In music, a downbeat is the first beat of the bar. According to Wikipedia, this term originated from orchestral conducting, where the lowest point on the baton signals the first beat in a given measure.
A downbeat is now used widely throughout music to also indicate the beginning of a piece of music. It is an important term to know and a great concept to include in your kids' music class curriculum in whatever way you can.
As we mentioned in some of our earlier blog posts, when we think of a kids music class we don't always think about musical instruments and popular kids' songs, we think music theory and how can we incorporate elements of it into our classes without it being too technical.
During our rain theme, Tiva made a cute little raindrop sack which we wanted to find a use for in our music curriculum. We played around with passing the sack back and forth while trying to come up with a nice simple song or rhyme to complement our lesson on downbeats. At the end of it all, we just ended up adding a little melodic structure to the word raindrop while passing the sack back and forth creating a fun and simple downbeat partner play activity.
The focus of this activity is to familiarize students with the meaning of the musical term downbeat. Using the raindrop sack we made, students will be partnered up and encouraged to pass the sack back and forth while singing the word raindrop in a particular melodic structure. They will pass the sack in time with the phrasing of the song, stressing the downbeats as they go along.
How did it go?
A little explanation was needed at first, but our students managed as well as they could have with this one. It became a bit confusing when we switched up the downbeat play, which you will see in our video. Nonetheless, they tried their hardest to continue with as much enthusiasm as they began. This activity needed a lot of repetition and definitely flowed smoother with our older students. Either way, it was a great introductory activity for our students of all ages and is one that is versatile enough to be used and adapted time and time again for many different themes.
One suggestion we have to make things flow a bit smoother is to take the time to explain the activity to your students before and possibly during. They may not grasp the downbeat aspect of it right away so you will have to repeat it while explaining it just to reinforce the concept and how it comes into play. If your students manage to grasp the concept quickly, then you can definitely challenge them by playing around with the speed.
Take a look!
If you are on the hunt for a new music theory based activity, then we'd recommend watching our video. You will see how much fun we had with this activity and you will be able to learn the melodic structure used to teach this lesson. In the video the downbeat text will be underlined, making for easier understanding for our viewers.
Get Down With Some Downbeats,
Tiva & Randa