Compose a song with your child!
Your child can be the composer! Use straws (or any long objects) to represent long sounds, and cotton balls (or other small round objects) to represent short sounds. You could even make it edible and use pretzel sticks and marshmallows to eat when it's all done! Allow the child to arrange the short and long objects in a long continuous line on the table or floor.
Now it's time for your child to perform their masterpiece! Use different long and short sounds like "ba" for short and "loo" for long, or try fun animal sounds like "oink" for short and "moooo" for long. To make it even more musical, the child can pick a note and sing the same note all the way through on the long and short sounds instead of using the speaking voice.
Sung to the tune of "Frere Jacques"
Turkey dinner, turkey dinner.
Gather ‘round! Gather round!
Who’ll get the drum stick?
Yummy, yummy, yum stick!
All sit down, all sit down.
Cornbread muffin, chestnut stuffin’
Pudding pie - one foot high!
All of us were thinner,
‘til we came to dinner.
Me oh my! Me oh my!
The first step to rhythmic competency is understanding that long and short sounds, along with the musical “rest” (a beat of silence), can be combined into varying patterns. These patterns then develop into rhythms that may be clapped, stomped, patted, sung, or played on instruments. Practice clapping out short (2– or 4-beat) patterns and have your children “echo” you like “copy-cats”. Don’t forget to use the rest a lot too… We put a finger to lips & say “sshhh!” OR just whisper the word “REST” !
Seem like an advanced concept? It may not be as complicated as you think! Of course, notation instruction depends on the age and/or musical maturity level of each particular group. Use of proper terminology is important and should be used whenever possible, however most pre-school children will work with just three notes (see front side), and the silent (or whispered) “rest” . Two year-olds may only learn to feel notation through rhythms, while three year-olds may progress into 2- or 4- note patterns. Four and five year-olds will likely go a step further and be able to read simple notation patterns and other music symbols. You’ll probably be surprised how quickly they pick up on this new skill and how much fun you & your child can have with it!
What a SPOOKtacular time our little “goblins” had in Music during October as we focused on the Duration of tones - or Long and Short Sounds. We explored the many sounds we hear in nature, in our everyday world, AND in Music! Students learned to respond to various tonal lengths with their bodies, voices, and instruments, then recognize their differences when they heard or experienced these sounds. Of course, we also incorporated lots of movement activities in which the children listened, moved, and played their instruments with similar tone lengths as the music.
In November, we begin to combine patterns of long & short with the ever-important Rest (silence) to create Rhythm! Older students will begin to “READ” simple music notation! Reinforce these ideas by helping your child recognize & play with patterns they see & hear every day.
We can find endless examples of rhythm patterns with very distinct long and short sounds. Here are a few kids will love that lend themselves to creative movement and imaginative play. Short sounds can often be depicted by tip-toeing, jumping, drumming or just pretending to conduct. What movements can you and your child think of for the long sounds in these pieces? You can easily find them online.
Franz Joseph Haydn - Surprise Symphony (lots of short sounds followed by one long (& loud) sound)
Camille Saint-Saens - Carnival of the Animals: Royal March of the Lion (long roooooars)
Ludwig Van Beethoven -5th Symphony (famous short-short-short-loooong theme)
John Williams - Star Wars Theme(short-short-short-looong- looong theme throughout
Richard Wagner - “Wedding March” from Lohengrin - (long-short- short- looong)