This blog post is the second in a series all about utilizing the elements of music in music therapy sessions or music classes, check out the first post on rhythm right here. The elements of music series will continue with a focus on *drumroll please* DYNAMICS!!

One of the most challenging elements of music is dynamics. I have so many memories of practicing dynamic changes in chorus, and perfecting those special moments of going from the softest pianissimo to the loudest fortissimo. As adults, modulating our own volume can be a challenge, but when you’re a kid, it’s an even bigger challenge!

Between developing self-awareness and the impulse control it takes to maintain an expected volume, dynamics is a skill that requires practice. What better way to do that than in a fun and motivating setting like music therapy or music class?

Some of the goals addressed in these songs include:

  • Increase auditory discrimination skills
  • Increase ability to count up to 10
  • Encourage verbalization
  • Increase sustained attention
  • Increase impulse control
  • Improve fine motor skills

“Soft or Loud” is a great song to introduce the concept of using our voices at different volumes. This song requires impulse control, because children are asked to sustain either a soft or loud voice, which can be a challenge. For many children, sustaining a loud voice is pretty easy, but sustaining a quiet voice often takes practice.

Soft or Loud | Listen & Learn Music

If children are struggling to maintain a soft voice, I turn it into a game. I’ll prompt the children to use their softest voice, or practice a decrescendo, instructing children to go from their loudest voice to their softest voice. 

To practice dynamics, I encourage participants to brainstorm everyday situations, and what volume of voice they should use, and then incorporate those volumes into the song. Another great tune for practicing this skill is Say Something (Loudly & Quietly). Talk about generalizing a skill in a practical and fun way!

Say Something (Loudly & Quietly) | Listen & Learn Music

 Modulating our voices is a challenging skill, but modulating our bodies to play in various volumes is another task all together. That’s where “When the Saints Go Marching In” comes in. It is a piggy-back song on the traditional song, but instead it’s all about playing different dynamics on the drum. 

Playing in different dynamics always requires impulse control, but especially when playing drums. Fortunately, one of the beautiful things about music is it’s natural repetition, which allows many opportunities to practice dynamics and impulse control.

When the Saints Go Marching In | Listen & Learn Music

Dynamics are such an essential aspect of music, but also an integral part of life. Focusing on dynamics in our music therapy sessions and music classes can help us teach children how to modulate their own volume. With these two songs, focusing on the difficult concept of dynamics can be made fun and easy!

Let me know in the comments below: how do you emphasize dynamics in your sessions or classes?

You can listen to all of these songs in their entirety right here. Lyrics, chords, mp3s, and instrumental tracks for these original songs are available for download. As is the case for all Listen & Learn Music creations, we invite you to adapt these songs as needed to best serve your students and/or clients.