Babies Make Music!

babies make music

As several studies have shown, introducing a child to music and movement at an early age plays an integral role in things like language development, spatial intelligence, temporal skills, fine motor skills, coordination, and balance. Research indicates that music for very young children generates neural connections, enhancing higher brain functions that enable a child to reason.

In my 40 years of experience as an educator and clinician, percussion has been a key component of each session. Even for babies, playing percussion instruments is a natural, intuitively fun, and playful act that comes automatically as we sing, play, and dance. It’s instinctive for infants, tots, and young children to respond to music, and learning improves in all areas when movement and percussion are part of early childhood education. Beat is the foundation, rhythm comes next, and then melody falls on top of it all!

I have found group drumming to be an endless source of inspiration for my younger students, while also keeping my older students focus and engaged. Participating in group drumming ensembles helps them learn timing, coordination, form, phrasing, dynamics, tempo, and more! And the best part? Children can create their own rhythms and sounds to share their musical ideas with friends.

This is a great kids’ percussion activity for the song “Stormy Day” that you can use with a group drum or hand drum (lyrics below). The song has a similar rhythm and form to “Wheels on the Bus”, but a very different melody! Listen here for a sample of the melody.

  • Children sit on the floor with a drum directly in front of them.
  • Give each child a scarf to hide underneath their drum.
  • Keeping the drum on the floor, children play the drumhead as suggested in the lyrics for verses 1-5.
  • While singing verse 6, the children retrieve the scarf and use the color and movement to suggest a rainbow.
  • On verse 7, the children stand up with the drum and the scarf to dance and play about the room for the conclusion to “A Stormy Day.”


“A Stormy Day”

1. The rain on the window goes tap, tap, tap
Tap, tap, tap
Tap, tap, tap
The rain on the window goes tap, tap, tap
On a Stormy Day


2. The wipers on the cars go
Swish, swish, swish… (etc.)
On a Stormy Day


3. The wind in the trees goes
Whoo, whoo, whoo… (etc.)
On a Stormy Day


4. The hail on the roof goes
Thump, thump, thump… (etc.)
On a Stormy Day


5. The thunder in the clouds goes
Boom, boom, boom… (etc.)
On a Stormy Day


6. The rainbow in the sky goes
All around, all around, all around… (etc.)
On a Sunny Day


7. The children in the park all
Dance and play, dance and play, dance and play… (etc.)
On a Sunny Day


babies make music


My approach to teaching comes from the Orff-Schulwerk philosophy, a joyful and exciting experience for young children that focuses on singing, movement, and instrument playing, with a special focus on playing percussion. Imitation, experimentation, and personal expression are highly emphasized to help create an environment of “play” that feels comfortable and fun for students to participate in. In my lessons, the gathering drum is the perfect introduction for even my youngest participants!

Here’s what we know children experience and learn from our drumming activities:

  • Beat
  • Form
  • Phrasing
  • Dynamics
  • Tempo
  • Music Vocabulary
  • Expressive Qualities
  • Improvisation
  • Creativity
  • Rhythm
  • Chord Changes
  • Ostinatos
  • Gross Motor Skills
  • Fine Motor Skills
  • Ensemble (different parts played at the same time!)
  • Leadership/Self Confidence

I encourage you to find even more benefits and life lessons that children gain from early music education and percussion activities. The possibilities are endless!

Lynn Kleiner is an internationally recognized leader in music education, and the founder and director of Music Rhapsody. Lynn and her team of teachers provide music curriculum based on an “Orff approach” to thousands of students in schools, as well as in community and studio locations. For educational resources, teacher training, and more information, visit her website at

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