The main learning outcome in my Early Years music classes is for children to feel pulse, without this basic musical element rhythm cannot be understood properly. Whether we are playing instruments, using body percussion or moving around the movement is strongly bias towards pulse and this is learnt unconsciously in fun ways.I have recently started working with a new class of children and they are already showing me they are feeling the pulse of songs. Even if you start with simple movements like swinging of arms if you hold a child’s hand and swing to the pulse they will eventually swing at the same time as you (unless of course they are deliberately going the opposite way!) – they are feeling the pulse through you. Bouncing and rocking babies is also a great way to cement the feeling of pulse.
Ask the children to make one hand into a fist – like a hammer. With the other hand flat tap their fist onto their other open hand (palm up) as you sing the song (with babies you can simply tap the babies hand to the pulse). You can repeat with the other hand. Still using a fist action ask the children to tap the bottom of their shoes, again with babies tap each foot with your hand or both of their feet together. Do one foot first and then the other – you can pretend they are hammering nails into the bottom of their shoe just like a cobbler. The image below shows where the pulse beats are ….
Developing in from the above you could choose to pretend to make a shoe – a good idea for discussing what a Cobbler is as well!
– Cutting the leather – show a cutting action with your fingers;
– Spreading glue on the sole (ready to stick the leather on) – show one palm flat and with the other hand sweep the back of the hand over the palm then back using the palm of your hand (so palms are touching) a little bit like painting – you get a nice swishy sound too;
– Attach the leather – hands flat out in front palms to ceiling bring right hand turning it over to meet the other hand (clap) first beat, second beat hands back to the starting position continue to do this through the song.
– Then pretend to hammer the nails in as above!
Ask the children to make a tapping sound by tapping them together. You can find other ways to use the claves such as tapping them on the floor, “walking” the claves, alternatively tapping the floor with the end of the clave left, right, left, right etc; using one clave as a nail and the other as the hammer and tapping the end of one clave; tap a clave on the bottom of your shoe. It is important to choose one action and sing the whole song using the same action, then change the action and sing again. The children will probably come up with some of their own ideas too. Remember to tap to the PULSE!
I was lucky enough to be given a shoe last (you can pick them up on ebay) which make a great sound when tapped with a wooden clave. You can also show the children what Cobblers used to make shoes.
This is my favourite and always great fun! Ask the children to take their shoes off and put them on their hands. First ask them to tap the shoes together (like they are clapping) whilst singing the song. They can then tap the floor, walk their shoes on the floor, tap a partners shoes with their shoes. If they have got these actions right and are tapping the pulse make the action harder by asking them to tap their own shoes first then their partners.
Once children have mastered these actions you could sing the song whilst moving around the room to the pulse. You could walk, march, stamp – pretend you are wearing different shoes ballet shoes – tiptoe or wellies – stamping (in puddles of course!). Let the children come up with their own ideas – children often have fantastic ideas!