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Teaching Music and Music Making for the Classroom Teacher

Some techniques for teaching the basics of primary music and integrating meaningful music into other subject areas usable by teachers with no music training

 


PART ONE
THE BEAT

guh-THUMP, guh-THUMP, guh-THUMP, guh-THUMP, goes your heartbeat.



( To make the heartbeat STOP, click stop on the crescendo! Player)

At the very core of our lives is the beat. It is a mystical thing, this repetition of sound over and over. It is amazing, the fascination that springs from what seems to be a boring and simple activity: clapping or keeping an even and steady beat. But perhaps I am ahead of myself. Perhaps you need convincing!

Primary teachers often feel great difficulty in teaching music to their classes. Those teachers who have little or no musical experience feel they don't have the talent or skill to teach music. Teachers are often self-conscious about their singing voices. So where can you begin, when you have no musical knowledge yourself?


The Beat...

The place where all music begins is with the beat. No matter what grade you teach, it is imperative to find opportunities for your children to keep the beat.
"What do you mean?," you say. "Keep the beat to what? I can't sing. Besides, the kids will be bored and I'd be embarrassed...," you say.

Well, let me reassure you. The beat is something that we all like to keep, and you don't need to have any musical knowledge to do it. We all have clapped our hands, danced, nodded our head or just tapped our toes in time to music. This simple act is at the very heart of music making (so to speak..). Many professional musicians will tell you that the distinction between a good musician and a poor one is most accurately assessed by the strength of his or her feel for the beat. This "feel" is crucial and it is strongly affected by early childhood experiences. You do not even have to have music to keep the beat, although every opportunity should be taken to keep the beat to music when it is performed or listened to.

Before outlining activities, there are a few basic principles for keeping a beat, The first rule is to concentrate on keeping the beat very steady. It should be emphasized with children that the beat is not a speed contest to see who can go fastest. It is, rather, an exercise in keeping together a very - even - steady - beat. For many of the activities that will follow, it is essential to keep the beat as slow as possible. For children at an older age you can even point out the truth that the slower you keep the beat the more difficult it is to it keep steady. So the-

challengeisnothowfastyougo,

but how slow you

can go and still

keep the

beat stea-

dy.

-


Click the NEXT PAGE . It has an activity you can try first yourself and then with your class.


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