Sometimes music theory can be a bit scary, and it can have a reputation for being a bit boring and difficult. But this can be easily overcome this by making it fun through games and rhythm & movement activities.
Children always find it much easier to accept basic theory concepts by playing games. Then the lesson becomes a fun activity, and kids will always learn more effectively when they are having fun!
When teaching note values, I introduce the notes as a family. Kids love the characters and giving the notes identities like this makes the lesson much easier to grasp.
It goes down so well with the kids that it becomes a regular activity and this makes it even more effective as a teaching tool.
A Fun Way To Teach Note Values : Magic Feet Follow The Beat
- This game is ideal for music classes or played with a group of friends.
- You need a tambourine or drum, and a bit of space.
- ‘Blowing some magic’ into the hands is a very good way to get everyone joining in and engaged. Then tell them to rub the ‘magic’ on their feet, and then they’re ready to stamp around with gusto!
Take One Step at A time
- Introduce each note in turn by demonstrating the beat on the tambourine .
- Slow beats like Daddy Semibreve(Whole Notes) to the count of 4 with giant steps.
- Middle sizes steps for Mummy Minim (Half Notes) which last 2 beats.
- Marching like a soldier for Big Brother Crotchet (Quarter Notes) which last 1 beat.
- Trotting along with small steps for the Little Quaver Twins (Eighth Notes) which share 1/2 a beat together.
- When they’ve got the hang of each different note and the sound and action it makes, you can ask them to guess which one you are playing and trying to catch them out!
- Use the printable below to hold up and show how each note corresponds to an action. There’s an American version (with whole notes, half notes, quarter notes and eighth notes) and a European version (Semibreves, Minims, Crotchets and Quavers). The concept of the note family applies quite easily to both.
The children can take it in turns to have a go on the tambourine and then you can call out the notes by name (Mummy Minim etc) to see if they can make the correct beat to match the notes. They are so busy having fun, they don’t realise that you are testing them!
I’ve always used this method because I find that children understand it easily and it works. But if you feel that using the traditional family roles isn’t appropriate for you then you could easily substitute the characters with animals of varying size. For instance: an elephant for the whole note, a giraffe for the half note, a pony for the quarter notes and little rabbits for the eighth notes.
If you are new to music theory, read my Introducing the Note Family post, which explains basic note values in a child friendly way, and check out my How To Read Music Made Easy ebook which is accompanied by lots of handy printables and worksheets.