Like dynamics, tempo is also very easy. The tempo of a song is just how fast a song is played and is very intuitive for your child because they already have a good idea of the concepts of fast and slow. It is easy to introduce and label tempos in music for your child because of this understanding.
- Make it personal to your child. We used our voices to introduce dynamics to our child. This is very similar because we are going to use the child’s body to introduce and reinforce the ideas of tempo to them. Talk about running (fast), walking (medium), tip toeing (slowly) and galloping or skipping. Do these with your child. Ask them which is faster? Which is slower? Let them feel the tempos at which all of theses things happen. Take it farther by giving tempos to the life around you. The man and woman taking a slow leisurely walk in the park; the man jogging in the park; the little girl skipping along the path. How are these tempos different? Which are faster and slower? Do the same with vehicles; airplanes, trucks and cars, bicycles and tricycles. What are their tempos? You can probably think of many more ways to study the tempos of the life around you.
- Play and sing songs of different tempos. Gradually start talking about the songs you sing and listen to, referring back to your talks of tempo in life. Do you think this is a fast or slow song? (start with these two and get into the subtleties of medium and fast or slow later) Does this song feel like it is skipping? (some songs, like Skip to my Lou and This is the Way We Wash Our Clothes, have a triple or skipping feel to them. Faster triple feel has a galloping feel to it.) Listen to the music around you and see how it feels faster and slower.
- Move and sing to songs of different tempos. It is the natural next step to start moving with the songs. Skip along with Skip to My Lou, or A Tisket, A Tasket. Gallop with the theme from the Lone Ranger. Jog with the theme from Spongebob Squarepants. Rock a pretend baby slowly with Rock A Bye Baby. Of course you can think of many more movements to pair with your own songs.
- Relate tempos with musical terms. There are so many terms in music to be extremely precise in what a composer wants to express when he writes music. I teach lento, andante, allegro, and vivace at the beginning because they are common terms and they fit with the speeds we have been practicing; lento (slow), andante (literally walking in Italian), allegro (fast), and vivace (very fast). Gradually and interchangeably use these terms when practicing with or talking about the music you love. After a while they will be using the terms to describe the music they hear also.Give your child that head start in the world of music literacy.
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