Eurhythmics By Odom, Selma Landen
Eurhythmics, a coined word meaning ‘good’ or ‘right rhythm’, is the English name for the interactive approach to music education developed in the early 1900s by Swiss teacher-composer Émile Jaques-Dalcroze (1865–1950). He is often called Dalcroze, the pseudonym he adopted in his youth. The Dalcroze method, named variously in countries where the teaching spread, combines movement and ear training with physical, vocal, and instrumental improvisation. Teachers improvise at the piano but also use composed music and recordings to lead their classes, while participants listen, move, and sing to follow, responding immediately in the moment. Games and exercises include walking and stepping rhythms, swaying and swinging, using body percussion such as clapping, musical conducting, playing hand instruments, bouncing balls, ‘sculpting’ phrases in space, and devising ‘plastiques’ or realizations of musical works. Through the artistry of Dalcroze lessons, people shape and time personal movement within collective music activities. Learning to notate music builds on embodied experience followed by reflection and analysis. The teaching imparts musical elements, forms, and styles, usually from Western classical and folk traditions but increasingly from jazz and world sources. The purposeful, motivating music that Dalcroze-trained teachers improvise is the key tool of this distinct pedagogy. Many educators contribute to the enrichment and expansion of Dalcroze practices in the twenty-first century.