Thursday, February 03, 2011

Helping Noah find the Beat

I vividly remember riding in the car with my grandmother when I was a toddler and listening to music on the car radio. While we listened and she drove, she taught me how to feel the beat of the music. And how to count it out. 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 

From there she taught me about rhythm -  4/4 and 2/4 and 3/4.  And how whole notes, half notes, and quarter notes combined to create the melody and the harmony.

A few years later she taught me to play the piano and was my teacher until high school, when she felt she had taught me everything she could, and she found someone more advanced to teach me.

I've always had an appreciation for music, and still find myself playing the "find the beat" game.

I'll still sit down at the piano occasionally and pick out a song, although I'm so far from the skill I had in high school and college. 

Because music was such a big part of my childhood (I not only played the piano, but I was also in the band and played the trombone) I always assumed it would be that way for my kids too. 

Learning how to play the piano is just not possible for Noah right now. He would never be able to sit through a lesson or be able to practice. And that's OK. If he wants to learn to play the piano or another instrument later on, I'll support that. I came to terms with that a long time ago.

And then in one of his early vision therapy appointments the therapist told me to start working on marching and clapping to the beat with Noah. Helping him find his inner beat and rhythm is important in helping his brain and body learn to regulate. The more I learned about the brain the more that made sense to me.

Because its been a part of me for so long, I never really thought about having to teach someone rhythm. I figured you had it (like me) or you didn't (like my husband). 

So now I'm working with Noah to help him find the beat. 

I feel a lot like I'm working with Willard from the movie Footloose.

I showed this to Noah and he was fascinated. So we spent an hour trying to find the beat. We clapped. I clapped his hands for him. We punched the Wavemaster. I punched the Wavemaster using his arms. We marched. We danced. We did funny dancing. I dug deep deep down inside myself and found my teenage self and let her out to dance. Noah was hysterical during some of it.

And then, we did the vision exercise that he's been refusing to try all week because it was too difficult (walking a line, but crossing over his left foot while his right arm swings over to the left side, and doing it to a beat). And tonight he rocked it!

It was fun. Finally something fun with Noah that is also about helping him. 

We are going to keep looking for that beat. I know he has it somewhere inside him!

If you have suggestions for music that has a good prominent beat leave them in the comments!



  1. I suggest looking for a used little electric portable piano that he can keep in his room. One that has the buttons to add various drum beats or rhythms. I think you can even buy "kid tough" ones at Toys R Us. The girls' grandparents gave them an old Yamaha they had laying around the house and we never did formal lessons (yet! still on the list of things to do) but they noodled around on it and lo and behold, we discovered that Grace inherited some of my grandmother's ability to play by ear. Give her 10 minutes and she can pick out the melody of songs she knows. You never know, Noah might discover his talent or passion, and then WANT lessons, but even if not, he can just use the drumbeat buttons to help "find his beat"! Laura

  2. My son's therapist uses Interactive Metronome with him. It's all about working on finding that beat. She uses a bunch of different Wii games too that work on the same thing - I'm not sure which ones though. It is amazing how much that has helped my son! Good luck to Noah:)

  3. Pata Pata by Miriam Makeba
    look on youtube, some versions are slower and more clear than others