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Crafts are an every day or just about every day occurrence in my house.

We love getting paint, glue sticks, scissors, pipe cleaner, fuzzy dots and paper out to create anything and everything!

One look at the video below and you’ll see how much crafting love my girls have given to our crafting table alone. ;o)

It’s not every day that I can turn a craft easily into a music lesson, but when we got out the valentine cupcake liners this week, it all clicked. 

Rhythm is one of the most important concepts in music. If you want to learn more about how we sequentially teach rhythm to babies, toddlers, preschoolers and pre-K students, keep reading! 

Create basic rhythmic notation with your child in a flash!

It’s super easy, quick and so much fun!

 

Here’s what you need:

Cupcake Liners

2 Colors of Construction Paper

Scissors

Glue

 

To create a Quarter Note:

  1. Turn one cupcake liner inside out.
  2. Glue the underside to the bottom of your first piece of construction paper.
  3. Cut out a long slender piece of your second color of construction paper to make a note stem.
  4. Glue it to the right side of your cupcake liner to make a Quarter note.

 

To create two eighth notes:

  1. Turn two cupcake liners inside out.
  2. Glue the undersides to the bottom of your paper next to one another.
  3. Cut out two long slender pieces of another color of construction paper to make two note stems.
  4. Glue the stems to the right side of your cupcake liners to make a your eighth note stems.
  5. To make the beam at the top, cut out a slender piece of construction paper (the same color as the stems) and trim it to the width of the two note stems that are already in place.
  6. Glue it to the top of the note stems to finish your two eighth notes.

 

To create two sixteenth notes:

  1. Turn two cupcake liners inside out.
  2. Glue the undersides to the bottom of your paper next to one another.
  3. Cut out two long slender pieces of another color of construction paper to make two note stems.
  4. Glue the stems to the right side of your cupcake liners to make a your eighth note stems.
  5. To make the two beams at the top, cut out two slender pieces of construction paper (the same color as the stems) and trim them to the width of the two note stems that are already in place.
  6. Glue them to the top of the note stems with a small space in between the two beams to finish your two eighth notes.

 

In a nutshell, what is rhythmic Notation?

We read the English language because of words formed from our English alphabet. Musicians read music because of the patterns formed by little dark dots you see on a sheet of music called note heads. When stems, beams or flags are added to the note heads, this assigns specific time values to the notes. When the notes are played in a row with the specific time values, a rhythmic pattern is formed.

When rhythmic notation is written on a musical staff, it not only communicates rhythm, but also a melody. A staff consists of 5 lines and 4 spaces with either a treble clef sign at the beginning for middle to high notes, or a bass clef sign for middle to low notes.

 

When is the right time to introduce rhythmic notation?

Here at Musik at Home, I teach Musikgarten’s phenomenal curriculum for Babies, Toddlers, Preschoolers and Pre-K. Our mantra is always to introduce musical concepts “Sound before Sight” (aural before visual). We want rhythm patterns to become so ingrained in a child’s being and vocabulary that when they finally see the visual representation of the note heads and stems on paper at age 4-5, it will be no big deal for the child to decipher between the different patterns. The sound of the patterns will transfer intuitively to what is seen on paper and vice versa.

 

In the baby and toddler classes we start by introducing rhythm patterns aurally on a neutral syllable, “ba.”

In the preschool classes, we begin again on a neutral syllable “ba” and then gradually advance students to the brilliant rhythm language coined by music researcher, Edwin Gordon. For simple two beat patterns, he uses the syllables “Du du, du-de (day) du.” These patterns are still only spoken aurally. They are not shown to students on paper at the preschool level.

Musikgarten introduces graphic notation at the age of 4-5 in the Pre-K curriculum called “Music Makers at Home and Around the World” (which I plan to add to our class offerings here!). In this class level, we begin to show students that the movement of sounds from low sounds to high sounds can be notated visually. Only after introducing this simple idea of graphic notation aurally (by ear) and then on paper (by sight), we begin to introduce the visual representation of rhythmic notation alongside the spoken rhythm language which they have been exposed to from infancy. We are not as concerned at this point about terminology such as “quarter notes, eighth note,” etc. We simply want students to transfer what they have heard aurally since they were babies & toddlers step by step into knowledgeable notation reading.

 

Students who go on to take Musikgarten’s keyboard classes will see the rhythmic notation again in the context of learning to play the piano. It is a fascinating progression that I’ve been able to witness now for 12 years! Students in my piano classes who come to me with a strong foundation in these rhythm patterns as little ones in my early childhood Musik at Home classes learn to play the piano the fastest and have the best content retention rate at ages 5-7.

 

Even if your child has never had the chance to repeat rhythm patterns up to this point, it’s still a LOT of fun to let your child catch a glimpse of music notation with this simple craft.

 

And, even though we’re not that concerned about naming the exact type of note seen on the paper before the keyboard years, it never hurts to let your child hear the words Quarter Note, Eighth Note and Sixteenth Note to make it a part of his or her vocabulary in the early years!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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