We adults may not even notice when our feet start to tap to a favorite song. And we are full of delight the first time a baby claps or rocks along to a song. Keeping a steady beat is a big, important deal for that baby, though!
A Steady Beat is the unchanging continuous pulse in music, just like your heartbeat or a clock. And children at all ages love to keep a beat – even if they are still too young to match an external beat, such as the beat of a song they are listening to.
As a newborn, a baby will recognize and be drawn to a beat because it is reminiscent of his or her mother’s heartbeat. Within a few months, Baby will do things like rock, clap, or kick to a steady beat. As motor skills improve, the child will soon be able to tap two toys or instruments together, tap a drum, and even run or jump to his or her own steady pulse. Finally, around the age of four, a child will begin to be able to match an external steady beat.
What’s the big deal with keeping a steady beat? Research has shown that a strong beat sense – the ability to keep a beat – is critical for gross motor skills like crawling, walking, or clapping, and cognitive skills involving reading, language, and speech. And, as a child gets older, a steady beat is found in activities such as using scissors, performing choreographed dances, and playing musical instruments.