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.



♫    Pianissimo—pp—very soft
♫    Piano—
♫    Mezzo-piano—
mp—medium soft
♫    Mezzo-forte—
mf—medium loud
♫    Forte—
♫    Fortissimo—
ff—very loud


Wikipedia lists
Are You Sleeping in 57 languages at http://en.wikipedia.

Here are a few favorites:

Are you sleeping, Are you sleeping, Brother John, Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing, Ding-ding-dong, Ding-ding-dong!

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques, Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?
Sonnez les matines! Sonnez les matines! Ding, dang, dong, Ding, dang, dong.

Bruder Jakob, Bruder Jakob, Schläfst du noch? Schläfst du noch?
Hörst du nicht die Glocken, Hörst du nicht die Glocken?
Ding, dang, dong, Ding, dang, dong.

¡Fray Felipe!¡Fray Felipe! ¿Duermes tú? ¿Duermes tú?
Suenan las campanas, Suenan las campanas. ¡Ding, dang, dong! ¡Ding, dang, dong!

Eh Yakobo, Eh Yakobo, Walala? Walala?
Amka twende shule, Amka twende shule, Haya njoo, Haya njoo.


©2009 by Marcia K. Washburn. For reprint permission write to
Teaching Musical Dynamics
For more articles, see Articles and Marcia's Mall.                   Please feel free to contact me at marcia@marciawashburn.com
"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.