2018 Dalcroze National Conference

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.