Music theory can sometimes have a reputation for being a bit boring and difficult, but this can avoided by teaching it through games and activities that little ones enjoy. Children will happily accept basic theory concepts by playing games which combine the lesson with having some fun! They love characters and giving things identities, so when teaching the note values (how many beats they are worth) I always introduce them as a family. They often find this easier to grasp.
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. Once they have some magic, tell them to rub it on their feet, and then they’re ready to stamp around with gusto!
- 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 have got the hang of each different note and the sound and action it makes, you can experiment with making them guess which one you are playing and trying to catch them out!
You can use the printable below to hold up and show how each note corresponds to an action. We have both 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 you can call out the notes by name (Mummy Minim etc) and 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!
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.
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