Exploring rhythm and beat

11 Apr 2018

George Gershwin said that if you’ve got rhythm, music and your gal, you can’t ask for anything more. Cy Coleman said that the rhythm of life is a powerful beat, but despite wanting to turn the beat around Gloria Estefan tells us the rhythm is going to get you.

So what are Rhythm and Beat? Understanding Rhythm and Beat is key to learning about and appreciating music and can often be interchangeable terms. All naturally occurring sequencing of sounds have rhythmic characteristics, from human speech to waves crashing on the shore. Rhythm is ultimately about sounds in time. It is used to describe a specific pattern of sounds.

Beat is the steady pulse of music and is what we find ourselves tapping our foot and clapping along to. Beat of course can change within a piece of music. Think of your heart beating. When it is calm it has a regular pulsing sound. When we are active, it speeds up. The beat in a song can be the same.  Listen to some of your favourite songs or the radio with your child and see if you can hear the beat. We often find that the drum or percussion instruments are what help us stay in time. You may encourage your child to find things in your house which have a beat such as the dishwasher or washing machine.

Appreciating a range of musical styles with your children is invaluable and is a great way to share what you love about music.  So crack out your favourite tunes, turn up the radio and let your child see you enjoy music!

‘There is music wherever there is rhythm, as there is life wherever there beats a pulse.’  Igor Stravinsky, Composer.