Stories and thoughts from day to day life in the Bullard Family

Daily Rhythms and Musical Rhythms June 11, 2011

Filed under: Parenting — parentsong @ 10:35 am
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I wrote this when we were first learning about daily rhythms and young children. We were attending the Waldorf-inspired parenting group and Briony was about 8 months at the time. I think it is still relevant to us now, and perhaps even more so.

Rhythm is the component of music we are most familiar with by the time we are born. We are already exposed to the rhythm of our mother’s heartbeat, the rhythm of walking and maybe even dancing. Songs we learn are organized and structured through rhythm, which we can recognize by the time we are about 12 months old. Other components of music, such as melody, harmony, timbre, tempo and mode define characteristics of songs, but it is often the rhythm that we are immediately drawn to. Think of all the times you clapped along to a song you’ve never heard before. It was the steady rhythm, or the pulse, that made that possible. This gives us a sense of belonging and order even if the music is unfamiliar.

What does this have to do with the rhythm of daily life that we establish for our children? It is the sense of feeling at home in a comfortable place that rhythm provides for our young children as they learn to navigate the world. It is also what gives us that same feeling when we listen to music we can “groove with” and just be, no matter what our state of mind might be.

Imagine that the over-all rhythm of the week is the pulse, or what you would clap along to. Each night and day alternates: night, day, night, day. What happens in between does not matter as of yet, you are just learning the pulse. You can clap along and that is satisfying enough. As you become more familiar with the rhythm, you notice that day has more going on. There are little rhythms within that time. As you learn those rhythms, you are able to add increasingly complex sounds to the clapping. This becomes even more satisfying.

Now think of a song you know very well. The better you know the song, the more enjoyable it is to engage in the complexities of the music. Maybe something happens at a certain point of the song that excites you: a certain rhythmic pattern, a shift in meter, modulation or change in instrumentation. It could be a part of the song that stands out to you; the part you wait for every time you hear the song. It is always there to satisfy your anticipation. This is like the special moment of the day that the child anticipates. Whether it is a story before bedtime or a walk before lunch, it has its place that feels right. It is this rhythm, which you have brought your child into, that provides the safety and satisfaction to feel at home and in one’s place. It is rhythm that is the great organizer of the many facets of our life.

How do you honor the rhythm of life with your child?


4 Responses to “Daily Rhythms and Musical Rhythms”

  1. Kelly Gould Says:

    Do you still go to the Waldorf group? i’m interested to know if you two would consider Waldorf education for the kiddos. i used to coach at a Waldorf high school. Those kids were totally diff than the norm!!! I also liked that the teachers “looped” with the classes, but couldn’t really imagine being with the same group of students for eight years…

    • parentsong Says:

      We do still go to the Waldorf group! I love the basic philosophy for early childhood experiences (notice I shy away from using the word “education”). I love the simplicity and how organic it is. I think when it comes to education, it depends on the child. Waldorf education is the right thing for many children. I think one has to consider the learning style of the child. For me personally, I am interested in sending Briony to a Montessori school for grade school. We’ll see how she is when the time comes. Being with the same group of students through school can be boring, but it can also forge really strong friendships. I think when you are from a city that is hard to imagine. Small towns are kind of like that by default, so it is quite common I imagine. I’d like to hear more about your coaching experience, do share!

      • Kelly Gould Says:

        Well, for starters, we were working with girls who had been dissuaded from competitive thinking (or maybe it was never taught to them or something like that). So we had to disrupt the whole anthroposiphy(sp?) Steiner approach and manipulate them into bloodthirsty adrenaline pumping beasts of raw nature to have a chance to win the season. I love montessouri philosophy for childhood development. I would even encourage it into the middle school years-if you can find a program that goes that old! From what you’ve emailed me about B, I’d say Mont will provide her with exactly what she needs to flourish, as long as the teachers are trained well! i’m sure you and Nick will make the best choice for her. As for Noah, I have thrown the idea of home schooling out the window and down the street. Get this kid some social structure and QUICK!!!

  2. parentsong Says:

    Homeschooling has certainly been topic of interest here. That is still not off the table for us just yet, it depends on where we live and what kinds of schools are available. I hear you on the social structure, though! That is why I love the Waldorf program we attend so much because it sets standards for social behavior, unlike random playgroups (which are generally just a bunch of kids playing and doing whatever they want: eating, drinking, making a big mess and not having to clean it up). I mean, playgroups are nice, but they don’t necessarily teach “social skills” or help the child to learn to take social cues. Homeschooling would be tough in many ways. I would need someone else to do it with.

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