10 Christmas songs that train your child’s brain
Saturday, 24 November, 2012 12:11
CandleIt’s beginning to look a lot like that time of the year again. On the surface, Christmas may hold different meanings to different people, but behind the differences a few undisputed core values emerge: family and the loved ones. Gifts, Christmas cards and joint celebrations all promote love and togetherness. Most of all, Christmas is a time for children: after all, Christmas started from celebrating the birth of a child. 

Many of the most popular Christmas carols feature rhythm concepts that are otherwise not as commonly found in Western music. New research shows that there is not a better way to train a small child’s brain than to help them clap along to different rhythm concepts. Here’s just a few key findings of recent research:

– the better your child is at handclapping songs before starting school, the more they will succeed academically from the start (2011 study from Ben Gurion University in Israel, click here for link)

– whether your child is at school yet or not, once they engage in handclapping training, their memory, handwriting and motor coordination improves (as above, click here for link)

– children who learn different rhythm concepts succeed 50% better in maths tests than children who are taught the traditional pen-and-paper way. Learning through music helped improve especially those pupils’ maths skills who were previously low achieving in mathematics (2012 study from San Francisco University, click here for link)

You can easily encourage your child to clap along to the 3/4 time signature or dance along to the shuffle beat of popular Christmas music. It’s fun, so your child won’t even realize they’re training for academic success! A win-win for the whole family.

Most songs and compositions in the Western tradition, whether classical, popular or jazz, center around the 4/4 beat (ie it’s based on the repeated counting of one-two-three-four). 4/4 beat is the standard beat that most everyone, with or without music training, will have gotten accustomed to just by living in a Western country, whether England, United Stated, Finland or Australia. Music scholars such as Edwin E. Gordon have criticized this one-sided musical diet that is fed to most children. Children simply do not hear enough of alternative time signatures.

But Christmas songs make an exception. A wide range of popular Christmas carols have the 3/4 time signature, colloquially known as the ‘waltz beat’, where you count one-two-three, one-two-three… Thus, Christmas with its omnipresent carols are arguably the easiest way to introduce your child to the 3/4 time signature and teach them to clap its beat, if you haven’t done this already. 

The shuffle beat is also present in many Christmas songs — especially in the tradition of Christmas hit songs in popular music. The shuffle beat is where each individual beat (each one of the countings of ‘one’, two’ three’ in 3/4 time and ‘one’, two’, ‘three’ and ‘four’ in 4/4 time is a beat) divides into three instead of two.

Here’s 10 songs to teach your child these two different rhythm concepts. You can start with picking just one song from each list and clapping along with your child. It is that simple!


Five of the most popular Christmas songs in the 3/4 beat:

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Silent night

O Christmas Tree

O Holy Night

Happy Christmas (War is Over) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono


Five popular Christmas songs in 4/4 shuffle time (note that this is not the typical 4/4 time but 4/4 shuffle):

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Frosty the Snowman

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

All I Want For Christmas Is You — recorded by Mariah Carey and others

Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney


To ensure your child’s learning success after Christmas, why not let Santa bring them their own Moosicology Package. Moosicology features many songs in both 3/4 time and shuffle time, as well as stories, instructions, colourful pictures and charming characters that help your child grasp all these different rhythm concepts so crucial for making the most of your child’s inherent potential!

Let your child shine bright like a Christmas candle! Merry Christmas from the Moosicology family.


Written on 18 November, 2023 10:43 by Moosicology
Written on 20 February, 2014 02:01 by Moosicology
Written on 03 December, 2013 12:13 by Liisa Henriksson-Macaulay
Written on 18 January, 2013 12:11 by Liisa Henriksson-Macaulay
Written on 24 November, 2012 12:11 by Liisa Henriksson-Macaulay