Blog #44 How to Teach Music to Children

3/4 4/4 6/8 bars beats clapping freebie making music teaching easy music training rhythms and beats for ballet teaching music to children teaching musicality May 02, 2021

Do YOU know how to teach music to your dancers? Why should you?

How do you do that anyway?

Good questions that deserve an answer!

Do you know how to teach music? I have no idea, but you'll have a solid idea how after reading this blog post!

Why should you teach music to your dancers? Well, that's like asking why a home cook should learn the attributes of different cooking ingredients. If you know that you can thicken a sauce with corn starch (keeping the sauce more transparent looking) or with flour (cloudy looking but just as effective) you as a cook can make choices about which thickener you want, or you can pivot if you don't have one of them.

The more knowledge you have, the better cook you'll be!

The more knowledge and understanding your dancers have, the better dancers they'll be! So, game on, teacher, let's get going! 

How do you teach music to young dancers? Easily with my help! 

3 Music Skills Your Dancers MUST Know How to Do!

  1. They've got to learn to listen to the left hand of the pianist (the low notes) to figure out whether the music is duple or triple!
    1. It's really that easy! The left hand will contain 1 of 2 patterns. 
      1. Either it will have A: (1) bass note, (+) chord|(2) bass note, (+) chord  OR..
      2. It will have pattern B: (1) Bass note (+) chord (a) chord |(2) Bass note, (+) chord, (a) chord. If the triple meter is faster, the 1 + a 2 + a of a 6/8 will have a feeling of a small bicycle wheel spinning! The dancer count is always at the bottom of the spin!
        You can feel this by sticking a finger or pencil out in front of you and then draw small cycles in the air to a 6/8!
  2. Your students need to understand that what they're hearing is actually organized in the sheet music for the musician! Here's how this breaks down..
    1. First, the constant underlying pulse they feel is called the "beat" in music. They can clap the beats without even being aware of whether it's a 4/4 or 3/4 or a 6/8, just get them clapping beats to realize that those are a constant even pulse regardless of the melody!
    2. Secondly, they need to understand that the beats are organized into groupings where some beats are stronger than others (dancer counts versus the '+'s in dancer talk, lol); this helps your dancers better understand the music that they're dancing and listening to!  Understanding the strong beats versus the weaker ones sets your dancers up to begin to understand the idea of Bars of music, not just endless unorganized beats! The beats get sectioned off into equal parts!
    3. And finally, They need to recognize that the strongs and the weaks are giving them the structure of the time signature, 4/4 or 3/4. 
  3.  Now you want to get them MOVING to it!
    1. For the 4/4 time signature I recommend clapping the beats first, then clapping the bars only (Clap, ___, ____, ____  Clap, ____, ____, ____,) THEN moving to the 4/4 in a way that resonates with that music type (ie. marching or tendus). 
      OPTIONS: You could do your sets of 4 beat clapping in a column or a row. You could ask them to tap their shoulders on 1 and then clap the other 3 beats. You could clap beat 1 and then do leg slaps for the other 3 beats. In some way, ask them to organize their beats into groupings of 4 as soon as they realize what they're listening to, that way when you ask them to clap the bars, they're actually already doing that!
    2. For the 3/4 time signature, again, get your dancers clapping the beats first (accenting beat 1 in some way), then clap the bars, then moving to it in a way that makes sense (ie. sways with lovely arms? Down up up waltz walking? Whatever you pick, make sure that they are aware that they need to be DOWN on the dancer count, or each beat 1!). 
    3. For the 6/8 time signature, again, clap those beats! This is going to be fast so make sure you pick slower 6/8 music (ie. NOT a tarantella! lol) so they can actually keep up! Follow that up with clapping the bars, this is going to feel crazy slow since there's 6 beats in each bar (see below). Then, when it's time to move, I have no doubt in my mind that your dancers will be happy to skip!  Right?!

And that's it!! Tons to think about and try doing! If you're thinking you want to give it a shot but how on earth are you going to remember it all, I've created a special FREEBIE just for you! It's a summary of everything you learned in this blog post!

Grab it today and refer to it as often as you like!

In Conclusion..

If you're thinking to yourself, "WOW, that was awesome but I feel like I can't really teach that because I'm pretty new to music knowledge myself", then you NEED to grab my Rhythms and Beats for Ballet series where I do all the dirty work for you!

Your dancers can learn all of this music rhythm clapping, etc from me in some really fun videos (where all the slides you looked at above are from!).  

PLUS, I created word searches, crosswords, colouring pages, etc for each music type to function as a reminder and review of what they learned in the videos!

There's a TON of ballet teachers already using and enjoying these super fun and VALUABLE time-saving teaching resources so I want to make sure that you know about them as well!

It's really awesome and I don't want you to miss out on the series! 

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