My New Year’s Resolution: Large Body Activities

My second New Year’s resolution is to make large body activities a part of every lesson for every student.  I have come to realize that no matter the age or level of the student, pre-college students in general have a difficult time really feeling the pulse with their whole bodies.

When I was in college, I had a violin teacher who was adamant that the pulse governed the whole piece.  I can’t count how many times I had to bounce my knees to the pulse while playing a complicated piece on the violin.  She’d call out, “Ride the pulse!”  If you have ever played the violin you know that bouncing up and down while playing is no small feat, and most of the time I felt incredibly silly.  It was not until my senior year that something finally clicked.  I was able to feel that the whole piece was governed by the large pulse and it was a freeing experience to feel the pulse so completely internally.


Many of our students do not feel the pulse with their whole selves, even if they play rhythmically correctly.  My inclination is to do many swinging, swaying, and large body activities with younger students.  And I don’t want to imply that this is not important.  In fact, it is CRUCIAL in getting that initial pulse established.  But, the reality is that many students need far more experiences with the large pulse than they get in the elementary years.  Furthermore, these experiences must continue beyond the elementary years; even advanced students have need to practice feeling the pulse with large body movements.


My goal is for every student to experience pulse with large body movements in every lesson this year.  I want my students to “Ride the pulse!”

2 thoughts on “My New Year’s Resolution: Large Body Activities

  1. I believe that large-body activities can be so useful at every level. One instance when I have found this kind of activity to be essential is when students study repertoire requiring a switch from triplet to eighth note subdivisions.

  2. I think that this article is pretty helpful in my piano pedagogy class. Teaching a child the accurate method of counting rhythm is very important. There are so many kinds of teaching children the pulse of music, and choosing the most efficient one is really difficult.

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