Music Resources for Young Kids & Their Parents

C4A faculty bassist Josh Houchin playing the snake game with some young friends.

Welcome!  This page started on 3-28-20 after we posted this livestream video, with tips for how parents can work with their young kids on music games, on C4A’s FaceBook page. The focus of this page is to recap ideas from the video (and related things we forgot!) and connect you to resources to help you make music at home with your kids. Remember–you do not need any special music training in order to do these activities with your kids.  Go ahead and try them–it will be fun!  When this epidemic is in the past I hope you can join us for Music Mornings!

I‘ll be making more posts as they are ready, so please visit again! Please feel free to email me if you have questions or ideas to share! –Robin


Pulse (“Beat”) and Tempo (“Speed”)

  • Pulse is a steady beat.  It can be any speed, but if it’s steady (like a clock ticking) we call it a pulse. It’s the musical element that makes you tap your toe, bob your head, or otherwise experience the music with rhythmic movement. You really need to feel the pulse to dance!
  • Tempo measures how close together the beats are in time–how fast they go.  There are very slow tempos, very fast tempos, and everything in between.
  • Activities & games for enjoying pulse in music:
    • Depending on the speed of the pulse, pick a body part to move.  Hands & feet work well in a fast tempo, Head bobbing and almost anything else works well at medium speed (like clapping and being a dinosaur on the video), and you can move your whole body if the pulse is slow enough. (Like the pendulum or elephant on the video)
    • The time lag on our livestream video created a disconnect between what you see and what you hear when I was clapping and making other sounds.  I’m working on some pre-recorded videos with rhythm games for my students, and I’ll post them here when they are ready.
  • Here are the tunes used to demonstrate pulse and tempo in the livestream video recorded on March 28, 2020.
    • “Ain’t That Right”, performed by G. Love & Special Sauce, on Brushfire Records/Universal.  You can find it on Spotify, or here on YouTube (Warning: The first part of the song is fine, but later on there is some mild language you may not want to play in front of your child. Link to lyrics.)
    • “Final Waltz” from Act 2 of The Nutcracker, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, performed by the Berlin Philharmoic conducted by Sir Simon Rattle on Warner Classics. You can find it on Spotify or here on YouTube
  • Here are some other tunes that have really clear pulse, selected from various musical genres.
    • Brandenburg Concerto #6, by JS Bach, performed by the Netherlands Bach Society Here on Youtube You can see some of the musicians in this video bobbing their heads in time with the pulse!  One unusual aspect of the performance is that sometimes they intentionally slow down, it’s hard to find the pulse, and then it picks back up.  It could be fun to act this out, being droopy when the pulse dies down, then perking up when it comes back.
    • “Waving Sands”, performed by Simon Shaheen here on YouTube
    • “March” from Love for 3 Oranges, by Serge Prokifiev, performed by the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. This is a great tune, and the video shows good shots of which instrument you hear playing.  There are also some sudden variations of the pulse in this piece: near the end it suddenly slows down just a bit, then gradually speeds up. Here on Youtube
    • We’ll be back with other ideas later. (3-28-20)

Rhythm games

  • still working on getting rhythm games up for you! (3-28-20)

Musical Alphabet

  • Music notes are named after letters from the alphabet–A through G.  After you get to “G” you start over again with “A”. If you went to a piano, and found “A” on the left side of the keyboard (A is the white key furthest left on most pianos), then played toward the right on only white keys, you’d be playing   A B C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C D E F G etc. If you went from right to left you’d be playing C B A G F E D C B A C B A G F E D etc.
  • To download my PDF of the  Music Alphabet note cards follow the link, then select the image of the cards, then print or save to PFD.
  • The book where I got inspiration for these games is called “No H in Snake” by Michiko Yurko.
  • Some games to play with the musical alphabet cards
    • Print multiple sets of cards (or make your own!) Each set takes 2 pieces of paper. Use different colors of paper for each set, or find another way to distinguish each set.  Maybe pick a color of pencil, crayon or marker to outline the letters or otherwise distinguish the color for each set.
    • Lay the cards end-to-end to make a snake.  Spell the alphabet forward and backward. (Just a fun FYI: Standard pianos have over 7 octaves, or sets of A-G notes.)
    • Tricky variation: once the “snake” has been constructed, have your child hide their eyes while you switch 2 of the cards.  Then they can find and correct the mistake.
    • Put 2 or more sets of notes in a circle and recite the notes both clockwise and counterclockwise.
    • Variation: using 2 set of cards, alternate colors, then recite the alphabet using all one color–effectively skipping every other note.  This game is the foundation for learning the notes in chords. (Chords are often heard when a piano or guitar plays several notes at the same time)
    • There are more, so please visit later for updates! (3-28-20)