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Abstract

A call-and-response drumming activity was carried out to determine the rhythmic characteristics of improvised patterns created by preschool children. Specific goals of the study were to: (1) determine the durations, start and stop times, and rhythmic patterns of improvised responses to a simple given call using drums; (2) determine the presence or absence of steady beat in improvised responses; and (3) describe the social factors that may affect the improvisational choices of young children. Six 4- and 5-year-old children participated in the activity over five weeks. Each week, the researcher played a four-beat rhythmic call and invited each student to individually play an improvised response within four beats. Results indicated that 86% of responses began on beat one immediately following the call, and 80% of responses ended on beat four. Seventy-nine percent of responses were four beats long. Eighty-four percent of improvised responses contained a steady beat. Students were either not able or did not wish to mimic the responses of other students, and very rarely repeated the call provided by the researcher. Results suggest that 4- and 5-year-old children are able to improvise both simple and complex rhythmic patterns on drums within specified guidelines.

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