A Deep Dive Into Mixed Meter Rhythms for Kids!
Today we’re going to look at “Go Mommy”, but first we need to cover some music theory concepts. Here we go!
*LIST OF CAVEATS*
1. If you are not a "music person" – Don’t be intimidated. This is totally digestible.
2. If you are a "music person" – Don’t say, "Meeeeehh, I know this all already." I promise there will be interesting stuff for you too! There are many different ways to define or classify the meter of a song, but here we’re going to talk about the way we define things in Music Class. It’s based on the most intuitive way for little ones to feel the beat.
Ok, here we go (mommy)!
"Go Mommy" is a special kind of song because it’s written in a mixed meter. A mixed meter mixes two different kinds of meters, duple meter, and triple meter! So what are duple meter and triple meter?
Duple meter is when you can divide a beat equally into two parts. Think soldiers marching. Think up – down – up – down. Think square. Duple meter is THE most common meter of popular music. You can count duple meter: “One two, one two.” Here’s a video of us practicing at a teacher training in China. YES this looks silly, but it's a super-effective way to get the feeling of duple meter.
Triple meter is when you can divide a beat equally into three parts. Think waltz. Think rocking boats. Think twirling in circles. You can count triple meter: “One two three, one two three.” Or you can chant “blue-ber-ry.” You’ll see in this video some of the teachers are having a harder time with triple meter because it’s much less common, and people tend to be less comfortable with it. Pick up your baby and try the duple and triple exercises! Do you think triple is harder?
OKAY so now let’s mix the two together! You count “Go Mommy” by chanting: “One two three, one two three, one two, one two, one two!” Do you see how there are triple parts and duple parts in there? Please watch this video, dance with us, and laugh as I try to chant the numbers in Chinese.
What did you think? Possibly, "Why do we have these complex mixed meter songs in Music Class if it is so hard for even ADULTS to get right?" Mixed meter songs are difficult for so many adults simply because most of us didn't hear these rhythms when we were kids. We’re not used to the way mixed meter sounds or the way it feels, so it's almost like trying to sing along in a foreign language that we don't understand.
In Music Class we introduce mixed meters to children when they are little, so they won’t be difficult for them when they get big! Learning music is just like learning languages. Personally, trying to learn Chinese as an adult has been an insanely difficult task. But if I started as a kid? So much easier!!! We have the power to do that for our children, musically.
Do we expect kids to nail the mixed meters correctly now? NOPE! But the point is to practice now so they can nail it later. Please watch this amazing video of one of our students practicing “Go Mommy” at home and wait for the end to see her little sister join in too! If you’re looking for New Year's resolutions… make 2023 the year you practice mixed meter songs with your kids at home? (Oddly specific, but I hear specific resolutions are the ones that work best!) Enjoy!