Focusing on the Elements of Music | Tempo | Listen & Learn Music

This post is the third in a series all about utilizing the elements of music in music therapy sessions or music classes, check out the first two posts on rhythm and dynamics right here! The elements of music series will continue with a focus on tempo.

There are so many fun things about music therapy sessions or music classes, but I bet my kiddos would tell you that their favorite part of music is playing FAST. And you know what’s even better than that? Playing FASTER!!

There’s nothing quite like the joy on a child’s face when they hear me pick up the tempo, and I personally love the dramatically slow actions that accompany slow tempos. 

I’ve found that the best way to really highlight a particular element of music is by really exaggerating it and demonstrating the extremes to my clients and students; tempo is a great example of that! Children are really able to focus on tempo when we play as slow as we can and as fast as we can.

Some of the goals addressed in these songs:

  • Increase understanding of tempo
  • Improve auditory discrimination skills
  • Increase impulse control
  • Improve fine and gross motor skills

When introducing the concept of tempo, I like to pass out small percussion instruments to all of the participants. I usually start by explaining that tempo is the speed of the music, and ask them to play fast, and then to play slow.

Once they’ve practiced playing fast and slow, I encourage them to match my tempo. Usually I play several tempos to challenge my clients and students. Although it may take some time to prepare children, the preparation is almost as fun as the song itself!

When practicing tempo, I like to use the songs “Tap Dance” and “I Know A Song”. Both songs are similar in the respect that they are simple and repetitive and as the facilitator, you can choose how gradually or swiftly you want to speed up the song. 

Focusing on the Elements of Music | Tempo | Listen & Learn Music

Once we’ve gone just about as fast as we can, I like to gradually slow down the song as well until we get back to our beginning tempo or even slower. When children are able to slow back down, that extra practice allows them to really practice their impulse control skills, and slow down even more effectively. 

Tempo is more than just an element of music, it’s an important part of life! As adults, we often tell children to slow down, walk faster, or talk slower, but we have to demonstrate what that really means — and music is a motivating way to practice it!

Let me know in the comments below: how do you focus on tempo 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.

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