DSA Scholarship recipients' reflections on their Dalcroze experience are regularly published in the DSA journal. Excerpts from those reflections are printed below...
Dana Zenobi, Institute for Jacques-Dalcroze Education, 2011
The first day at this summer’s Institute for Jaques Dalcroze Education in Middletown, Maryland began with the experience of music. Before introductions were made, before teaching methods were discussed, even before logistics and guidelines for the program were laid out, there was music and movement. The music, improvised at the piano, was compelling and sophisticated, and responding to the sounds through the body seemed both very natural and unexpectedly “new.”
The act of making music connects body, mind, and creative spirit. Yet within academia, our approach to training young professional musicians is heavily tilted towards the cerebral, especially when it comes to music theory and aural skills. In both the voice studio and the theory classroom, students can become disconnected from the spontaneity and expressive aspects of music as they work to analyze and understand, or endeavor to “do it right.” Dalcroze is particularly exciting to me because it allows these vital creative aspects of music making to be honed and explored while enhancing the rigor of the musicianship training we provide.
Dalcroze methodology has been equally valuable in the voice studio. Singers are accustomed to working with the body because our instrument lies within it. Although we focus a great deal on body awareness as we build technical skills, singers are rarely asked to develop a kinesthetic understanding of musical concepts. Since returning from the Institute, I have been working with my student singers on rhythmic, expressive and musical concepts using the Dalcroze approach. I find singers to be particularly receptive to Dalcroze methods, and as a result, they are singing with both greater musical accuracy and greater interpretive freedom.
Dana Zenobi is a soprano who has performed leading roles with companies including Lyric Opera Cleveland, Austin Lyric Opera, and Opera in the Heights. She holds MM and DMA degrees from The University of Texas at Austin, as well as a BA in Music from Duke University. Dr. Zenobi is an Assistant Professor at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX, where she teaches applied voice and ear training. She is also founder and Executive Director of BELTA (Building Empowered Lives Through Art), a non- profit organization which supports musicians and artists as they build successful careers.
William Patterson, Longy School of Music ,2010
I appreciated that many classes emphasized experience first and analysis later. This proved difficult for me, because I tend to analyze everything too much! During my stay at Longy, I soon learned I could not analyze everything and remain “count oriented” with rhythms, because sometimes there is a more efficient and complete way of learning. Activities such as diminution/ augmentation in eurhythmics, complicated polyrhythms in TaKeTiNa, or sight singing in solfège left no time to analyze the music during the activity. It was a relief and a great feeling of accomplishment when I was able to free myself from an analytical frame of mind, because that type of thinking was restraining. Although critical thinking is a great tool, there is a natural and organic side to music that I wish I had focused on at an earlier age. Musical ideas such as phrasing seemed obvious during Dalcroze lessons; a phrase has a beginning, middle, and end, like every story we have read since childhood. It also seemed useful to have analysis after an activity, because it helped my understanding when our discussions were based on prior experience and knowledge I could build from. After such musical experiences, I could finally analyze (when appropriate), and apply that knowledge during a session of plastique animée, for example. I enjoyed how my Dalcroze experiences balanced an organic approach with an analytical style of learning, especially since I come from a classical background in Western music.
I plan to use eurhythmics in my studies in dance accompanying and teaching music to dancers. Upon starting this fall semester, I have already noticed that I view movement from a more musical perspective, which has already helped me tremendously when I accompany ballet and modern dance classes at the University of Arizona. My summer Dalcroze experience helps me when a teacher presents a new dance technique combination I haven’t seen before, because I feel more confident that I will select or improvise music that will support the movement. My Dalcroze training has been especially helpful when a dance professor presents a combination in an odd meter, or when I’m phrasing a mixture of meters.
William Patterson is a native of Phoenix, Arizona, and is now attending the University of Arizona to complete his dance accompaniment degree and dance minor this semester. Over his undergraduate years, William has enjoyed serving as the drum major for the UofA “Pride of Arizona” Marching Band for two years, teaching as a clinician for local high schools and the UA color guard ensemble, playing various instruments in UA musicals and UA dance productions, performing with the top UA wind ensemble, premiere saxophone quartet and jazz band. William just completed his studies in music education with his saxophone senior recital last spring. The College of Fine Arts at the University of Arizona recently awarded William the “Creative Achievement Award” for the College of Music. William is looking forward to stu- dent teaching next semester, continuing his certification in Dalcroze Eurhythmics in the summer, and performing on tour in Asia with Artifact Dance Project as a pianist, saxophonist, and dancer.
Sarah Case, Carnegie Mellon University, 2010
‘Awakening,’ Non-Judgmental,’ ‘Body and mind connection,’ ‘Wholistic,’ ‘An incarnation of music in the body.’ Each of these descriptions so beautifully articulated my week’s experience at the Marta Sanchez Dalcroze Training Center. The quotes completed the prompt “Eurhythmics is...” and were some of the responses offered by the prestigious instructors at the 2010 International Dalcroze Eurhythmics Conference. What a splendid week it was having classes with internationally acclaimed eurhythmics instructors! The week was filled with many ‘Aha’ moments, two of which I will describe. One such ‘Aha’ moment was in our improvisation class with Louise Mathieu. Ms. Mathieu led the class through improvisation exercises using the voice, body and then the piano all in preparation for our group improvisation. Two people began having a musical conversation at the piano, and then periodically musicians would exchange places with those at the piano. The piece started with a fairly innocent tonal bit then moved through multiple tempos and tonalities and even included playing the piano with fists. As it developed, it gained its own character and energy that was felt by everyone involved. In this instance, piano skills—or the lack thereof—did not predetermine the music’s potential. Each person made music whether it was with fingers or fists. In my own teaching I remind myself to free students occasionally of conventional techniques to allow another outlet for music to come through.
Sarah Case, BMEd, MA currently directs the Bloom! Music and Movement Centre in Columbus, OH where she offers Music Together Classes as well as private violin and viola lessons.