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Counting Music with Beginners


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#1 semplice

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 20:34

What system of counting music do you use for absolute beginners? And why?

 

I use kodaly rhythm names because my local schools used to run kodaly based music programs so that was what my students were familiar with and I didn't like the idea of using a numerical system. However I am open to reconsidering .... what are the benefits of other systems? 

 

(Edited: I'm still following this discussion and have really enjoyed reading everyone's replies - thankyou!) 


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#2 Cyrilla

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 23:41

Kodály practitioner here - I've never, EVER 'counted' with students - work with pulse/rhythm differentiation and the use of rhythm names are far more effective.

 

Even within the use of rhythm names, however, there are arguments - for/against the takedimi system, for example. 

 

:)


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#3 semplice

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 00:04

 

Even within the use of rhythm names, however, there are arguments - for/against the takedimi system, for example. 

 

smile.png

 

I would love to hear more about this if you have the time smile.png


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#4 agricola

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 08:19

For young beginners I count as they play and I usually begin with individual note values, so I will count 1-2- for a minim regardless of where it is in the bar, then gradually change to counting through the bar.  About 50% pick this up easily and start to count out the time themselves very early on -- some 5-year-olds are able to do this without any prompting.  For those who struggle to play an even beat I get them to walk and tap out a rhythm as walking at a steady pace is something we can all do.  I prefer not to use a language-based system as I consider piano to be primarily driven by movement / gesture rather than a melody instrument.   


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#5 jenny

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 09:00

I find the Flip a Rhythm books really helpful, even though quavers are introduced right from the beginning. We tap together on the piano lid and all of my pupils love this. I have a 5 year old pupil who is able to tap out these rhythms really accurately when we use the words 'long' for the crotchets and 'short' for the quavers - so we say out loud rhythms such as 'long, short short, long, long'.  With others, I would mostly count out 1, 2 and 3,4 but will try anything that works, as long as they can feel the pulse and feel/hear the difference between the crotchets and quavers. 


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#6 ma non troppo

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 10:56

I count, much like the posters above. The only time I use words instead is when quavers are first introduced in combination with crotchets. Then I sometimes use "walk- walk- run-ning run-ning" .
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#7 Aquarelle

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 13:21

I use a variety of methods, most of which are like those mentioned above. It all depends on the child's age and ability to understand.  They do have to know about counting if they are doing written theory and it's then that you come up against children who don't understand fractions because they have only learnt the decimal system. This week I was teaching the fact that a quaver is half the value of a crotchet. Half an apple is smaller than a whole apple so the quavers will be smaller in length than  a whole crotchet - I said -  only to discover that the child thought two halves of an apple  were bigger than one whole apple! 

 

I find one of the best ways to teach counting is not to do so until they have a melody in their heads that includes the counting you are going to mention later. Christmas is a good time for that. My French pupils do usualy know "We wish you a merry Christmas" so that is good for meeting quavers and the dotted crotchet quaver crotchet rhythm so many find hard is easily felt and later counted if they know "Douce Nuit" (Silent Night)


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#8 mel2

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 13:52

Wow! That point about fractions meaning nothing to children reared on the decimal system had never occurred to me! I must take that into account from now on.
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#9 Dorcas

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 13:58

I suppose, for me, the consideration has always been the language spoken at home.  Some families are already familiar with Kodaly, others not and some struggle communicating directly with me in English.  Using a counting method, a metronome, recognition that lyrics and 'running' or 'walking' or caterpillar' are all valid ways of working out rhythms, seems to work.  If the counting method is clearly failing, then I will fall back on Kodaly if it is in the method book.  Adding a method not described or easily understood, well that can lead to a lot of confusion.  It is probably because I was not Kodaly taught myself.  I will use whichever method works with the student.


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#10 Aquarelle

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 22:01

Wow! That point about fractions meaning nothing to children reared on the decimal system had never occurred to me! I must take that into account from now on.

It first hit me when a child wrote in his theory book 0.5 to express the value of a quaver. Funnily enough this evening  I was working on dotted rhythms and he pupil couldn't grasp the fact that a dotted quaver is worth three semiquavers. In the course of the discussion we looked at a group of four semiquavers and the penny (or should I say centime? )dropped. "Oh," he said, " a dotted quaver is 0.75."


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#11 Cyrilla

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 23:36

Semplice - I don't know much about the takedimi system but there are many who love it - it seems fairly widespread in the USA.   I think that the 'ta' is always used for whatever falls on the beat - ta-di is the quaver subdivision and ta-ke-di-mi the semiquaver subdivision.

 

Sorry, but I spent 11 years of learning the piano with teachers who thought that the way to instil pulse in me was to say 'One and two and...' loudly.   I'm afraid this approach was unsuccessful.

 

I find rhythm names just so good.  I hate 'tea', 'coffee', 'caterpillar' etc. with a passion!   But it's the relating to the pulse which is the key to successful rhythm reading and understanding.

 

I rarely have children clap rhythms.   Clapping can be very, very unmusically-done (I love the Dalcroze way :wub:) - the rhythm names just totally keep focus and clarity and accuracy - particularly if the child performs the pulse in some way whilst speaking the rhythm names.

 

Knowing the theory doesn't help in the slightest with the actual performance of the rhythm.  So two quavers equal one crotchet?  Er…???    I could have told you, as a child, how many demisemiquavers were in a minim, but wouldn't have had the first clue as to how to accurately perform either of those rhythmic elements (OK, I was obviously a very slow learner rolleyes.gif.   But there are many others out there like me...).

 

:)


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#12 semplice

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Posted 07 December 2018 - 08:42

Thanks Cyrilla ... very helpful smile.png


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#13 Aquarelle

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Posted 07 December 2018 - 08:55

Cyrilla, you say that knowing the theory doesn't help with performing the rhythm. In my experience this isn't always the case. I am absolutely sure that the performance, the "feel" of the rhythm must come first and that the most important element is the pulse  because if that isn't felt the rhythm will never be correct.That's why I find  Piano Adventures so good because there are no subdivisions of the pulse for a very long time in this method. A lot of teachers criticize it for this but I think it's a good thing, particularly with children who have little musical background at home or school. It also leaves one free to introduce quavers with other material at the moment the teacher feels appropriate.

 

Where I find the theoretical approach becomes useful is when children want or need to know what it looks like on the page so that they can tackle the reading aspect. In that situation counting does help some (not all) of my pupils. The "Blitz Sight Reading " books have a lot of rhythmic exercises and some of my pupils just read them and "feel" it but others count. I find that the children who like to count and to understand the theory behind it all are often the intellectually curious ones  - the ones who are always asking "Why..." and "How...."


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#14 musicalmalc

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Posted 07 December 2018 - 09:27

Hmm - a quick check online says basic fractions should be covered in KS1 !


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#15 ten left thumbs

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Posted 07 December 2018 - 09:39

Hmm - a quick check online says basic fractions should be covered in KS1 !

"Should" is a really tricky word, to be used with great caution!


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