I was fortunate to be able to attend the 2018 DSA National Conference in Los Angeles. This event was inspirational for me and a great way to strengthen and grow my teaching practice. I attended some excellent sessions and had some phenomenal conversations with like-minded educators and musicians from around the world. The practice of Dalcroze Eurhythmics is indeed growing in the United States and this conference was evidence of such.
Any time I attend a Dalcroze event I am able to take away many new ideas and lessons for my own practice. This conference was no exception. I have many exciting ideas for my upcoming lessons and fresh concepts to bring to my classroom. However in this post, I will share some of the larger ideas, some of which I needed reminded, and some are emerging as new philosophies for my teaching.
1) Slow down! Talk Less! – Lessons from Fabian Bautz (Switzerland) and Toru Sakai (Japan) showed me that the pacing of a Dalcroze lesson need not always be energetic. Sometimes, especially in my public school job, I find myself pushing the pace, attempting to engage students through force of will. I forget that a gentle and calm demeanor can be just as engaging and more effective at times. Fabian Bautz session was incredibly challenging and thorough, but his voice never wavered from a soothing tone. Toru Sakai took only a handful of steps during his session and gave his instructions with minimal words. Perhaps this is a reflection of both of these teachers using their second (or third!) language, but it was nevertheless effective.
2) More procedures! – There was a fantastic pedagogy session that included a teaching demonstration of a local Dalcroze class. These were kids in the 6-8 year old range. I was really reminded of how important procedural practice is in the Dalcroze classroom. One thing I have been meaning to install in my procedures was a “ready” pose. This teacher had wonderful “ready” positions, changing them slightly for each activity being prepared. I really need to work our this procedure and hold my students to it regularly. I feel as if I have been neglecting this for far too long!
3) Weekly classes need to repeat material more. – My classes at Highland and the CMC only meet weekly. Sometime I forget that the lessons need a review. I should spend a few, maybe three, weeks on an activity or a piece before moving on. I get in such a hurry to present new material every week that it becomes too superficial and counter-productive. Especially moving into the plastique lessons that I am beginning, I need to be prepared to teach those lessons for a few weeks in a row to ensure retention and have a full experience.
4) Use the seasons and the holidays! – This is something I don’t do nearly enough. Many of the lessons made use of the seasons and holidays to engage learners. I saw lessons geared to Halloween, Christmas, Winter, Autumn, and Spring. This would be a wonderful addition to my curriculum, to find ways to incorporate the reality in which these students live. It will create more connection to the content.