Anybody else have kids that watch Trolls? My two, particularly my eight year old daughter just loves it and I have to confess it's one of the few Netflix choices by my kids I am very happy to sit, watch and laugh at with them!
The vibrant colours, cool music and moral stories featuring Poppy and Branch are a complete joy.
But I'm not actually here to talk about Trolls, aside from looking to borrow the catchy subtitle to their Netflix series. I want to talk about steady beat. Seems so simple. Not woth a mention, even. As exciting or relevant as a ticking clock. Tedious?
However, it's something I refer to in most music teaching sessions, solo, group and whole class and an aspect of musical awareness I feel duty bound to address and work on in every teacher training session.
An awareness of a steady beat is central to our musical security, but maybe even our psycological, emotional and physical security, too. Think about it. Even babies in the womb, the closest and first experience of a steady beat is in the form of a mother's heatbeat.
When we walk and run we move to a steady beat. When we carry out physical tasks such as cutting with a knife or using a hammer, our motions are in line with a steady bea
t. When we participate in sports and activities such as swimming or dancing, our movements are most effective and satisfying when we work within the framework of a steady beat. When we are listening to music that we enjoy we respond by tapping fingers, toes, nodding our heads or make actions with an awareness of a steady beat.
A study conducted in 2002 by University College, London concluded that an awareness of beat can even influence the way young children assimilate speech patterns, which may in turn affect reading and writing abilities.
I would also hold the view that participating in steady beat activities gives a self-regulating effect on an individual, something that can be crucial when a young person is vulnerable or in need of emotional regulation.
In my latter years of music teaching, therefore, I have been placing massive emphasis on awareness of steady beat. I personally have seen participation, engagement and skill levels all improve through the undertaking of regular steady beat activities within music sessions, right from foundation stage through to Primary Seven and beyond. Children settle so well within a seemingly simple, repetitive activity and yet the benefits, when made available over a consitent period of time, are not to be underestimated!