Kindergarten Keeps the Beat in Music

Earlier this week, Chapin’s Kindergarten students gathered in the music room and were immersed in the hands-on discovery of two vital aspects of music… rhythm and tempo.

As they sat in a circle on the rug, the students warmed up their voices to begin the class by going around the room one by one and singing their names, and with a special exercise know as The Echo Game. “Will you be my echo friend? Can you echo when I end?” Lower School Music Teacher Jessica Beja sang to kick off the game. During each round, a different student was chosen as the “beat leader.” She would clap her hands, tap her shoulders, and slap her knees in keeping with the song’s rhythm and her classmates would be her “echo” by following along.

“Now I want you to try to keep the beat steady but speed up,” Mrs. Beja encouraged. The song increased speed and the students clapped and tapped along as fast as they could. They also practiced keeping a slow beat.

When they had played the game at all three tempos, Mrs. Beja began singing a new song!

Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn around.

Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch the ground.

Teddy bear, teddy bear, show your shoe.

Teddy bear, teddy bear, that will do.

After listening to their teacher sing, the students practiced each verse until they were ready to perform the entire thing on their own. Their teacher danced along as they sang the song with different tempos, from fast to slow to moderate. “Remember, the beat doesn’t get crazy; it just gets fast,” Mrs. Beja reminded them during their fast rendition.

Next, the students watched with curiosity as their teacher brought out a glockenspiel (a small instrument similar to a xylophone but with bars made of metal instead of wood). Mrs. Beja began playing notes using a pair of wooden mallets and asked the students to share their observations.

“You were doing it gently, not crazy.”

“You played a note, then paused.”

“You got the rhythm of the beat.”

With this in mind, the students held up imaginary mallets with their hands and practiced along with their teacher, being careful to move them to the rhythm of her song. Once they got the hang of it, they cheered in excitement as Mrs. Beja announced, “I think you girls are ready to play real glockenspiels!”

The class broke into small groups and sat on the rug with their mallets and instruments. While gently singing the children’s lullaby “Starlight, Starbright,” each group kept the beat by playing notes C and G on the glockenspiel, creating a twinkling wave of sound that spread beyond the music room and through the Kindergarten hallways. They began at a moderate pace, then tried playing slowly and quickly. “Remember, we learned earlier today that the beat can be fast and steady,” Mrs. Beja urged as the speed increased. After several tries, the enthusiastic group was able to make it though the entire song while both staying together and keeping an even tempo.

To end the class, the group clapped along to two different songs. One was called “I’m the Fastest Bunny Rabbit,” and the other was “Slow and Steady.” When they had finished, Mrs. Beja asked if they’d noticed anything different about the two songs. “The first one was really fast and the second one was slow,” one student replied. “Yes,” Mrs. Beja answered, “but they both had a steady beat.”

These exercises are just one example of the many ways Chapin’s Kindergarten students are exploring the world of music this year. As they left to return to their homerooms, the Kindergarten students sang a sweet song with Mrs. Beja, singing, “I’ll see you again…”

Browse photos from the class below: