You Got Rhythm?

I was teaching a little 8 year old girl yesterday. She was singing "Doe a Deer" from The Sound of Music. This beautiful little girl is autistic and loves music. She has a very pretty voice and always sings in tune. I was looking for a way to bring energy to her sound and to get her to sing with greater emotion. How to do this?

Then I had an idea. What if I put a rhythm track on while she was singing? Immediately her body responded to this and and she projected her voice. There was fire in her eyes. She was moving. I changed the rhythm accompaniment style from pop ballad to salsa, meringue, disco, rhythm and blues. I asked her to clap the beat and no matter what I put on, she clapped. Then she really blew me away.

She started clapping syncopated rhythms within the beat. In other words, rather than just feeling the pulse of the music, she actually added rhythm accompaniment of her own that went precisely with the beat. Truly astonishing for an 8 year old. This autistic 8 year old girl was so amazing.

If you have an electronic keyboard with rhythm accompaniment, try clapping the beat to various rhythms. Change the tempos. Walk to the beat. Wave your arms. Tap a book. Get that rhythm inside you.