Rhythms of Childhood

Story by June 13, 2016
Children under six are developing basic music competence; that is they are developing a sense of rhythm which seems instinctual.

If we consider the origins of recorded history, we don’t have to look far to see the importance that rhythm has played in social life. As humans, we are oriented towards rhythm; the first familiar rhythm is the beating of our mother’s heart which serves as a point of reference and a comfort to the newborn.

In the young child we see rhythm emerge as clapping, moving, head shaking, bouncing – any motor response to the rhythm is a step on the journey to rhythmic proficiency. Parents are their child’s most important music teacher because their attitudes and actions profoundly influence how a child approaches music.

Here are three ways to support the development of basic rhythm competence at home:

Older children can make their own rhythm sticks with some adult help by sawing a 5/8 “ dowel (48”) into lengths of 8” which makes about three pairs. This is a perfect opportunity for your young child to do some big carpentry work – by providing a small sanding block, safety glasses and a space to make sawdust they can sand the rough edges. The sticks can then be ‘sealed’ by layering coats of watercolor – about three. For more information check out this tutorial.

The thing to keep in mind is that nothing fancy is needed to support your child’s rhythmic development. The most important first step is simply sharing music you love and you want to sing or play. Here’s to making music together!

About Mercedes
Mercedes Paine Castle is an Assistant to Infancy and Pedagogical Director at Portland Montessori Collaborative (pdxMC). She has been guiding infants and toddlers towards independence since 2003.

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