Music & Movement Locomotion & Syllables

When people use words or music the sounds made can make other people feel like moving in different ways.
This is because sounds can create movement patterns in the music. 

When they are Marching, Dancing and Rapping, people move from place to place.
Moving from one place to another is called locomotion.

Here are some ways people and animals can have locomotion:

They can walk.

They can go jogg-ing.

Some go runn-ing-fast-er.

Some take a step and then a hop. We call that skipping.

Horses move by gall-op-ing.

Kangaroos move with a long jump ( juu-mmp).

Syllables are small parts of words.
Words that stand alone have syllables. Words in a group have syllables.

Some syllables use letter sounds that sound Short.

cat     hop     run     pig

Some have letter sounds that can Stretch the word.

moo     how     spoon     food     jump

Movement Locomotion

Movements of locomotion can be given words or syllables to represent them.

Walk is a 1 syllable word.
Said evenly walk walk walk walk walk sounds like a pulse beat.

Repeating any 1 syllable word can make people want to walk. 

Words with 1 syllables

John     Paul     Anne     Sue     mat    bin

Jogg-ing is a 2 syllable word.

jogging is a movement that breaks a beat in half.
You can say jogg-ing in a way that gets you jogg-ing.

Words with syllables:

Pet-er     Mar-y     or-ange     lett-uce

Runn-ing-fast-er is a 4 syllable word group.

Runn-ing-fast-er is a movement that breaks a beat into 4 parts (quarter beats).

Words with syllables:

Al-ex-and-er     cat-er-pill-ar     ger-an-i-um

Exercise / Activity

  1. How many Syllables in your name?
  2. Make a list of words and number their Syllables.




  1      2

   1    2    3

1    2    3    4

French Time Names

The ‘NOT JUST NOISE’ Music Teaching Program uses movement words to teach reading and writing of long and short sounds. 
Many teachers use French time names instead.

These French time names use several versions of spelling that can be confusing to both see and hear.
It is the syllables that are important not the spelling or the language.








for 1 beat


ty ty

Taa Tay

for 2 half beat


t f t f

Tafa Tefe

for 4 quarter beat


ty-y f

No Word for 3/4 +1/4 given

3/4 + 1/4 of a beat


to to to

Tar Tay Tee

1/3 + 1/3 + 1/3 beats

juu - mmp



2 beats

The English words for the movements look longer than these easier French words but they are of equal sound length or duration when played or sung.

Musicians develop a Sound Memory from repeated hearings and Muscle Memory from repeated movement. These memories help musicians to play sound patterns in music.

Repeating ‘things to learn’ is called to practise.
Musicians keep a time on most days as a practice time.

If you find it hard to skip…Try this

  1. Stand by a table with your hands on the table.
  2. Stand on one foot and hop on it.
  3. Change feet which makes a step, then hop on that next foot.
  4. Change feet again and hop on the foot that made a step.
  5. Keep changing feet. Call the change STEP and say HOP when you hop.

Do it slowly at first and then do it faster.
When your feet have become used to the movement leave the table and STEP HOP around the room. You will be skipping.

If you find it hard to gallop…Try this

Think of your feet this way, one foot as a LEADING FOOT and one foot as a FOLLOWING FOOT.
On saying ‘GALL’ take a step with your LEADING FOOT.
On saying ‘OP’ lift your spare knee UP.
On saying ‘ING’ put your FOLLOWING LEG on the ground.
You are then ready to take a step with your leading foot again.


Leading foot STEP Following foot UP following foot DOWN.
Galloping is a bit like limping. One foot leads the other is behind.
Do it slowly at first then gradually try doing it faster.

Exercise / Activity

  1. Practise the movements.
    walk    jogging    running- faster    step-hop   galloping    jump
  2. Practise repeating the words for the movements.
  3. Practise saying and moving at the same time.
  4. Tap the movement words on a table with your fingers.
  5. Use other body parts to fit the movement. eg head, hips, shoulders.
  6. Make sounds that match the movement patterns on instruments.

Body Instrument: hands, feet, voice
Percussion Instrument: drum, box, shaker, triangle, tambourine.
Wind instrument: (Recorder,Tin Whistle,Whistle) or hum ‘hmmm’ into a Kazoo.
Tuned instrument: Keyboard, glockenspiel.

Use just one key at first. Try with more than one key. 
Make sure you keep repeating the movement pattern evenly.