4/4 Meter

by Teresa Jennings

How many beats are there in a 4/4 bar? What type of note gets the beat? How does the time signature help us know this? These simple questions are answered in the lovely and lilting three-part partner song, "4/4 Meter."

What an excellent opportunity for you to focus on this musical topic. One of the first and most basic things kids need to learn when reading music is the time signature. Without it, we don't know much about the music at all! This song takes the concept into little pieces and puts them together in such a way that your students will remember how it all works.

Probably the trickiest part of the song is the fact that it's a three-part partner song. That means that the first part is sung independently the first time through. Then the second part sings the second time through, and the third part sings the third time through. The fourth time, all three parts join together in what turns out to be pretty neat harmony! They go on to do it again for a fifth time through, just for the fun and reinforcement of it all.

The good news is that none of the melodies are difficult, nor are they long. They are also slightly similar to other songs your students may already know. (No doubt you will make the connections right away if you are of a certain age...) That means that your students will be able to conquer this three-part tune without too much trouble and will feel really good about themselves when they do it. Once they have done so, consider letting them sing it a cappella. That way they can vary the form, the tempo, and/or the length.

As icing on the cake, the orchestration on the CD is also a three-way partner song among the instruments! However, their lines are totally independent of the vocal melodies, so it sort of turns into a six-way harmony when it all comes together! (Wow! Is that cool or what?) You can add a little listening study to your class by having students analyze what the instruments are doing. Which instruments are they? This would be best done by listening to the instrumental track (track 21).

So - your students get some part-singing experience and they learn about 4/4 meter and they have an instrumental listening lesson. All this in one song? What a deal!

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.