19 NovWeekly Note: Steady Beats

Can you feel it? 

Steady beat is basic to just about everything.  Walking, talking, bouncing the basketball, dancing, playing a musical instrument all require the ability to keep a steady beat.  That is why we practice keeping the steady beat in soooo many ways in the Kindermusik classroom.  In the babies’ class we bounce, we do exercises, shake the shakers all to the steady beat.  In the Our Time class we bounce, shake the shakers, tap the sticks, beat the drum and shake the bells.  We also march, walk, tip toe, slide and more to the steady beat!

So what is the steady beat?

Just to clarify, the steady beat is a consistent, repetitive, unchanging pulse.  Rhythm on the other hand, is the words or syllables of a rhyme or song or the melody if there are no words.  Rhythm is a combination of short and long sounds which may even include rests (periods of silence).  Written music allows us to read the rhythm; steady beat is more abstract and requires “keen listening and feeling to detect.”  (Teaching Movement & Dance by Phyllis Weikart)

U.S. Research by the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation suggests that a young child’s ability to keep a steady beat is one of the best indicators of later academic success. 

Musical activities provide the foundation for sensitivity to the flow and cadence of spoken language.  In infancy music slows down language so that baby can hear phonemes (the smallest part of the word).  For toddlers, music provides the child with the emotional content of language as well as sensitivity to the cadence of language, grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure and syntax.

Steady beat is an organizer for the child, purposeful and calming. It is a frontal lobe skill as are attending and organizing. The research carried out by High/Scope Educational Research Foundation shows a positive correlation of steady beat with reading, vocabulary, math, music, and physical coordination. Steady beat seems to help in these areas because it contributes to a child’s ability to concentrate, understand space and distance, and have better control of physical movements.  A pilot study with at-risk 4 year old children in Michigan (Peterlin, 1991) indicated that when beat competence was enhanced, children increased their inner control.  They spent more time on task and improved their self-management and motor control.

For more information on steady beat and the benefits of steady beat click here.

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