Typing this blog post was an act of rhythm. So was clicking on it to read it (thank you!)
Every movement we make requires rhythm-based coordination from a designated part of our brain's core. Language is rhythm. Play is rhythm. Music is rhythm. When I improve my rhythm, I make other areas of my life easier and more enjoyable.
Music is innately connected to many students' most challenging subject, math! In fact, I like to say that music is mathyou can feel.
In my playful, mindful music studio, pianists, vocalists and percussionists develop steady rhythm and an appreciation for the math of music. We may tap or move to the rhythm of a song before playing or singing it. We talk about rhythmic cycles, and how songs are divided into groups of beats.
Because of their strong foundation in rhythm, my students transition well to choir, orchestra, bell choir and other musical activities outside the studio, where they enjoy social connection as well as musical satisfaction. What most people don't know is that by helping to enhance the brain's rhythm system, we prepare it to create the most sophisticated rhythm of all: attentive stillness.
Get started on music math at home witha simple find-the-beat game you can play anywhere!
Have you ever been somewhere waiting in traffic or at the store--and a song came on that you’ve heard countless times? A song that you would just rather not hear again? What if one of your family’s ipads is playing a song for the umpteen thousandth time? What do you do?
I like to use my active listening to turn moments like this into mindfulness games. As I absorb the song through my sticky ears (songs get ‘in my head’ really easily), I might hunt for the following:
*Where is the beat? Finding the beat of the song and tapping it lightly on my chest (if I am hands free) can help me feel more calm and grounded.
* Are there any bits of silence between melodic or rhythmic sounds? What would it be like to listen for those, and maybe breathe deeply into them?
* What instruments am I hearing? Can I pay attention to an instrumental sound I have not noticed before? The easiest one for me is the bass because of its low, steadily placed sounds.
*If vocal, how often does the singer say a particular letter sound? This can be really fun because it activates the logic- and pattern- seeking part of my mind, which is different from the judge-y part that does not prefer the song. 😬
Thanks for reading! Send me an email to let me know: what is a song that gets stuck in your head?
Playful Mindful Music by Elisabeth Swim at Sounds Like Me Inc
I talk funny. Especially when it comes to learning, I use words that sound really strange to people who do not know me yet. For example, I do my best not to use the words hard and difficult: When I say something is difficult, I feel a little overwhelmed. I don’t feel motivated to do the thing. The task is, on some level, new. I haven’t done it enough times to make it feel easy. Maybe sometimes it feels easy, but I have not learned it so that it feels easy to do even when I’m tired, hungry or otherwise under extra stress.
When I call a task new instead of hard or challenging, my mind-body system gets ready for something exciting. I have an open-minded curiosity about how I will accomplish it. I am interested in how it might feel easier after I have done so and curious about what I might learn along the way.
Rather than calling things difficult or hard, I am committed to learning that every task and every activity is either easy or new. I train students to do the same.
If something is easy, I have learned it or mastered it. I may have done it or similar things many times before.
If it's new, I am still learning it. I might not yet feel like I have got it down. There is more learning to be done by rehearsing the task until it becomes easy.
NEW ↜------------------------------------------------------↝ EASY
When I encourage myself with energizing words like easy and new, I have more energy and clearer awareness of how to use my energy to reach my goals. Living life on a spectrum of learning makes it possible for me to be curious about my mistakes as I make them.
What feels new to you in life right now? What feels easy?
Send me an email to let me know.
Elisabeth C. Swim
Playful Mindful Music Guide