The rhythm’s gonna get you!

Have you ever thought about the fact that our bodies are naturally rhythmical?  Our hearts have beats. A rhythmic pulse is built right into the fabric of our beings.

What’s happening in our brains that makes us want to move to music?

The answer is, the process of making music, argued by Molnar-Szakacs and Overy (2006).  Conventional, non-digital music is made with physical vibrations, through various actions. For example, we move, the muscle of our vocal cords to sing, we shake our maracas, we hit our drum with a drumstick, etc.

These actions activate the pre-motor areas of our brain, specifically the MIRROR NEURON SYSTEM. Mirror neurons fire when we initiate certain actions AND when we see the behaviour performed by someone else.

So when we listen to music, our “audio-visual” mirror neurons are activated. They fire as if we are playing the instruments, and this general activation in pre-motor areas, triggers our desire to move and dance.

The existence of “audio-visual” mirror neurons indicates that, not only are we in-built dancers, we are also in-built musicians!

Of course, music also stimulates our emotions. It has the ability to make us feel happy, sad, soulful, joyful, excited, scared etc.  Getting up and moving, stimulates the oxygen supply to our brains and can also trigger the release of endorphins. This contributes to us feeling positive about the musical experience.

At Wriggle and Rhyme, we use music as a catalyst for learning and development.  Some of the ways that we do this, are by encouraging rhythmic movement, actions in our singing and dramatic expression.

Rhythmic movement

We actively encourage the children to feel the underlying rhythms in our music and move in time to them.  In the baby classes, this starts with the simple rhythm of a ticking clock.

Singing with actions

Often, the tendancy with little ones, is to think of adding actions to words, only in a way that reinforces the vocabulary of the song.  This can be very effective – for example, in a song like “Head, shoulders, knees and toes”.  By touching the head, when the word “head” is sung, there is an easy association made and the word is reinforced.

However, actions to songs can be much broader than that. By adding movement in the form of gentle exercise, we can also stimulate co-ordination, crossing the midline and so much more.

Pre-schoolers move to the music

Dramatic movement and expression

In our pre-school programmes, we give children the opportunity to express themselves in music – sometimes dramatically, sometimes emotionally. This kind of movement adds another layer of depth too.

But, whatever movement is stimulated, there’s no denying it …

Music makes us want to move

Whether it’s tapping a foot, swaying along to a rhythm or really getting our groove on, and dancing like no-one’s watching.

Come and join our musical adventure! Discover just how much fun it is to learn to the beat!


Kirsty Savides
This blog was written by Wriggle and Rhyme’s Founder and Programme Director, Kirsty Savides