Happy New Year and welcome back to your friendly neighborhood Song of the Week!
Today we’re going to look at “Go Mommy”, but first we need to cover some music theory concepts. Sooooo get ready!
*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! Do know there are many different ways to define or classify the meter of a song, but here we’re just going to talk about the way we define things in Music Class. It’s based on the most intuitive thing for a little kid to feel.
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. Think robot. 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. Think swinging. You can count triple meter: “One two three, one two three.” Or you can chant “blue-ber-ry” over and over again while stepping and clapping and stuffing your mouth with blueberry cereal (JK). You’ll see on 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 exercise! Do you think triple is harder?
HOKAY 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? Of course, you do! 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 CRAZY MIXED METER SONGS IN MUSIC CLASS IF IT IS SO HARD FOR EVEN ADULTS TO GET RIGHT??" This is the best question. The reason we have complex mixed meter songs in every Music Class collection is BECAUSE it is so difficult for most adults to get right. The reason it is hard for us as adults is simply because it’s so unusual. We’re not used to the way this sounds or the way it feels. We don’t hear these rhythms often in our daily life, and most importantly, we didn’t hear these sounds when we were little.
And now, we have gotten to the crux of it all. We introduce these complex meters to children when they are little, so they won’t be difficult for them when they get big. For me, learning Chinese as an adult has been an insanely difficult task. But if I heard Chinese a bunch when I was a kid? Piece of cake. I’d be so dang good right now. Alas… this is not the case. BUT we have the power to do that for our kids. We can play and sing and dance to mixed meter songs with our kids now so they will be so dang good at all the rhythms when they get older. It’ll just make sense to them. It will be intuitive, instead of ridiculously weird feeling.
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. It’s sooooo cute. If you’re looking for New Year's resolutions… make 2020 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!)