One of the core components of music is a steady beat. Think of it like your own heartbeat: it’s the action that powers the rest of your body. The same is true of steady beat in music. This provides all musicians with the pump that flows through the music that is played.
That’s why steady beat is often one of the very first things we teach in music class. With even our pre-k and kindergarten students, steady beat is the foundation for everything else. Yet, it is also one of the most challenging musical components for students to master.
Today, I’d like to share a simple way to introduce steady beat and use it as an arts integration strategy:
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TRY YOUR OWN EXPERIMENT
Often, when students start with a beat, they have a tendency to either speed up or slow down. The idea of “steadiness” is difficult. In fact, you can try it yourself with this little experiment:
- Set a timer for 60 seconds.
- Turn away from the timer and tap on your heart 60 times. Try intentionally to keep it steady.
- See if you finish before, after or with the timer when it goes off.
Of course, there are variables with this experiment that you want to monitor. You may want to start with the timer to get a sense of how long a space there is between taps. But once you begin and have a few taps in, you should be able to turn away and then see if you were able to maintain that steady beat.
Now that you’ve done your own experiment, you can see why music teachers spend so much time on this concept. In fact, many music teachers will spend up to a month with young children getting it down pat. Because once you have this concept mastered, the whole world of musical expression, performance, and creation opens up.
APPLYING THE CONCEPT
Once your students are steady beat pros, you’ll be able to start using this as a strategy with your arts integration lessons. Use steady beat with read-alouds to maintain fluency.
You can also explore mathematical patterns and fractions using a steady beat as your grounded foundation. You could explore the idea of time and space using the jump roping idea that I shared in the video.
There are so many ways to creatively explore music through arts integration. Hopefully, this steady beat idea will get you started on a long musical journey of your own.
Mary is a STEAM TOSA, Project Lead the Way Launch Lead Teacher, and an Orff Schulwerk music specialist. Her eclectic background, along with her 28 years of elementary classroom teaching, gives her a unique perspective on Arts Integration.