Not only do children like to make music (think drums and rhythm sticks) they also like to listen to music. They like it performed live or recorded. They like to listen to the same songs over and over and they like to hear new and novel music. For my family, the car was always the place where we listened to the most music. We sang along to the familiar selections (on our CD player) and experienced new musical numbers on the radio. Raffi’s “Bananaphone” was a car favorite….I still know all of the songs from that CD, in order!
So why is repetition important? Many adults like to listen to the same music over and over. It gets in our heads and into our hearts. Music reminds of times and experiences- it evokes emotions and memories. Music is the soundtrack of our lives. Children begin experiencing this in infancy (many would say they really begin experiencing this in the womb.) My own children were soothed by familiar music and showed signs of music recognition as early as a few weeks old.
Repetition in listening is one way that we can encourage music appreciation but we can also use repetition as a means of experiencing beats and tempos. When you clap 3 times and then ask the children to repeat what you did, they follow the number of beats (3) and the speed at which you clapped (tempo). This activity is great because very, very young children can participate, while you can make this much more complicated for older children. Older children also like to create the beats and the tempo while others follow them.