With generous help from the Dalcroze Society of America, I had the opportunity to continue my Dalcroze teacher training at the Dalcroze School of the Rockies‘ Dalcroze Academy in Dallas, TX from July 18-30, 2022. Under the direction of Dr. Jeremy Dittus, diplôme supérieur, the faculty at DSRDA inspired and challenged me, encouraging me to stretch my skills to the best of my ability. The experience was transformational, and I left the academy brimming with ideas to use with my piano and music theory students.
During the two week Professional Certificate course, each day was filled with new learning experiences, both in formal class settings and informal exchanges with my peers. Our days included movement warm ups led by Dawn Pratson, where she would lead us through combinations from different somatic practices drawn from Bartenieff to Tai Chi. It was a wonderful way to begin the day.
Eurhythmics + Pedagogy
Eurhythmics classes occurred each day, coupled with pedagogy lessons. During pedagogy lessons, students created lessons according to Dalcroze principles and using Dalcroze strategies and had the opportunity to demo-teach these lessons to our class. This was an invaluable experience for me. Not only did I get the opportunity to try out ideas in a safe environment, but I received feedback from my teacher and my peers. Workshopping ideas together helped shape the direction I wanted my lessons to take, and seeing my peers’ lessons helped me see the Dalcroze principles and strategies at work in a number of different lessons designed for a wide variety of ages and contexts. In addition, my eurhythmics teacher Lauren Hodgson’s knowledge and experience with Dalcroze pedagogy combined with best practices from the wider educational field helped place these philosophies and ideas directly into a practical application.
Solfège lessons have challenged me to reframe the way I conceive of music theory concepts I already know. As a graduate teaching assistant, I have taught aural skills to music majors at the university level, and this reframing of processes to learning aural music theory in a Dalcrozian way has been extremely beneficial for my students. Instead of lecture-before-skill acquisition (as many music theory textbooks advocate), changing to a theory-follows-practice model allows students to take ownership of their skills and transform music theory from something that only exists on the page to something deep in the body and inner consciousness.
In a strange twist of events, I sustained a fracture to one of my fingers during the third day of the workshop (yes, scarves were involved…). This had substantial implications for improvising at the piano, as well as many other areas needing to be assessed. The faculty at DSRDA could not have been more supportive in both validating my concerns not only as a Dalcroze student, but as a pianist. For improvisation at the piano, with the help of Jeremy Dittus and Bill Bauer, I modified my movement improvisations to only use the left hand, and rewrote progressions so that I could play both chords and motifs with one hand. While a finger injury is never an ideal situation for a pianist, what I gained from the experience was an important lesson for me as both a musician as well as a human being. The compassion and support from the faculty and students helped me grow in ways I had not expected, but am grateful for nonetheless.
I have deep gratitude to the DSA for its support of my continued Dalcroze training through the Dalcroze Society of America Memorial Scholarship. The funds have substantially lightened the financial burden of embarking on my Dalcroze journey.
Dalcroze Society of America Memorial Scholarships help future Dalcroze teachers study at accredited Dalcroze teacher training programs in the United States or abroad. Please consider a donation to support the DSA Memorial Scholarship Fund.