1st-2nd Grade: 9/19/17

Welcome! This year I will be writing about two different Dalcroze classes semi-regularly. One is a class for 1st-2nd grade, and the other is for 3rd-5th grade students. In this post, I’ll describe the first class of the year for the 1st -2nd graders.

  • Go/Stop/Melt
    • Three simple rules: 1) Go – move any way you like. 2) Stop – yup, just stop. 3) Melt – as slowly as possible let gravity take you to the floor.
      • This game serves several purposes. Right away it gives the kids almost complete freedom to move as they wish. This allows me to see what kinds of movers they are (how do they use the space? how do they naturally like to move? how independent are they in their improvisation? how do they interact with each other?)
      • Variation: students lead.
        • Each student got a turn to make the calls. This is an opportunity for me to view each as leader and follower. For some, it is hard to remember the sequence in the heat of the moment. Some like to play with the timing of the calls.
      • Extension: the piano leads.
        • I improvise music that tells them when to go, when to stop, and when to melt. A central theme in a Dalcroze class is responding as fully as possible to improvised music, physicalizing as many of the elements (tempo, dynamics, meter, patterns, pitch, key, phrasing) as possible. For some, this will be their first experience doing this. Others have been in Dalcroze classes, or other classes, previously that have exercised and developed these skills. This gives me an opportunity again to oberve their response. In this particular group, not many seemed aware of differences of tempo and dynamics. No problem – we’ll work on it throughout the year!
      • Discussion about tempo and dynamics
        • Since we had been moving (and kids this age don’t self regulate too well – lots of running), I brought the class over to the board and asked them what they heard in the music I had played while they were moving. I had consciously tried to play with a variety of tempos and dynamics anticipating this. The kids covered all of the bases in their discussion, which was a good sign! They registered awareness of soft and loud, fast and slow, even major and minor.
      • Clapping with no sound
        • Many of the activities in the eurhythmics classroom must happen without any sound from the students so that all can respond quickly and sensitively. We practiced clapping to express different dynamics, all without making any sound. The expression is in the gesture. I conducted them through a variety of tempo and dynamics changes, asking them to either clap or play an imaginary instrument. The response to this was pretty good, though it is hard for a child this age to play and focus on a leader. We’ll work on this in the future!
      • Tempo and Dynamics Follow
        • This is a core Dalcroze game that has many varieties. This time, I asked them to return to the movement floor and respond to the dynamics and tempo changes that they heard me play. Looking back, I probably should have left this for the next time as their had already been quite a lot of movement, and time was growing short. But there was definitely some progress nevertheless!

We’ll pick up there next week, as we turn our focus toward meter and duration. There will be plenty of opportunities to express nuances of tempo and dynamics in all of the rhythm games that we will be doing, and, of course, on their instruments, throughout the year.

Michael

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