Chapter 1: The Components of a Dalcroze Education

1.1 Goals of Dalcroze Education

Dalcroze Education provides an experiential way of understanding music through the body. It addresses the structural elements of music (including, but not limited to beat, rhythm, meter, texture, phrase, and form) and aesthetic elements of music (including, but not limited to nuance, dynamics, tempo, articulation, and affect). As students gain control of their bodies, precision and accuracy are improved. As the connection between the ear and the body becomes more developed, students become freer to express creatively, both physically and musically at one’s instrument.

Dalcroze Education addresses the following:

  • Musicianship
    • Musical expression and understanding
    • Active listening and inner hearing
    • Music literacy
    • Aural memory
    • Visual memory
    • Sight reading and dictation
    • Choreography as related to music composition
  • The body as an instrument of learning and expression
    • The senses: aural (musical and verbal), visual, tactile, proprioceptive/kinesthetic
    • Kinesthetic memory
    • Motor control: coordination, balance, posture, and flexibility
    • Spatial awareness
    • Weight, quality, and intention as it relates to musical meaning, precision, and economy
    • Movement vocabulary and technique
  • Improvisation
    • Imagination, creative expression, and adaptability
    • Spontaneous synthesis and exploration of learned materials: music theory in action
    • Multiple contexts that espouse joy and the spirit of play through social interaction
      • Musical (piano, voice, or other instrument)
      • Solo, ensemble
      • Movement
    • Pedagogy: teachers improvise on their lesson plans based on the students’ responses

1.2 The 5 Branches of Dalcroze Education Teacher Training

Core Branches

1. Eurhythmics
2. Solfège
3. Improvisation

Applied Branches

4. Plastique Animée
5. Pedagogy

1.3 Principles, Strategies, and Techniques of a Dalcroze Education

Principles of a Dalcroze Education (Méthode Jaques-Dalcroze): An Education through and into Music

  1. Music as the Motivator, Stimulator, and Regulator
  2. Movement as the Means for Learning (Body as Instrument)
  3. Active Listening
  4. Adaptation
  5. Relationships of Time, Space, & Energy
  6. Discovery-based Learning
  7. Experience before Analysis
  8. Use of Imagination, Improvisation, and Invention
  9. Spirit of Play
  10. Social Interaction

Dalcroze Education Strategies and Techniques:
For Achieving Internalization of the Music and Movement Subjects (For use in all branches of Dalcroze Education)

  • Association and Dissociation
    • Re-association and Automatisation
  • Inhibition and Incitation/Excitation
  • Quick Reaction (Verbal, Aural/Musical, Tactile, Visual)
  • Canon
  • Follow
  • Series/Sequence/Systemization
  • Relationships of Time, Space, and Energy
  • Spatial Orientation/Exploration
  • Improvisation
  • Plastique Animée (as process)
  • Social Interaction/Group Exercises

1.4 The Principal Dalcroze Movement and Music Subjects

  • These lists are not exhaustive and are not listed in any particular order.
  • These subjects can be applied to any of the branches of Dalcroze study for the Certificate, License, or Diplôme Supérieur.

Principal Movement Subjects

  • Movement and techniques can include:
    • Movement vocabulary as basic locomotion: walk, slide, slow walk, skip, gallop, trot, jog, run, leap, hop, jump etc.
    • Warm-up activities, spatial exploration, Plastique Animée, basic elements of theater, non-verbal communication/interaction, movement improvisation (solos and group), folk dance, etc.
  • Interactions among Time, Space, and Energy
    • Time: pulse, duration, and rate of speed
    • Space: dimensions/planes, contour/shape, location, directions, kinesphere/volume
      • Measurement and use of space
      • Shared
      • Personal
      • Positive
      • Negative
  • Energy: flow, resistance, effort, and weight

Principal Music Subjects

  • Beat Type
    • Binary and ternary beats
  • Meter:
    • Simple (binary beats), Compound (ternary beats), Complex (unequal beats)
    • Anacrusis, Crusis, and Metacrusis as Measure Shape
    • Syncopation
    • Changing Meter
    • Metric/Rhythmic Transformation (regrouping of divisions, as in the various groupings of eighths)
    • Metric Modulation o Polymetrics
  • Phrase and Form
    • Anacrusis, Crusis, and Metacrusis
    • Antecedent/Consequent and Phrase-Period Structure
    • A Variety of Phrase Lengths and Proportions
    • Musical Forms
  • Expression and Nuance:
    • Affect, Mood
    • Dynamics, Articulation, Accents, Texture
    • Tempo, Accelerando, Ritardando, Rubato
    • Breath, Flow, Momentum, Energy
    • Register
  • Rhythms
    • Durations: Beat, Division, Multiple in Simple and Compound Meter
    • Rhythm Patterns/Modes (e.g. dactylic, anapest, iamb, trochée, amphibrach)
    • Complementary Rhythm
    • Additive Rhythm/Meter
    • Polyrhythm
      • Composite Rhythm and Cross-Rhythms (2:3, 3:4, 3:5, etc.)
      • Augmentation and Diminution
    • Syncopation
  • Silence/Rests: internalization of time/space in the absence of sound
    • Affect in relation to placement in a measure or phrase
    • Duration
    • Repose/internalization
  • Augmentation and Diminution of motifs (rhythmic patterns) both twice as fast/slow and three times as fast/slow, regular and irregular
    • A variety of lengths and complexities (2 or more beats in length, dotted values, and syncopations)
    • Hemiola: the interplay of 2 groups of 3 or 3 groups of 2
    • Phrases: systemizations/sequences/series of augmentation and diminution of a single motif
    • Polyrhythm
  • Melody, Harmony, Polyphony, and Texture
    • See Solfège Subjects
    • See Improvisation Subjects
  • Canons
    • Interrupted, Continuous
      • Pattern
      • Measure
      • At the Beat
      • At the Phrase
    • Realizations: locomotor, gestural, instrumental, and vocal

