"I know, because I have experienced." ~ Emile Jaques-Dalcroze
We attended a session led by Dr. Kathryn L. Evans about incorporating Dalcroze, Orff, and Kodaly methods into the classroom. Led by Dr. Evans, we as a group collaborated to create concise definitions of each practice. We concluded that the Dalcroze method is primarily characterized by movement and the embodiment of rhythm to improve musical ability. The Orff method involves games and experimentation through play. With the Kodaly method, the focus is on music literacy. The common thread linking these three approaches to music education is the idea that music is essentially a kinesthetic learning experience.
Throughout the session, Dr. Evans introduced a wide variety of activities that can be used to incorporate D-O-K techniques into the music classroom or choral activities. We began with an attention-grabbing game similar to Simon Says called "Poison," in which the teacher intones a musical phrase that is dubbed the "poison" phrase and cannot be repeated. The teacher asks the students to reproduce pitch patterns or rhythms as they hear them, but if the "poison" pattern is presented and a student repeats it, then they are out. Another game we played was the "question and answer" game, in which the teacher sings a musical question (ending on a weak cadence) and asks the students to come up with an answer that adheres to a specific guideline (such as "It must end on DO"). Each student must use their musical creativity to compose a short phrase, and individuality is encouraged.
We also discussed multiple ways to utilize solfege, Kodaly, and Curwen hand signs with students. Dr. Evans led us in various exercises that incorporated both diatonic and chromatic hand signs, and she introduced multiple tools that can be used to enhance students' musicality. One such tool was the "texting stick," which can be useful to both visual and kinesthetic learners. (See attachment below for details.)
We participated in a number of activities that focused on phrasing. One was the "rainbow ring," which involved a group of students pulling and stretching a large scrunchie-like band to show their interpretation of the shape of a sung phrase. Another exercise required us to pair up and sing up and down a scale, leaning in toward each other on the highest notes. The purpose of this activity is to help students embody the peak of the phrase.
Dr. Evans also shared examples of tools that can be used to explore Kodaly stick notation. One example she highlighted in particular was the "heartbeat kit." Her reasoning behind the name stems from how a human's heartbeat may vary in tempo, but always needs to beat consistently to stay alive. This is directly applicable to notation.
For much of this session, we were all up and moving around the room. We enjoyed playing a game called "find the bird," where we were asked to move around the room in a way that reflected the mood of Dr. Evans' improvised piano accompaniment. As we were moving, Dr. Evans would suddenly stop playing the accompaniment and instead play a two-note pattern that resembled the sound of a coo-coo bird. We would then be asked to identify whether the bird was hiding up high or down low, depending on the register of the sound. She also discussed the use of the "rhythm in the hands, beat in the feet," an activity commonly associated with Dalcroze Eurhythmics, to practice mixed meter. We marched around the roomed, stepping quarter notes and clapping eighth notes until Dr. Evans asked us to stop and do the inverse. This requires quick thinking on the students' part and helps them to develop an internal sense of pulse.
We thoroughly enjoyed this interactive session, and we now have some additional teaching tools to experiment with in the future. Attached is Dr. Evans's handout from the session!
-Caitlin Walton, IC ACDA Secretary, & Juliana Joy Child, IC ACDA Treasurer
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