Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Beat Competence: A natural ability or a learned skill? (post No.1)

Beat Competence
So...beat seems like such a natural thing, yet some kids/people just don't have it.  They just can't keep a beat. 

You know those kids...they seem to be happy, energetic, love to sing, enthusiastic, throw themselves into whatever musical expression they love and they just can NOT keep a beat.  

I feel it is spectacular!  Almost unbelievably spectacular!  wow...
I have trouble trying to intentionally NOT keep a beat and they can't keep a beat to save their lives.  

The Download
I've had students like this.  What I notice about the kids who have difficulty keeping a beat is that they usually did not attend baby music classes, not mine or any music classes. 

Those first 2 years seem to be the natural developmental period when beat competence is "downloaded" and "installed" in the body and they missed out.

Of course, there are children with obvious developmental, cognitive or physical challenges and while some of them are beat competent, we do not have the expectation they will be beat competent.  Those are not the children I am thinking of here.

Benefits of beat competence
I spent the first year of public school teaching as a learning assistance teacher.  I worked with kids (K- Gr.10) who couldn't read, couldn't do math, couldn't print, couldn't spell.

What I noticed (because I was also a music teacher) was that these kids all seemed to struggle with keeping a beat as well.

When compared to kids who ARE beat competent, kids who have trouble keeping the beat also seem to have challenges with:
  • learning to work the scissors, 
  • holding a pencil, 
  • learning to print/handwrite, 
  • skip with a skipping rope, 
  • move through the space without smashing into other people and 
  • some have trouble learning to read books.
If you are interested in beat competence from a practical perspective 
  • can it be nurtured? 
  • or is it one of those things handed out at birth?
then stay tuned because I'm going to write a few posts about this very topic. 

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