Music & Movement Benefits: The Color of Music

Young Child students play glockenspiel dulcimer drum and recorderEver heard of a dulcimer, a didgeridoo, or a dun dun?  Our Kindermusik students have!  By exploring a variety of instruments, the children hear, see, and experience a variety of sounds – scratchy sounds, booming drum sounds, ringing sounds, trickling sounds, and more.  And not just on Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day (which happens to be today, by the way!).  Musically speaking, the distinctive quality of these sounds is called “timbre.”
As your child experiences the variety of sounds he/she can make with musical instruments and everyday objects, he or she is developing the listening vocabulary necessary for sound discrimination preceding language.  In fact, Kindermusik builds on your child’s sound discrimination skills throughout their Kindermusik years.  Here are just a few examples:

In our babies music classes, our focus is on exposing your baby to a variety of timbres to build a base for his/her listening vocabulary to develop.  Developing a “vocabulary of sound” at a very young age not only helps children better tune in to the subtle distinctions of both music and speech, but also encourages them to try to make those sounds for themselves with instruments or voice.
In our toddlers music classes, your child is introduced to a variety of timbres related to animals, transportation, home, and everyday object sounds.  The children are also exposed to the timbres of wooden instruments, metal instruments, and shaker instruments.  We use these experiences to begin the process of teaching your child how to develop discriminating listening skills.
In our preschoolers music classes, we explore the timbres of specific rhythm and orchestra instruments( i.e. such as resonator bars, slide whistles, clarinets, and trombones), teaching your child to learn to identify these timbres as well as discriminate the timbres of voices – male, female, child, children, etc.   While learning these skills your child is also taught to hear in layers; in other words, to listen to many things at the same time.

As your child progresses to our music classes for big kids, we introduce all the families in the orchestra.   Along the way, your child will learn the distinctive sound of over twenty orchestra and keyboard instruments.  Plus they’ll learn about and listen to instruments from all around the world.  Pretty impressive!

Try A Free Kindermusik ClassCome see all the fun and learning that happens with all of the many different instruments we use in Kindermusik classes every week!  Try a class for free… and then enroll so that you can enjoy the instrumental variety in class and at home each week.

Compiled by Theresa Case, who has an award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in beautiful upstate South Carolina.

The connection between timbre and phonemic awareness

Improve Listening Skills with Kindermusik

Improve Listening Skills with KindermusikIn response to a popular holiday song, “Do you hear what I hear?” the answer just might be: maybe. Hearing distinct differences in sounds takes practice. For example, back in August and September, early childhood teachers welcomed new students into the classroom. On that first day of school, the classroom full of children sounded like, well, a classroom full of children. By November, however, teachers learned to identify the distinct voices of each student. In music, we call distinct sounds timbre and it helps us distinguish the sound of a violin from a guitar; Jack’s voice from Aidan’s voice; and even aids in phonemic awareness by helping us hear the difference between the sound of a letter “v” and the sound of the letter “b.”

How people perceive timbre

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University recently created a computer model that mirrored how people make judgment calls regarding timbre. In the study, participants listened to two sounds played by different musical instruments and rated how similar the sounds appeared. The computer model recognized similar subtle differences in sounds that human participants did. For example, both acknowledged that the violin and cello appeared to be closer in sound to each other than a violin and flute and wind and percussive instruments were the most different.

“There is much to be learned from how the human brain processes complex information such as musical timbre and translating this knowledge into improved computer systems and hearing technologies,” researcher Moanya Elhilali said in the article, “Music in our ears: The Science of Timbre.

We look forward to the next phase of this research!

Connection between timbre, phonemes, and early literacy

In ABC Music & Me, our early literacy and language curriculum, children explore the concepts of timbre whenever they compare the differences between and among sounds. Each week in class, children may participate in active listening, singing, vocal play, and instrument exploration activities to teach them auditory discrimination. That same sound discrimination helps children hear the minute differences between letter sounds or phonemes, which supports early literacy and language development. Plus, researchers agree that music improves phonemic awareness in young children.

For more information about using ABC Music & Me to teach young children early literacy and language development, email us at