The rhythm game: a musical activity for when you’re stuck in traffic!

Road work and traffic jams are always a pain! Most mornings and evenings, they considerably increase the time we spend in the car. If you have your kids with you, and you need a way to keep them entertained, here’s a little game that will help you through the boredom while testing your family’s sense of rhythm.

On the wheel of your vehicle, tap out a rhythmic sequence and ask your child to reproduce it exactly the way you did it. To make it harder, add some sounds with your mouth (syllables, tongue clicks) or vary the tempo (slower or faster). Children love this type of game. In addition to being fun, the game has the advantage of enhancing their auditory perception.

Because your children are sitting in the back, they won’t be able to see your movements and will have to concentrate solely on what they can hear in order to imitate you. Auditory attention is critical, not only for the development of musical skills, but also language skills, since music and speech have many points in common from an acoustic and cognitive standpoint. This fact was highlighted in the work of Kraus and Chandrasekaran of Northwestern University in 2010. So, the next time you find yourself in a traffic jam, take a deep breath, warm up your hands and your tongue and make musical imitation the new parent-child in-car activity! 

Kraus, N. et Chandrasekaran, B. (2010). Music training for the development of auditory skills. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 11(8), 599–605. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn2882

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