Teaching young children is a humbling experience, namely because young children have no qualms in telling you how well or how badly you are doing.  It is even more challenging when you are attempting to teach them a concept that is unfamiliar to them such as musical elements like tempo, dynamics and pitch.

Here are 5 tips on teaching young children under 5 the concept of Dynamics (soft and loud)

  • Demomstrate loud and soft using body.                                                                           Choose a song with contrasting loud and soft sections, when the music is loud have the children stand up high on tipped toes.  I usually have them hold an egg shakers and reach up high and shake their shakers.  When the music changes to soft have the children crouch down low to the ground.  Songs I have used are Giggle and Hoots: The Gigglearium Loud song, it’s short and sweet and has obvious contrasting sections
  •  Movement to music that has contrasting dynamics.                                                   Classical music is ideal for a movement game.  Using scarves or ribbons play a contrasting AB form piece of music and have the children “feel” the dynamics of the music by demonstrating different movements to the change in dynamics.  For example, Tippee toes for soft and marching for loud.
  • Use instruments to play loud and soft.                                                                              Sing a song with loud and soft parts.  Demonstrate to the children little finger (soft) and Big hand (wide open palms for loud).  This technique is great for under 2 year olds as they can’t participate with singing but can feel the difference in dynamics by using their hands.  I have an example here
  • Sing.                                                                                                                                          Sing a familiar song so the the children join you, sing in a a teeny tiny whisper sound like a mouse and repeat the song using your Big Loud lion voice.  relating the different dynamic changes by referring to animals is always an effective way to encourage children to participate and feel the dynamic difference
  • Use the musical terms.                                                                                                                I always introduce the musical terms for soft and loud which are piano and forte and as we progress through the year children start recognising the dynamic changes and using the correct terminonlogy.  By using piano and forte we as educators are expanding their vocabulary and preparing them for future music classes by introducing them to the language of music.

As usual when teaching a young class, always keep it fun and light as it will be more conducive for young children to be inspired to learn music and pursue an instrument in their future.