is there a way to teach people to have a sense of rhythm ? i've started working with a vocalist with a beautiful voice but no ability to feel a beat - i have to stretch and morph the rhythm to the out of time vocals.
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in some cases it's seems it is not possible. they have to somehow get with the beat through their own efforts.
the problem is usually convincing vocalists that time is a consideration... that it is important.  it is the same with all begining students.  the difference is that begining students have come to you to learn so they listen to you.  so the challenge with a vocalist is always to convince them that you know something that they need to know.  no small challenge.  but until you jump that hurdle your efforts are futile.
"studies have shown that newborns do have a sense of rhythm. some people have a better developed innate sense of rhythm than others. some steps for improving your rhythm involve stepping and clapping the beat in music."
"if it's accurate to say that all folks are born with rhythm, then i 'd say it's equally accurate to say that many have misplaced their portion.  

the song remains the same: folks that have instinctive rhythm can hear a james brown tune, a cajun tune, a samba or a bossa, and nobody will ever have to instruct them as to up and down strokes, or ghost strokes - they hear it, they feel it, they play it.

the fact that rhythm is one of the most difficult things to teach academically is precisely the reason why i'm such a hard core believer that standard musical notation is the one true educational standard, other than for those that just feel it naturally. i work with youngsters that i've brought up through study of time signatures and rests and pickup notes and syncopation, and they soak up new rhythmic concepts like sponges. i try to work with adults that have no time for such backtracking, and it's like trying to navigate saturn's moons. "
teaching children to keep the beat:

provide children with rhythm instruments and explain that they will use their instruments to tap out the beats of words and names. using one of the instruments, demonstrate how to tap out the beats to "hel-lo chil-dren!" now invite them to do the same. ask them to use their instruments while saying hello to each member of the class. which child has the most beats in his first name? which child has the most beats in her entire name?  

keep the beat and rhyme  

invite children to choose a favorite classroom rhyme or poem. then, ask them to use their instruments to tap out the beat as they recite the rhyme. repeat the activity several times so they can practice and listen to the rhythm of the rhyme.  

keep the beat and sing  

provide each child with an instrument to play while they sing a favorite classroom song. now invite half the group to sing while the other half accompanies them on the instruments. take turns so that each group has a chance to sing and play music.  

classroom orchestra  

choose two recorded musical selections for children to accompany with their instruments. select one fast and one slow composition. after they have played along with each piece, engage the children in a discussion. encourage them to explain the difference between each selection.  

curriculum connection: movement  

dance to the music. divide children into two separate groups. explain that one group will play instruments to recorded music while the other group dances. take turns so each group has an opportunity to dance and play instruments.
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