Dalcroze For Children · Teaching

1st-2nd Grade: Skills and Objectives Associated with Rhythm (Part 2 of 4)

Second in a series of posts describing what a typical class might cover during the year.

Now we get to the heart of the matter. This is a formidable list, and not all that different from a list I might make for adult classes. Does this mean the children mastered each of these things? No. But then again I haven’t mastered them either! In the Dalcroze approach we aim for spiral learning. Each week we visit skills, concepts, phenomena over and over in different ways to accumulate many different kinds of experience and to allow each subject area to acquire personal meaning.

Some of the items on the list we may have only worked with once or twice (beats divided into 4, or dotted quarters, for example). Others I manage to work into almost every class (synchronizing locomotor movements to the beat of improvised or recorded music, for example). I hope that my students eventually have an expansive repertoire of knowing these musical subjects. It’s way more than learning to read notation, though that is one of the goals. Yes, I want them to recognize that the symbol of a quarter note is one way to represent the beat (actually there are many other ways!), but more importantly that they know that a steady beat in music has the potential for so much expressive power: beats can speed up, slow down, be strong, be light, pause, disappear and reappear in unexpected places, and on and on. And that’s just the beat! Here’s the list:

  • Dynamics:
    • express dynamics in different parts of the body
    • move easily with different types of weight
    • associate different types of weight with a range of dynamics
    • combine any tempo with any dynamic
    • change dynamics on command
      • slowly
      • suddenly
    • lead a change of dynamics
    • association of language and notation
  • Beat:
    • be able to synchronize different locomotor movements to the beat of improvised or recorded music
    • stop and start on command at the same tempo
    • synchronize to
      • another
      • the group
      • music
    • do something for a specific number of beats: up to 8
    • express beats in different parts of the body
    • relate a beat to notation (the bottom number of a time signature)
  • Rests
    • Perform specific actions during beat-long rests in different parts of the measure (simple meter)
    • Experience different expressive possibilities of longer rests in music
  • Division (durations smaller than the beat) in simple (beat divided into 2’s) and compound (beat divided into 3’s)
    • differentiate one set of divisions of 2 or 3 from the basic beat
    • step the beat and clap a division of 2
    • move divisions of 2 from a beat played on the piano
    • recognize notation with quarter note as beat
    • recognize notation with a dotted quarter as beat
  • Subdivision in simple meter (beats divided into 4)
    • recognize aurally
    • play simple patterns with beat and division
    • recognize notation with quarter note as beat
  • Multiples (durations longer than the beat)
    • perform an action for a specific number of beats
    • Recognize notation for multiples of 2, 3 and 4 with quarter as beat
    • step beat while clapping a multiple of 2, 3 or 4; same with hands and feet reversed.
    • Hearing beats, perform an action lasting 2, 3 or 4 beats.
    • Match durations in movement or on an instrument that lasts 2, 3 or 4 beats
  • Meter (groupings of beats):
    • duple, triple, quadruple in simple (beat divided into 2’s)
      • distinguish between the three groupings aurally
      • recognize and understand time signatures of x/4 (top number of a time signature)
      • Step beat and clap downbeat
        • change between meters (2/4 3/4 4/4)
          • on command
          • in response to the music
      • Express meters of 2, 3 and 4 in movement in place
    • Compound duple (beat divided into 3’s)
      • move to beat, division and trochee (skipping) rhythms
      • respond to music that changes between compound duple and simple duple
      • move to music containing subdivisions in compound (e.g. sixteenth notes in 6/8)
  • Rhythmic Patterns
    • Simple meter patterns
      • be able to identify aurally, step and play on percussion
        • Anapest (short short long)
        • Dactylic (long short short)
    • compound meter patterns

Part 3 next week will focus on subject areas related to pitch.

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