In our musicianship classes the children deepen their understanding of music, develop a strong sense of pulse, rhythm and inner hearing and explore music theory in a practical way. We use our instruments for a wide range of activities including improvisation and children can prepare for their ABRSM practical musicianship examinations if they wish.
The children all learn to use solfege including Curwen handsigns and enjoy many of the Music Mind Game materials. They also compose and each have a folder in which they collect all of the materials given out in the classes as well as their own works. Groups are formed by experience rather than age and new students can join at the beginning of each term.
We also offer workshop based classes for parents which include the basics of rhythmic notation and note reading and are designed to help understand musical notation and music theory in order to be able to help their children more confidently as they progress through the repertoire.
Dalcroze Eurhythmics offers a creative approach to learning music through body movements. Children explore musical concepts such as beat, tempo, rhythm patterns, dynamics, ear-training, and musical form, all through movement. Listening and singing games using solfege syllables (doh, re, mi) are also part of the classes and help training and developing the inner ear.
The rhythmics classes focus on learning the elements of music through active listening and responding through natural movement. These classes initially serve as an introduction to music for young children before they take instrumental lessons but most children keep attending classes while studying their instruments - this is where they experience the theory and ear-training components of their musical development. The lesson content gets more complex over time as the children progress, introducing more advanced concepts such as irregular time signatures, complementary rhythms, two against three, etc. We always have a lot of fun exploring these parameters.
Dalcroze Eurhythmics is a unique approach to Music Education based on the premise that the human body is the source of all musical ideas. Physical awareness or kinaesthetic intelligence is one of our most powerful senses, yet it is often taken for granted. We use it in everyday situations to keep our balance, judge distances, and manipulate the objects around us. In a similar way, we must move with flexibility, fluidity, and economy in order to play a musical instrument with both passion and skill.
Dalcroze Eurhythmics allows us to gain a practical, physical experience of music before we theorise and perform. This ensures that the whole person, not just the fingers and the brain, is educated in the development of musicianship and artistry. In learning about time, space, energy, weight, and balance through movement, we develop a framework with which to approach the same elements in music.
How does it work?
It is not enough to have a purely intellectual and aural understanding of musical concepts - the body has to know what they feel like. Since the whole body is involved in playing and singing, any information that is not already in the body will not, indeed cannot, come through in our performance.
Through training the body (and not only the ear) we can deepen and broaden our power of musical expression and understanding so that we experience the music more deeply. In Dalcroze, the study and understanding the language of music is achieved by engaging our whole being - mind and body. For example, we step and clap note values and rhythms, we travel with an object across the room to express the line of a phrase and we map out in space the form of a piece. We show the quality of a sound with a physical gesture and illustrate texture by interacting with others. In doing so, many other faculties are developed such as pre-hearing and thinking skills (being able to hear in our heads before we play), coordination, concentration and memory. We develop musical flexibility and confidence and the ability to work as soloists or within an ensemble. We learn to create our own music by watching someone move and playing for that movement. We express the energy of movement in our playing; where it is still, where it moves and travels and where it grows. And we also learn through music to develop our own vocabulary of movement by expressing the feelings within it; its forces, its emotions and power.
The Kodály method at a glance
Why musicianship training through singing?
Singing engages INNER HEARING. You cannot sing without first hearing a sound in your head – you can reproduce a sound on an instrument without inner hearing. Singing is available to everyone. Vocal exercise such as singing one part and signing the other encourages harmonic hearing.
Why rhythm names?
The rhythm names convey the length of musical sounds, they are not meant to replace ‘actual’ names but to make a more logical approach e.g. the word crotchet has two syllables but the word ta has one. This enables a more fluent reading of rhythmic patterns. A child who cannot clap a rhythmic pattern is unlikely to play it accurately. A child who says rhythm names accurately will play them accurately enhanced through interaction with others.
Why relative Solfa and movable doh?
Relative solfa reduces all major/minor scales to one common pattern, which makes singing in solfa just as simple in ANY KEY and in any clef! Each solfa name has a function within the given tonality e.g. do is the home note in a major key, la is the home note in a minor key. An understanding of solfa helps in the hearing of intervals, triads and inversions etc. Solfa simplifies transposition. Singing in solfa helps intonation.
Handsigns are particularly useful as a visual aid as they immediately show the relative positions of each pitch. Handsigns are a useful tool for two part singing and therefore for harmonic hearing. Handsigns give character and function to each pitch e.g. handsign for ti points upwards and the leading note usually rises.
Why musical reading and writing?
“There is no good musician who does not hear what he sees, and does not see what he hears”
Train the ear before the eye – the ear should be familiar with the sounds of the note.
"Don’t hurry, don’t rest – without stopping, without haste – carefully taking one step forward at a time will surely get you there."
Shinichi Suzuki, Nurtured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education