Thursday, February 13, 2014

Drum Games for Kids to Explore Tempo

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If you're looking for tempo games, then look no further than these two fun drum games for kids.

Below you will find two drum games that we like to do in our house. I originally wasn't going to post these ideas because they seemed so silly. But I also know that many parents struggle to come up with music activities for their kids.

Both of the games that I will be describing are an easy way to teach kids about tempo and the corresponding musical terms. No setup is required either.

Exploring tempo in music with drum games from And Next Comes L

Let's talk about the beautiful drum that you'll see pictured as part of these drum games for kids. My parents brought back this drum as a souvenir from their trip to Ireland last fall. What I like is that this drum has a nice handle on the backside, making it perfect for little ones to hold on to.

2 Simple Drum Games for Kids

Below you will find two of our favorite drum game activities for exploring tempo. One focuses on movement and the other on listening skills. Both of these activities would be great for self regulation purposes too.

For both games, you'll need a drum ready for banging. You will also need a metronome. If you don't have a metronome, you can use an online web-based one.

Game #1: Music and Movement Drum Game for Kids

The main idea with this game is to encourage movement. The kids will march to the tempo (or speed) of the drum. 

For this game, I tap out a steady beat on the drum while chanting a corresponding tempo description. For example, if I drum slowly, then I will say, "largo, largo, largo" or "slow, slow, slow" to the beat and the kids will march slowly around the room. Then I'll use "moderato" for a medium tempo, "allegro" for a fast tempo, and "presto" for a really fast tempo. I always start with largo, then gradually move up in tempo. After a few seconds of presto speed, I will suddenly shout, "stop!" and the boys will have to freeze in their current position.

This activity is really quite simple, but K absolutely loves it. He's not quite two and a half years old yet. However, he can already use the terms "largo" and "allegro" appropriately. All thanks to this game (and to maybe overhearing me use these terms in piano lessons over the years).

Marching and dancing to different speeds of drum beats is a great way to get the kids moving. Especially when the weather isn't cooperating outside.

Game #2: Metronome Drumming Game for Kids

We do this game with our metronome.  However, if you don't have one, then you can clap rhythms as an alternative.  The great thing about our metronome is that in addition to ticking out the beat, it has a red light that blinks to the beat.  So the boys can use the auditory and/or visual cues for determining the tempo.

To play this game, I pick a tempo on the metronome and encourage the boys to drum to the beat.  I gradually speed up the tempo so that they end up drumming faster and faster.  Again, if you don't own a metronome, then simply clap a beat with your hands and gradually speed up. Here's J drumming "moderato."

J drumming moderato from And Next Comes L

And here he was trying to keep up with a new drum beat of "presto" or fast. You can see how tense his neck and shoulders were as he tried to drum to the faster beat. He did a great job keeping up!

J drumming presto from And Next Comes L

As an alternative to this simple drum activity, the boys took turns with the metronome, picking their own speed. My youngest K particularly likes to do this version. He is in that wonderful I-do-everything-myself-mom phase after all. So he loves to do everything independently as possible right now.

Choosing a tempo to drum a beat to from And Next Comes L

Once he found the perfect tempo, he drummed away. Picking your own speed makes drum practice more fun, right?

K drumming from And Next Comes L

But all that dancing and drumming is tiring. Sometimes it's just better to lay on the floor and drum...I guess it's naptime after these drum games for kids.

K laying down and drumming from And Next Comes L

Other Great Drumming Activity Ideas You'll Love