THE BEGINNING OF MUSICAL ART 353
phrases.1 Children feel the rhythm when it is played with musical
expression, and often reproduce the rhythm not only with the foot
but with the arms and with movements of the whole body. Some-
times even the smallest children show rhythmic expression. Beppino,
about four years old, beats time with the index finger of his right
hand extended; the music (a song) has two alternating parts, one
legato and the other staccato. Beppino moves his hand with a
smooth motion for the legato, and with a jerky one for the staccato*
Four-year old Nannina, when following sweetly melodious
music, gracefully spreads out her wide skirt and throws her head
back smiling happily; then, at the sound of a military march she
stiffens up her body, assumes a grave expression and marches along
with a firm step.
To intervene with an opportune lesson for teaching some step
simply, or to improve some movement, gives the children pleasure.
In one class taken by Signorina Maccheroni, her small pupils
Eriminia, Grazdella, Peppinella, Sofia and Amelia embrace one
another and their teacher enthusiastically after having learnt some
movement in a rhythmic dance. Otello, Vincenzino and Teresa,
having had their steps and gestures improved by a lesson, thank
the mistress who has helped them.
Sometimes the children listen to music whilst they are seated
round the room watching their companions walking on the line;
they often beat time with their hands and reproduce it correctly.
Occasionally a child specializes as what we call a conductor.
Vincenzino, aged four and a half, used to stand with his two feet
together in the middle of the ellipse drawn on the floor (the line)
on which the children were walking, and beat time with his extended
arm, bending his body at the correct angle at every beat. He
lowered and raised his body in exact correspondence with the
period between the beats, and assumed an expression perfectly in
accord with that of the melody.
The exactitude with which the child succeeds in marking the
tempo of the beat, without anyone having taught him the divisions
* L. A. Benjamin, An Introduction to Music for Little Children.