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a parent is holding a child's hands to help show them how to play a drum

Activity #1 – Move to the Beat

 It also emphasizes learning to follow directions, starting and stopping at an appropriate signal, and improving auditory processing.


Drum or drum substitute (e.g: upside-down bowl or cooking pot)

Before Playing:

  • Find an open, familiar space in which child can safely move about.
  • Clear the area of any obstacles

How to Play:

  • Have the child stand in the open space.
  • Give the direction to walk when the drum says “walk” and stop when the drum says “stop.”
  • Play a simple beat on a drum and have the child walk until the drumbeat stops.
  • Observe the child’s normal walking pace to determine the appropriate tempo. Provide enough space to avoid bumping.
  • Child can take turns being the drummer.


  • Add verbal directions to walk and stop at first but withdraw them as soon as possible so that the drum provides all auditory cues.
  • Use fast taps as the cue for running.
  • A tap on the rim provides a different sound, which can be a cue to walk backwards.

Activity 2 – Echo Playing

Music is an excellent tool for teaching children to follow directions and work on listening skills. Additionally, this activity works to improve auditory processing, short-term memory, and a sense of rhythm.


One or two drums or drum substitutes (e.g: upside-down bowl or cooking pot)

How to Play:

  • Child and parent each have drums or share one drum.
  • The direction is given to listen and then do the same drumming pattern.
  • Play a four-beat rhythm pattern, such as “One, two, buckle my shoe” and have the child repeat that pattern.
  • Play another pattern and have the child repeat it.
  • Let the child take turns playing patterns for the parent to repeat.


  • Use other instruments, such as rhythm sticks or wood blocks.
  • Vary dynamics. The child can do the same or opposite dynamic. (e.g: “If I play loudly, you play softly.”)
  • For more advanced students, extend the rhythm pattern beyond four beats.
  • Hints: Adding words that fit the rhythm pattern (“One, two, buckle my shoe”) can help students who have a weaker sense of rhythm. Also, waiting and listening before playing is more difficult than playing a steady beat or rhythm pattern with the parent. Echo playing can be preceded by echo singing, or hand-over-hand assistance can be used.