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November beat

Things about beat may be taught:  like tempo, time signatures, musical math and notes/bar.   However, the most important aspect of beat is better caught than taught.   That aspect encompasses the essence of what beat is, feeling the beat, keeping the beat, finding the beat within.

The first beat we experience is that of our mother’s heart when we are in utero.  Beat surrounds us and marks time even before we know what time is.

Most of us make the leap of understanding musical beat fairly easily.  For a few, however, that leap is hard to cross.  Everyone in the class will benefit from more time spent moving with the beat of music.  The power of conformity helps the few who do not easily “get” the beat.  Following along with the crowd of students will help the sense of beat in all participating.

Orff instruments need a sense of the beat for most accompaniments.   Its tempting to “help” a student play the mallets on xylophone bars with the beat by moving their hands  BUT, don’t give in to this particular temptation.   The forced power dynamic being played out does not help a learner to experience beat.  Instead, stand behind the student and lightly tap the beat on their shoulders.

Traveling in Africa I experienced a world where song is always accompanied by feet that move with the beat.   Try it with music students.   End classes not just with a student choice of song, but with everyone on their feet and moving with the beat!