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    I have learnt that the first fundamental to teach in music is the pulse! When children start to feel the pulse and clap or stamp in time, they are experiencing the foundation of nearly all music, the world over! In all the games in Active Music Digital, there is a steady pulse running through them that the children can walk to, clap to or do different actions to and when they have had plenty of experience in this, you can start to explain what the actual word ‘pulse’ means. I explain pulse as being like a heartbeat – sometimes slow, sometimes fast, but always regular (or else something’s wrong!).

    Then comes rhythm. I am sometimes surprised in the training I do with teachers that many struggle with the difference between the pulse and the rhythm. I explain rhythm as ‘going with the words’ – because even if there aren’t words, the children usually get what I mean and it’s a good starting point.

    Have you ever played the RHTYHM / PULSE game? You need a table tennis bat with an ‘R’ for rhythm on one side and a ‘P’ for pulse on the other. While the children are chanting a well-known chant, hold up the bat for them to clearly see. If it says ‘R’, they clap the rhythm while chanting and if it says ‘P’, they tap the pulse on their knees while chanting. It’s a great way to practice the difference between the pulse and the rhythm and it can be done with any song or chant.

    Active Music Digital is full to the brim with specific rhythm games and the beginnings of notation, composition and improvisation using rhythms.
    We use stick notation to show rhythms as it’s easier to say ‘TA’ than to say ‘crotchet’ for 1 beat – and it also fits in with the actual rhythm it depicts. The children learn really easily this way and end up being able to read, compose and improvise music all based around this understanding.

    I will talk more about rhythm later on, but please share your views on rhythm games, what you like, what works for you etc as well as letting me know which of the Active Music rhythm games you particularly like.

    I will leave you with a challenge… Think of a simple chant you know well. Try and walk the pulse and tap the rhythm. Not too difficult? Now try to walk the RHYTHM and clap the PULSE!!!!! For many people that’s a whole new ball game! It’s a good one for your more advanced pupils though!!

    Best wishes.


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