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7-9 Year-old Dalcroze: April

Life caught up with me in April, so this is the first update for class activities in over a month. Here is a brief list of some of the things we have explored and games we have played over the past several weeks:

  • Toss the bean bag on the high note.
    • Kids hear melodic patterns in 4/4 time. Each pattern consists of quarter notes with a high note falling on beat 1, 2, 3 or 4. They walk and toss on the high note. Challenging for most. We spent some time in the beginning exploring things to do with a bean bag that can match specific tempo and dynamics requirements.
  • Lead your partner through touch.
    • Partners work to develop a set of signals to guide their partner around the room. Signals can include direction, starting/stopping, tempo, etc. I encouraged them to talk as little as possible. Pairs demonstrated for the group. The group attempted to discern and describe the signals they saw.
  • Movement Concertos
    • The student with a bean bag moves as she likes, the piano follows her with a single voice. When the piano plays with many voices, the entire class joins in the same movement. The children are encouraged to use a wide variety of tempo and dynamics as I attempt to mimic concerto form and style in my improvisation.
  • Improvisation with rhythm cards.
    • Partners sit across from each other. A holds up rhythm card, B plays rhythm following whenever A changes. All partners perform simultaneously.
      • variation: One student conducts for dynamics.
  • Metrical scarf toss
    • Quick reaction: step the beat and toss the scarf on the 2nd beat of a 4/4 measure if I call “2”, etc. (Students are hearing dotted quarters on their toss as I play.)
  • Dotted Quarter Quick reaction
    • Walk with a partner linking arms. When you hear a dotted quarter + eighth, change directions with your partner.
    • Walk alone. At “hop”, take one step backwards. (“hop” coincides with a dotted quarter + eighth.)
  • Pattern + soloist, improvisation
    • Group plays a pattern, one soloist is free to play as she likes. (All have percussion instruments.) We experimented with the form of this one, and really practiced listening for dynamics and responsiveness to the soloist.

Those are a few of our greatest hits. I’ll give you one more update at the end of the year, which is coming up fast. Happy Memorial Day! Always interested in your thoughts and comments.

Michael

7-9 Dalcroze: 1/24/17

Here are this week’s activities:

  • Make a straight line with one hand and a circle with the other.
    • Not easy for anyone to do, and most were not able to accomplish this. However, it allowed us to become acclimated to our temporary room which contained a large wall mirrored wall. I allowed them to look at themselves for a while, and then announced, “There actually is no mirror here,” hoping to discourage them from being distracted by it. It mostly worked!
  • Association: quarter note=walk; eight notes=stop and clap
    • I played very simply on a drum, and asked a student to play. This is the first time students have played for a movement exercise. I was surprised at how carefully they played and listened to each other, though it was challenging to sustain interest by the time we got to the last student. I participated with the movers.
  • Same game, but I played on the piano, using the low register for the feet, and the upper register for the hands.
    • I stuck to the rhythmic structure I had set up, but gradually moved it into a dissociation: the feet stepped quarter notes and the hands clapped eighth notes. Many were successful. For some this is challenging.
  • Ah Poor Bird
    • I transitioned into this simple but beautiful little round which some already knew. I put them into ‘nests’ and asked one to ‘fly’ into another’s nest and land right at the end of the song.
  • Ice Skating
    • By special request, we repeated this from last week. This time, I played for it and asked them to develop a trick or series of movements that they could demonstrate. Each took a turn. They moved with abandon!
  • 1-3-5
    • As they relaxed on the floor, I began to lead them in associations with 1, 3 and 5 of the scale (showing what they hear with arms, legs, fingers as they liked). I slowly introduced the Haydn to see who might recognize it. Some did. We then used tone bars to invent phrases using 1-5 of the scale. We then played and sang phrases using tone bars of 1-5 of the C major scale. Some sang with numbers, with varying degrees of accuracy. I chose not to correct, but to just let them experiment without feeling like they had to ‘get it right’. There will be plenty of time for that!