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How To Teach Music To Children

An introduction to the Musicolor Method

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How To Teach Rhythm to Beginning Music Students

I’ve been teaching how to count rhythm to most of my students using a fun fruity way* of naming note values with easy and fun to say words.

(*Adapted from Music Mind Games)

Fruity Words For Rhythm

  • For example, a one beat (quarter note) is called LIME.
  • Two eighth notes are called  MANGO.
  • An eighth note triplet, where the three notes are played in one beat is PINEAPPLE.
  • And four sixteenth notes is HUCKLEBERRY.
This is so much more fun and easier to remember than when I was in school learning, “one -eee- and – ah.”

Practice counting the beats of any song you already know and other new ones as well.  It becomes a much easier task to learn a new piece if you have internalized the rhythm already and can then focus on the pitches and fingering.
This past week, I did just that by having several of my students learn “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” by first counting out the song in this fruity fun way.
Then, by teaching distinct hand signals for each, it adds another level of kinesthetic learning. I played the melody while the student counted out the piece.
Hand sign for 2 eighth notes, also known as Mango
After 3 or 4 times, the melody and rhythm are so ingrained, that playing it on the instrument becomes just a minor technical matter.  It’s already in the body, brain and ear!  The results?  Everyone learned much, much faster and without the stumbling and frustration.

A book I recently read describes the importance of communication using multiples levels of engagement.  Made To Stick, by brothers Chip & Dan Heath, is a NY Times Bestseller and popular among business and marketing types, but is equally usable by teachers and parents.  Anyone, looking to make their ideas “stick” can benefit.  So one of the main principles of the book is  the concept of CONCRETIZATION.  By making abstract concepts concrete, giving a physical nature to the abstract, it makes it easier to grasp.  So by adding hand signs to the funny words for each note, we add another layer of concretization.  By saying it aloud, making the hand gesture and using the Rhythm Fruit Cards words and hand signs,  we are creating a unique kinesthetic experience of what was just quarter notes, eighth notes, half notes and whole notes.
And besides, how much more fun is it to say HUCKLEBERRY, GOOSEBERRY, MANGO LIME?
I have a full set of proven tools to help you teach music in a far more effective and fun way.
You can learn more here and download free video training here.

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Andrew Ingkavet

Andrew Ingkavet is an educator, author and entrepreneur.
His belief that learning a musical instrument builds skills vital to success in life has led to a thriving music school in Brooklyn, NY. Internationally, Andrew helps music teachers with the Musicolor Method, an online curriculum/training as well as a 5 star-rated book,The Game of Practice: with 53 Tips to Make Practice Fun. He is also founder of 300 Monks, a music licensing company.

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2 Comments

  1. Hello,

    I teach high school instrumental music, and the biggest roadblock with my guitar students and some of the younger (and older) band students is reading rhythms quickly and efficiently. I have always taught through the numbers system (1 & 2 e & a, etc.), but have noticed that many of them are still struggling. I then tried a different approach with “Ti’s and Ta’s” and that seemed to help many of them. I like your concept that is presented here, and have seen it work in the elementary general music classroom. How do you address more complex rhythms, particularly when part of your “huckleberry” is a rest, or if you have rhythms like eighth, sixteenth, sixteenth (and vice versa)?

    Thanks for the input!

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