1.5 The Principal Dalcroze Movement Characteristics: A Baseline

These characteristics are not exhaustive and are not listed in any particular order; individual training centers have differing viewpoints regarding movement and gesture.

  • Dalcroze Education requires students to engage the entire body to vivify subjects. Students vary the time, space, energy, flow, and weight of locomotor and gestural movement as a part of the learning process to internalize and understand a given subject more fully. As students become more experienced, their intention and awareness increases and their movements become more cultivated, accurate and expressive.
  • Dalcroze students explore and discover movements to convey the structural and expressive aspects of music.
  • Because movement and gesture connect the mind, ears, eyes, and body, it is important that the movement be precise, efficient, purposeful, and musically expressive.
  • Exercises may employ Dalcroze arm beats (based on conventional conducting gestures) for the purpose of exploring, clarifying and internalizing meter. Students must be able to use Dalcroze arm beats in a variety of meters.
  • Dalcroze classes may utilize materials such as balls, sticks, scarves, elastics, ropes, etc. to enhance, not replace, the physical experience of subjects and expand the range of expressive possibilities. It is important that the use of the material be purposeful, precise, efficient, and musically expressive.
  • Generally, the class should be able to utilize the entire space in the room.
  • The movement techniques in a Dalcroze class are diverse and generally depend on the music played in the moment. Standards for movement technique will facilitate a musically expressive result and enhance creativity. Dalcroze experiences allow for creative expression using a full range of movement, and this is particularly evinced in Plastique Animée. Technical understanding promotes safety in the Dalcroze classroom; it also helps students to know their limits and use their bodies skillfully. In standard Dalcroze exercises, particularly at evaluations (i.e. canons, reactions, systemizations), the following principles will be meaningful:
    • Movement in a Dalcroze class is typically done in bare feet for sound, safety, and sensitivity; attention must be made to the techniques we use. Regarding the technical use of the feet, the US Dalcroze teaching community embraces many perspectives. Consequently, students must inquire with their individual instructors as to how, when, and why certain types of technical footwork are employed.*
    • The head, shoulders, back, hips, legs and feet should be properly balanced and aligned so that movement in any direction is possible;
    • the mover can easily be aware of the room and engage with others in it; § the movement is precise, efficient, and musically expressive.
    • Movers in a Dalcroze classroom adapt the quality of their movement according to the music; this engages the entire body core not just arms and legs.

*For example, when traditional shoes are worn, the heel strikes the ground first. In bare feet, some teachers teach students to avoid the heel as the first point of contact with the floor, and instead the front of the foot is the first point of contact. Of course, there are exceptions to this, depending the music played in the class. For example, if the music is very slow, the heel might be explored as a point of contact. Shift of weight using a mid-step approach to the floor is precise, economical, and easier on the joints; it engages the core to allow the body to be more musically expressive.

1.6 Processes

  • Dalcroze Education is an interactive process that develops skills in keen listening, music literacy, analysis, performance, improvisation, composition, and pedagogy. It is the combination of music, improvisation, and discovery-based, experiential learning that makes this work joyful, inspiring, and profound.
  • There are many ways and means of accomplishing the aforementioned ideas while upholding the principles of a Dalcroze Education and utilizing Dalcroze techniques and strategies. Activities used in the Dalcroze classroom involve varied forms and structures. Each Dalcroze teacher develops a unique style of teaching.
  • Typically, the Dalcroze educator engages students to discover concepts through kinesthetic experience before addressing the subject in theoretical or written form. This experience involves improvisation, which is a way for students to “play with” and internalize a subject, making it their own. Students cannot expect to gain a Dalcroze Education from a book or video alone; they must experience this type of education in the classroom.
  • The Dalcroze educator specializes in music and movement relationships. These relationships can be applied to a variety of disciplines: music performance, music education, music therapy, dance, dramatic arts, and general education, among others. Learning through experience, discovery, and feeling is a hallmark of Dalcroze Education.