While it seems obvious to us now, prior to the studies of psychologist Kate Hvener Mueller in the 1930’s, we had no scientific evidence to prove that the tempo of a song affected our emotions—more than any other element, in fact. Tempo affects athletic performance, too, and not just by making athletes faster. One 2012 study, conducted by C. J. Bacon and colleagues, shows that cyclists actually breath more efficiently when they pedal in time to a particular tempo.
Children learn best when we can engage many, if not all, of their senses. When our Kindermusik students dance around the studio to a fast song, waving scarves around, and hearing the rapid rhythm, they begin to intrinsically understand what a fast tempo is, even if they don’t have the words to describe it. Similarly, marching to a slow beat helps them understand, when they get older, exactly what legato might sound like on the piano. These concepts help them become fine musicians. But they also serve them in school, when they are called upon to walk in the halls or play basketball with their peers.
One of the best parts of Kindermusik, however, is that we can enjoy all the emotional benefits of these tempos with our little ones. If dancing helps us feel joy, then who better to dance with than our families? If swinging to a lullaby helps us calm and soothe, then it is a gift to experience this sense of relaxation together. Feeling these moods, in the safety of the Kindermusik studio with a caring adult, allows children to practice regulating a variety of emotions.