Teaching musicality to young beginners before certain technical skills isn’t taught very often. I find that certain musical elements like tempo, pulse, and accents get lost when teaching beginner piano or guitar students. Some teachers rather wait until they have some technique behind their skills before touching upon these musical elements. It’s definitely more of a challenge to find simple and concise ways to teach more conceptual aspects of playing music. However, I find that you can’t separate this from music, they are deeply connected and are most of the time the foundation to how a piece is being played.
The concept of a pulse in music is a tricky subject because it’s so conceptual. I find that it is role in music is similar to a heartbeat, it’s the underlining force that drives the music or keeps it alive. I get my students to listen to a piece of music and find the heartbeat of the song or have them play a heartbeat on the keyboard while I play a melody that follows their pulse. This also introduces skills of playing music with another person; they’re keeping the beat of the song while I play with them.
Learning about tempo can be a fun activity. You can get kids who have trouble sitting still to do movement to a piece of music. You can show kids how to feel a moderate tempo by having them walk around to the music, or if its fast, get them to run, or if it’s a low piece of music, they’ll walk very slowly. I find it’s easier to get kinds to feel these different tempos in movement first before translating it to an instrument. Then you can apply it to pieces they’ve already learned by getting them to play the piece at these different speeds.
With learning accents, I relate it to my creative rhythms exercises with language. I get my students to underline certain words in their rhyme which will be accented when speaking. I then get them to play these accents on their instrument while they recite the rhyme. There are so many different combinations that you can have with accents and its fun for students to take control of exploring where to put accents in certain places and how it changes the sound of the rhythm.