Introduction to Classical Music for Kids: Beat, Meter, and Rhythm

We are using the "Introduction to Classical Music" course from Yale University as our study back bone and foundation. In this post I would like to share the materials we used to supplement our study today.

I like how today's lecture started with  George Gershwin's song I've Got Rhythm from his 1930 musical Crazy Girl. It set the tone for our study! Before going any further we stopped and talked a bit about George Gershwin. I was surprised how much kids remembered spontaneously about each composer we stopped to talk about! We could have just proceeded with the lecture, but pausing it like that and having a talk about each composer that was mentioned so far helped our lectures to be more engaging and personal and kids enjoyed sharing all interesting facts they remembered about composers.

They were overflowing with facts about Gershwin's life, his peculiar style of compositions and story of his early piano learning. They learned about it all from Classics for Kids audio programs and the "Getting to Know the world's Greatest Composers" book on his life.

Visualizing Rhythm. We talked about different ways to visualize rhythm. Finding rhythm not just in music, but all around us: heartbeat, rain drops outside, ocean waves, ticking clock.... This Ted-Ed video offers a good additional resource on visualizing rhythm. 

Music with no rhythm (or a very subtle one!).  We listened to Gregorian Chant performed by the students of Yale following the original text on the image of a chant manuscript from the Yale rare book library. It was interesting because just a few days ago we were listening to Andrea's Bochelli rendition of "What Child is this..." that starts with Gregorian Chant ( and LOVED it!)

In Classical Music there is a beat, but its often suppressed, not as prominent as it is in pop music.  We discussed why the rock musician Brian Eno once said that "classical music is music without Africa" 🙂  We talked about drum circles that we have seen a lot in Brazil (originally brought there from Africa by all the African people that came there), we pulled out all our different percussion instruments and enjoyed some nice rhythm and daddy told us about various rhythms played  in drum circles .

As we learned about coordinates in music (pitch and duration) we also supplemented with this great short video from Ted-ED

And since the lecturer used Beethoven's music score as an example we paused and took a few minutes to review interesting facts we remembered about him! Like always, Classics for Kids has an incredible selection of audio resources about Beethoven ( and my children love listening to these audios as they go to sleep)

And you can also check out our blog post about making our very own book about Beethoven!