Issue 65: Finding the Pulse

Finding the pulse of a piece of music isn’t always as straightforward as you might think. The children are often distracted by the rhythm, and clap the rhythm instead of the pulse.





I have discovered that if you tell them to nod their heads in time to the music before they start trying to clap the pulse, they are more likely to get it right when they clap. I think that it is because it is so hard to “nod” a rhythm; try it yourself with something like “Humpty Dumpty” or “The Grand Old Duke of York”…


I have used the “nod” technique for getting classes of children to play together as an ensemble. If you start the pulse (from a backing track, or a keyboard, or just counting out loud), and ask the children to start nodding in time to the beat, there is a very good chance that when you give the signal to play (for example; “rea-dy-stea-dy-off-we-go”) they will all play at the same speed. At least to begin with.

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