Dynamic markings are the means composers use to communicate how loud the music should be played or sung. We use Italian terms because the concept of writing music as we know it today was developed in Italy.
Choose a song you know well, such as Are You Sleeping, Brother John to teach the concept of dynamics in music. Make signs with cartoon figures demonstrating words such as pianissimo or mezzo-forte; the figure’s mouth is open wide for fortissimo, showing that it means very loud, for example.
As one child holds up a sign, everyone in the family must sing the song at that dynamic level. Young children love the feeling of power that this brings, especially if they get to change the volume part way through the song.
A second game helps children to develop volume control. For this game, hide a small object while one child is out of the room. The family helps him find it by singing Are You Sleeping louder when he is close to it and softer when he is further away. For variety, sing it in different languages (see below) or have a child who plays an instrument play softer and louder as the seeker gets farther or closer to the hidden object. This helps to build control of the instrument.
Carry the learning over into daily life as you remind your children that their inside voices should be mezzo-piano (medium soft) and to reserve their forte (loud) voices for outdoors.
"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established." Proverbs 24:3 (NIV)
The following games are resources for music teachers, homeschoolers, and all music lovers and may be freely copied. They are designed to complement Marcia Washburn's newly-released book, Talent to Treasure: Building a Profitable Music Teaching Business. Please go to Marcia's Mall for further information about Talent to Treasure.