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.

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