Music Education - Dalcroze Eurhythmics

Emile Jaques-Dalcroze was a musician and educator who created Dalcroze Eurhythmics, a method of music education that focuses on experience through movement. He was born in Vienna in 1865 but later moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where his method of teaching became known as exceptional for fostering both the mind and body of the student.

Because Jaques-Dalcroze's mother was a music teacher, he was exposed to music education from a very young age. Beginning to teach himself, he noticed a disconnection between the body and music-making in his students. He questioned why music theory and notation were taught dissociated from sound and the movements and feelings that they represented. Dalcroze was very interested in the psychomotor aspect of the human being: he believed that a person must be comfortable in their body to feel every aspect of music throughout every part of their being, noticing that when a person was struggling mentally, it was often correlated with that person's inability to react to musical rhythm. His method of eurhythmics is exceptional in that it focuses on building the whole person as well as their musicality.

Dalcroze Eurhythmics teaches rhythm, structure, and musical expression using movement. A Dalcroze class looks entirely different than the other the major methodologies of Orff, Kodaly and Suzuki: no desks or chairs are present, but instead objects like sticks, balls and drums fill the room and the teacher will often lead the class in movement exercises. Dalcroze believed that the first five years are the most formative for musical education, however, Dalcroze Eurhythmics is also very successful in music therapy for all ages. His method consists of three equally important elements: eurhythmics, solfège, and improvisation. Eurhythmics literally means "good rhythm" and Dalcroze taught that one must have a strong understanding of rhythm in order to appreciate other aspects of music.

An example of a Dalcroze rhythmic exercise would be passing a ball around a circle in tempo. This exercise builds the connection between rhythm and the body because the body has to move through the motion of passing the ball, which in itself takes time, therefore the body internalises the tempo of the game. Movement provides another way of reinforcing rhythmic concepts as kinesthetic learning serves as an addition to visual and aural learning.

 


Emile Jaques-Dalcroze