How to Promote Literacy Through Music

Enjoy this article from contributor, Jude Young, about the great value of rhythmic training in the young.

Maria Kay has highlighted the integrated relationship between literacy and music in the earlier years and has suggested a few simple activities that will assist you in developing children’s skills.

Usha Goswami, a professor from Cambridge specialising in cognitive-developmental neuroscience, discovered that perceiving rhythm is important in association with literacy. She has dedicated her time and research specifically to do with children that are dyslexic.

In 2012, these findings were presented on BBC Four’s ‘Growing Children’. In this programme, she highlighted why rhythmic-language activities are important in preschool for supporting language development. These typically include songs, nursery rhymes, language games, clapping, stepping, large motor movements, and action rhymes.

Syllables And Rhythm: Great Assistants for Learning Language

Syllables And Rhythm: Great Assistants for Learning Language

Words are broken down into syllables, explained as “chunks of sound”. For instance, a word like “ex-am-ple” consists of 3 syllables. Being able to break words down using this method is one of the important skills children use to break up a word in a simple unit when spelling or reading. 

The rhythm in songs also reveals syllables in all the lyrics. Here is an example of a rhyme, “Can You Hear the Falling Rain”, and you will notice how syllables in each word are given a note. For example, “fal-ling”, maybe a single word but contains 2 syllables. It is also sung on 2 notes. 

Audio Specialist from Direct Appliance Rentals, Karina Wolfin says, “Assisting young children to recognise syllables by pointing them out in music happens to be an effective technique to help children break down a word. By adding in movements to point out the syllables provides even further emphasis. For this reason, playing instruments, dancing, clapping, and marching assists with embedding essential literacy skills.” 

Musical Activities: Making Learning More Enjoyable

Musical Activities: Making Learning More Enjoyable

Here is an example of a music activity:

Can You Hear The Falling Rain?

Can you hear the falling rain?

Listen here it comes again.

Down the river, down the lane,

Tapping on the windowpane.

To highlight the rhythm in the song use sticks (claves), tap a drum, or clap hands. When using an instrument like a drum you can change the sounds for the falling rain, flowing down the road, a window, or river. 

This is a simple rhyme that you can also use to discuss rain and the sounds that it makes on different surfaces or flowing into a river. You could also compare these sounds to water that comes out of a tap or the waves that crash onto the beach.

Syllable Activities

Here is an example of one of the activities used to identify syllables:

Holding a drum, give the children a beater, giving each child a turn. Ask each child a different question. For example, “What did you eat for breakfast?” Each child must reply by beating out syllables on your drum while they speak. One example of an answer would be “ce-re-al”, 3 beats (syllables), jam and toast, 3 beats (syllables). 

Children that do not know how to tap rhythms, often have difficulties with spelling. Even older kids often benefit from using a tapping technique to tap out rhythms present in words. This method breaks the words into more manageable and smaller units making it easier to spell and read. Being able to pay attention to sounds in words is very important to become proficient in literacy. 

———- Jude Young, contributing author to Alive Drumming.

Appreciate your songs more with Song Rhythm Tracks!

Whether you are learning a new tune, jamming, gigging or cutting your latest album, these tracks are what you need!

education, language skills, rhythm-training, youth Drumming Technique and Musicianship, Practice

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