Heartbeat Rhythm - Music Theory for Beginner Violinists

Are you wanting to bring more music theory into lesson time and home practice for your beginner violinists, heartbeat rhythm is a great way to do just that! If you follow my blog you know that right now I'm on a huge music theory kick!  Here's a fun and easy idea that helps students develop a sense of beat and teaches how rhythm relates to the beat. I've done similar versions over the past decade but recently started using 'heartbeats' after seeing it done by a couple of online music colleagues. I have liked using the heartbeat because kids quickly latch onto the idea that the heartbeat stays steady and doesn't stop, just like their own heartbeat. 

Here's a short video of my (very soft spoken) daughter doing heartbeats as part of her daily practice. We will go over it a couple of times at their lesson so that they can practice it independently throughout the week. P.S. The cute book she is using in the demonstration is The Sassmannshaus Tradition Book. I did a full write up about this great beginner book. 

This music theory method can also be used if there are no words to the song. In the below example I show how you can also use the names of the notes or fingerings of the notes to sing the song while you tap out the beat. This way is actually double awesome because the student gets multiple aspects of music theory in one practice. They are tapping the beat, singing the rhythm, and naming the notes. 

We used 4 hearts in the example because the music was written in 4/4. If you're using it for music written in 3/4 draw 3 hears per line. 

If you'd like to see another demonstration of using heartbeats in teaching children music theory, check out this cute video. The heartbeat part starts around minute 17 but the whole thing is worth the watch.  Music with Lindsey is jam packed with music theory for little kids. My kids love watching her videos and I love what they are learning while they watch. 

Susan Paradis (whom I also love and use a ton of her stuff) has a great printable and blog post about using heartbeats. I like how she explains using the heartbeats to help the kids recognize and identify when there are two beats per heart. What a great way to introduce 8th notes to students!! 

It is so important for kids to have a great understanding of rhythm versus beat and to have a steady beat in their violin practice from the very beginning. Use this music theory method on a regular basis to help lay a strong foundation. It's also a great gateway for using a metronome later on.