Carolina, is proudly among the top 1% of Kindermusik programs worldwide.

All about the beat

In all Kindermusik classes, there is always emphasis on hearing, feeling, moving, and even “seeing” a steady beat. It may seem very elementary, but it is essentially the cornerstone of music.

More importantly, steady beat plays a huge importance in our speech, movement, thoughts and verbal organisation. From a baby’s first hesitant steps, he slowly finds his pace and soon starts to walk steadily and confidently. Our preschoolers who have a strong sense of beat would be able to use the scissors more skillfully. Ever watch a basketball game? The steady dribble of the ball before it is tossed smack into the basket require an acute sense of beat and timing. A master chef needs to have a command of steady beat in his knife skills. Even writers rely on a sense of steady beat and rhythm in their prose to produce a good read.

Because it is such a fundamental element, parents and teachers often do not give sufficient attention to the development of this very important underlying skill – a strong sense of beat. The consequence of insufficient steady beat experiences in early years can result in poor physical coordination, halting speech (in some cases, stuttering), and even weakness in thought flow. Would you have imagined that something so apparently a strictly musical characteristic can have such bearing on so many areas of our functioning?!

Here are some simple and fun activities that you can do with your child at home to reinforce the concept sense of steady beat:

Movement – Turn on the music and pretend to be a marching band. March, stomp or jump to the music.  For younger babies, put them on your lap and bounce to a steady beat or dance with them around the room to the steady beat of the music.

Instrument play – Use the instruments from your home materials or make your own. An old pot and spoon will make a very fun ( and loud!) drum. Practice keeping a steady beat along with the music.

Reading – Nursery rhymes are a great way to introduce steady beat. Clap or tap along as you recite your child’s favourite rhymes.

Originally written by Chiat Goh. 

The benefits of steady beat

Boom, boom, boom. Clap, clap, clap. 1 and 2 and 3 and 4.

Steady beat is the most fundamental concept in music. It’s the ongoing, steady, 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.

Even newborn babies respond to the steady beat of music, and that’s no surprise when you consider they have been listening to the steady beat of their mother’s heart from inside the womb. Most children learn to keep a steady beat while swaying, clapping, moving their arms, and beating a loud, booming drum. This skill will help a child prepare to later use scissors, a hammer, a saw, a whisk, and all kinds of other tools. Not to mention, it’s absolutely essential to learning a musical instrument.

Through musical exploration in the Kindermusik classroom, your child may develop steady beat competency in the legs and feet as well. This lower body competency is necessary for playing sports, like dribbling and shooting a basketball, as well as for dancing, skipping, running and even walking easily.

Total body beat competency even emerges in the ability to speak and read with a smooth cadence, thereby enhancing communication abilities. Studies also show that ability to keep a steady beat is connected with fluency in reading. A study by Phyllis Weikert showed that being “able to keep a steady beat helps a person to feel the cadence (rhythm) of language” and can also affect their sense of equilibrium (

Steady beat is an fundamental as it gets, and equally as important!

Excerpts taken from Kindermusik Notes by Kindermusik educator Andrea King.

The importance of steady beat

Note, this article was originally titled: “Running with scissors (a bit more safely)”.

If you’ve ever come to a Kindermusik class, you’ll notice that we will have a steady beat activity every week, in every age group. It might involve shakers, streamers, or drums. Or singing, chanting or lap bouncing. Or maybe moving our bodies or dancing. Or even stomping, gliding or tiptoeing.

A baby hears a constant steady beat (mom’s heartbeat!) by 22 weeks after conception. And every infant is born with the ability to keep a steady beat – his own internal beat. Sometimes in a Village class, a piece of music will match a baby’s own beat, and you’ll see him or her banging away in perfect rhythm!

Steady beat for babies:
Exposure to steady beat (hearing it, feeling it, “seeing it”, being moved to it) is important for a baby’s developing sense of steady beat. An internalized awareness of beat will help him to coordinate his movements.

A baby who is beginning to internalize a steady beat will show it through rocking, nodding, patting and kicking. Later she’ll be able to demonstrate steady beat through clapping and playing a drum to a steady beat. Steady beat will be a key factor in his learning to walk.

Steady beat for toddlers:
Children 18 months through 3 years old are learning to control and coordinate their body’s movements. The ability to keep a steady beat helps in walking with a smooth gait, leading to running and jumping with confidence.

It is at this age that feeling and moving to a steady beat develops the ability to organize and coordinate movements with proper timing – like bouncing a ball and catching it.

Steady beat for preschoolers:
Steady beat competency is central to the development of movement organization, such a marching in time, dribbling and shooting a basketball, using scissors and writing smoothly. Being able to move their entire body to a steady beat leads to the ability to speak and read with a smooth cadence, thereby enhancing communication abilities.

Interesting steady beat facts:
A sample study was done of first and second string NFL players. 100% of the first string players could maintain a steady beat without any external stimulus for 45 seconds. Only 50% of the second string players could accomplish the same.

Tests show that children with steady beat internalization are better readers and more successful in math. Children with better abilities in steady beat are reported to be better behaved in class and have less aggressive physical contact with other students.

It is well-known that a stutter does not stutter when singing or using a steady beat while speaking. A stuttering student figured out her own solution: when she wanted to answer a question, she tapped a steady beat on her leg before speaking. This allowed her to answer without stuttering.

As the result of a study done in 2002 by University College in London, scientists believe that a poor sense of rhythm could be the cause of dyslexia. “Researchers concluded that an awareness of beats can influence the way young children assimilate speech patterns, which may in turn affect their reading and writing abilities.”

Steady beat helps children to understand and organize their world. So if you are going to run with scissors, make sure you’ve got a good sense of steady beat. You’ll run more coordinated and smoothly, and thereby be a little bit safer.
– by Miss Analiisa, whose mother reported that at 2 weeks old, Analiisa consistently rocked in time to a piece of classical music that had been often played while she was in utero. But sadly, she was a horrible basketball player.

Special thanks to Studio 3 Music for allowing us to share this great post from the Studio 3 Music blog. Studio 3 Music in Seattle, Washington, the world’s largest Kindermusik program.