How to Teach Dynamics in Music to Kids

Updated May 25, 2017

Teaching children about music can be a multi-sensory and fun experience for them, and lessons can be easily tailored to incorporate the many aspects of music, such as dynamics, which refer to how loud or soft a musical passage should be played. Instead of just explaining what dynamics are and teaching the different symbols and abbreviations, including hands-on activities that demonstrate how dynamics are used or achieved in music will not only contribute to a lesson, they can also enhance students' knowledge and appreciation of music as well.

Teach the symbols for dynamics to your class. Explain what each one means. The letter "p" is for piano, which means soft, and "f" is for forte, which means loud. You can also introduce "mf" for mezzo forte (medium loud) and "mp" for mezzo piano (medium soft). More advanced students can also learn "pp" for pianissimo, or really soft, and "ff" for fortissimo, or very loud.

Listen to some classical works with varying dynamics. Give each student a set of flashcards with the dynamics symbols written on them. Have students hold up the flash card for the dynamic they think they are hearing in the music.

Play the conductor game. Hand out rhythm instruments to each child, and have one student be the conductor. The "conductor" raises and lowers his arms to indicate to the rest of the students to play loudly or softly, respectively.

Hold up a flashcard of a dynamic marking and ask your students to play the rhythm instruments at the dynamic level shown on the card.

Show the markings for crescendos -- gradually getting louder -- and decrescendos, or diminuendos, which mean to gradually get softer. Play crescendos and diminuendos on drums by gradually getting louder or softer.

Things You'll Need

  • Flashcards
  • Rhythm instruments
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About the Author

Cara Batema is a musician, teacher and writer who specializes in early childhood, special needs and psychology. Since 2010, Batema has been an active writer in the fields of education, parenting, science and health. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and creative writing.