Darlene Abbott | Music Mom

Movin’ & Groovin’ Part 2


In Moovin’ and Groovin’ Part 1, we talked about General Movement tips and Fun movement. Now, we will look at purposeful movements and how this benefits our students.

Purposeful Movements

  • Excercise. Movement, especially those to develop gross motor skills, often looks like exercise.  However, when paired with music, it develops the child as a whole. In music class, we call exercise “body engergizers,” it is still exercise. (smile)  Music Teachers need movement and Physical Education Teachers need music.  The two go hand in hand. The following quotes are as published in Early Child Connections. 

Music evokes movement, and children delight in and require movement for their development and growth.

Developmentally appropriate music activities involve the whole child-the child’s desire for language, the body’s urge to move, the brain’s attention to patterns, the ear’s lead in initiating communication, the voice’s response to sounds, as well as the eye-hand coordination associated with playing musical instruments

  • Steady Beat Movements. Movement helps to find the steady beat. This is also a precursor to pitch.  Yes, you read that correctly.  It really works!  Developing steady beat will develop coordination and pitch in children. Read the post on Pitch here to learn more. One of the most important points to remember when teaching steady beat is that you need to allow the focus to be on the beat.  Children, even though they are the same age, can be at different stages of development.  One child can sing while they are working on steady beat. Other children need to concentrate on one or the other. So, if you focus is steady beat, then don’t correct wrong words, just focus on the steady beat.

Early in my teaching career, I taught a First Grade Choir – ten boys and two girls. Pitch was scarce. I tried every trick I had been taught in my music education classes. Every activity and game we played, I tried to find an angle to teach pitch. Looking for some connection between pitch and some other developmental ability we would learn through music. Then I learned about Helen Kemp and her philosophy of steady beat being the basis for good pitch. So I revised my plan. Still using scale work and ear training, I became much more intentional about a steady beat. Finally improvement in the group as a whole. Steady beat improved, but so did their pitch.

  • Choreography Movements. Choreography with children is never going to be perfectly in sync and crisp.  However, there are a few things that we can do with our kids to clean it up. Make big movements hit on the beat. Or speak the movements in a rhythm that children can easily remember.  For instance the steps may include placing arms straight up in the air, then out to the sides, then down by their sides. I would say on the beat, “Up, side, down, repeat.” What about arms and pointing different directions or the face that some elbows are straight and some are bent?  This becomes and issue if you a holding the arms up for a length of time that the audience will have a chance to see the differences. If that is an important move that will be seen, work on it.  Stand several children up front with arms bent all the different ways that they will do the move, so that the other kids can see how bad it looks.  Everytime you rehearse that move, just choreography or with the song, make “much” about that move. (in a positive light of course.)  I know the children in my class or choir have this, when I tell them that we are about to do “_____” song. Then I will ask them, what do they think I will tell them to watch or listen for.  When they can repeat things like “straight arms, watch you for the cut off, etc.” then I know they have it.
  • Time Signature moves. I love to use moves to teach time signatures. When we use arms, I always start with arms straight in the air. From there the arms always go straight down on beat 1.  Next they could go in any manner of patterns to accomplish the time signature with which you are working. This allows for a very easy connection that when they are following the director, beat 1 is always straight down. When using legs, Beat 1 is going to be down, simply by the nature of a step.


Music is such a fun way to learn. Period.  Take the extra steps to plan the movements you will use in children, whether it is a Brain Break, or something specific you are teaching. Using movement successfully will not feel chaotic. As always you can email with quesitons. Thanks for reading!

Keep singing, (and moving),

Mrs. Darlene






St. Patrick’s Day Fun


Everyone needs a little fun on St. Patricks’s Day or just in March in general.  Here are two games you need to bring the fun into your Music Class.

First, you need Looking for Golden Rhythms.  This game is all about Music Math and Time Signatures. Students are given rhythms on coins and must add the number of beats in the rhythm to put the gold into the correct Time Signature pot.


A fabulous feature of Music Mom games is that you get three different ways to play the game.  Alternate game instructions are included.  There are ideas for both small and large groups.  Often the connection between Music Math and Time Signatures is overlooked. With this second semester game, you can combine the two concepts with a very fun race.

For the race, simply print a set of pots and rhythms for each team.

  • Place the pots on a table, or the floor across the room from where students are lined up.
  • Place a bowl in the middle between the pots and students.  Cut apart a set of rhythms and place in the bowl. There is a separate bowl for each team.
  • As each child runs to their pots, they stop and draw a rhythm.  They must add the beats quickly and place the rhythm in the correct pot for their team.
  • Once they have placed their rhythm they run back and tag the next student for their turn.
  • Keep going through team members until all rhythms have been drawn from the bowl.
  • The team to finish first gets 3 extra points.
  • Check the rhythms for Team A.
  • For every rhythm correctly placed, the team gets one point.
  • For every rhythm incorrectly placed, they lose one point.
  • Add the points for all other teams.
  • The team with the most points wins. Don’t forget to add the extra points for the team that finished first.

The purpose for the drawing the rhythm on the way to the pots is so that the student cannot get help from friends standing in line.  However, they are not singled out if they misplace the rhythm.  Smaller teams will assist in classroom management because there is not as much time to wait until they go again. This may create just a little more work in cutting apart the rhythms for each team but moms are usually more than willing to assist with this.  Sometimes I will send a set of a game home with a student in a gallon resealable bag.  Before the week is out the bag is returned and ready for a game the next week.

One of the way I do this is at the beginning of the year, I ask for moms to sign up on a list called MY MOMs.  When I need game prep or laminating done or cut apart or both.  I simply email to see if anyone is available to come help or for me to send something home.

The second game you should look at is called Hat Tricks. This game is a fabulous way to show children where music symbols live in a piece of music and their function.  You can see the winter version of this game being taught here.  (This was my first live webinar, and we turned the feed on too early. (smile) Just slide the time dot to about 5 mins and the teaching starts pretty close to that time dot.)




This game is such an effective precursor to children reading music and paying attention to all of their music symbols so that they will know how to respond with their voice or instrument.  Enjoy!

I hope your St. Patrick’s Day is full of green and fun!

Keep Singing,

Mrs. Darlene