7-9 Year-old Dalcroze: 11/22/16

7-9 Year-old Dalcroze; 11/22/16

  • Make a shape with curves. Make a shape with straight lines.
    • This seemingly simple direction was first intended to be a physical warm-up. As I watched their choices, I began to play accompanying chords: towards dissonance for the curvy, and towards consonant for the straight-line shapes. After a time, I stopped calling, and let the music speak to them. I experimented with harmonic progressions that moved from tension to release, and many responded well to this. It was interesting to see their interpretations even though there is a good deal of subjectivity when it comes to consonance and dissonance.
  • Toss the scarf on the long note.
    • I played three patterns in 2/4 time, using all the different possible combinations of a quarter and two eighth-notes. I encourage musically a big release on the long note. When we were finished, we looked at how these rhythms are be notated. I choose not to emphasize this too much, as there is so much about experiencing those rhythms that cannot be conveyed by their symbolic representation.
  • Step the beat, clap the rhythm.
    • We returned to this basic Dalcroze exercise known as a dissociation. It stretches their coordination abilities, and allows them to experience the same rhythms in a new way. We’ll keep coming back to these kinds of exercises each week, but without spending too much time as they can be exhausting.
  • When the melody goes up, walk forward; when the melody goes down, move backwards.
    • Another association. They followed the piano for a while, and they I began to sing “If You Dance,” from last week. I let them discover the shape of the melody as we sang and enjoyed moving it with them.
  • Choose a percussion instrument and play a pattern. Another will play with you, improvising freely.
    • Some young players seem naturally inclined to invent and repeat patterns, some seem more interested in generating and exploring new material. The children listened well to each other. Second players were most likely to add something repetitive to another player’s pattern, which of course is a perfectly valid musical behavior (we call that a ‘groove’). If two players locked into a groove, I picked up an instrument and freely played over it.
  • Group improvisation: all play together quietly enough so that you can hear the softest player.

This simple direction is meant to encourage closer listening, which can be challenging for any age when playing in a large group. I was curious to see whether they would fall into a recognizable beat and meter. They almost did. I am perfectly happy if they don’t for right now, just as long as they are really listening to each other as they play. We ended with a group sing and play-a-long of Bim Bom.


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