Tempo and Rhythm – Let’s Jam!

Learn all about two of the components of music that keep it moving and grooving: tempo and rhythm.

All About Tempo

Tempo is the speed of music – how fast or slow the music is. Let’s learn about tempo.

Tempo Video

Babies through Middle School

Listen as Conductor Dan talks about two common tempos in music, andante and allegro. Clap along with him!

Tempo Activities

Preschool and Elementary School


Conductor Dan taught us about andante and allegro, now let’s learn about two more: moderato and presto. Here is a helpful way to imagine four different tempos as animal speeds.


Step One: Try acting each animal moves while you listen to these four pieces in this playlist:

Feel how each animal has a different tempo. The music is in order of slow to fast:

  • Andante: slow and steady like a turtle
  • Moderato: prancing around like a cat
  • Allegro: galloping like a horse
  • Presto: all-out like a cheeetah

Step Two: Once your child has a grasp of each tempo, write down each one on a slip of paper and put them in a pile. Create another pile of papers that have different movements on them. Take turns choosing a tempo card and a movement card and do that movement in the tempo you choose. Movements could include:

  • Walking/running
  • Tapping your head
  • Blinking your eyes
  • Shaking your head
  • Rubbing your belly

All About Rhythm

Rhythm in music is patterns of long and short notes combined together. Rhythm is what gives the music it’s groove. Rhythms can be simple- a song like Twinkle, Twinkle Litte Star has the same quarter note rhythm throughout the whole piece. Or rhythms can be complicated like The Rumble from West Side Story. Let’s learn about rhythm!

Rhythm Video

Babies through Middle School

Check out this video introducing two simple rhythms to kids in an easy way for them to understand. If your kid(s) enjoyed it, check out part two with additional rhythms.

Rhythm Activities

Preschool through Middle School

In the video, we learned about two different rhythm patterns using the words “beet” and “cherry.” Let’s take that yummy fun a little further with more fruit and veggie rhythm words.


  1. Say the name of each fruit and vegetable out loud. Clap out each syllable. For example, “beet” gets one clap, “lettuce” has two, and “watermelon” has four.
  2. Once you’ve practiced each word through, point to an image and have your child say and clap it. As soon as they finish that rhythm, point to another.
  3. Have your child draw out fruit and veggie patterns and then perform their rhythms for you. They’ll be composing the yummiest music you’ve ever heard.

Going Further:

  • Find other objects around your house to turn into rhythm words. Line them up in a row and say and clap their names and rhythm. For example, you could line up: Block – Crayon – Frying Pan – Tooth Brush. Let your kid get creative with the items they pick.
  • For a more advanced version for older children or those with previous musical knowledge, flip those steps around: give them a rhythm pattern and send them on a scavenger hunt to find items that match.
  • Older children or those with previous musical knowledge can create patterns and compose their own rhythm music using the note values instead of just the food name. Each of the images has its music notation symbol in the bottom corner.

Online Rhythm Composer

Preschool and Older

Get creative with our online rhythm composition activity to compose your own rhythm pieces at home.

Going Further

  1. Play along with your music as you play it back.
  2. Practice with the recording until you’re able to play it on your own.
  3. Give your piece a title and write words that go along with the rhythms.


Check out our playlist full of music that grooves thanks to its fun tempo and rhythms.

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