Exploring Movement, Rhythm and Tempo

Music is the expression of the movement of the waters, the play of curves described by changing breezes. - Claude Debussy

City dwellers walk fast to the subway. Cars zip through traffic, stopping and starting in a coordinated ballet. Trains chug, airplanes zoom, tug boats bellow. Nomadic animals and people walk in tandem for miles at a time. We are constantly moving.

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Try creating a sound and movement to represent each of these images:

• Footsteps crunching on a snowy path.
• Helicopter blades chopping rhythmically through the air.
• Waves splashing against a rowboat in a repetitive pattern.

Rhythm is a pattern of sound that can be repeated. Tempo is the speed of the beat, in the range of slow to fast. A fast train or a slow train may use the same rhythm, but have different tempos.


Take a deep breath. 

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Try this activity using a familiar transportation or movement song...  

  • Choose a song like “Wheels on the Bus” or “Row Your Boat” and use familiar motions (or make up new ones) to match the rhythm. In addition to upper body movement, add marching feet and walk around the room.
  • Slow down or speed up your song and your movements. How does the tempo change if you’re a slow bus or a fast boat?
  • Expand the activity by imagining situations where your transportation mode would need to move fast or slow. For example - a boat sliding on the ice, or a bus stuck in the mud!