Update to Dalcroze day blog

After I had written my blog in response to the Dalcroze training

(See here for my first post Taster Day)

 I discovered that someone else on the course called Julia had also written a blog. Her take on the day really brought me up short and made me realise I needed to be clearer. So I am going to ask you to read her blog here

I think Julia is absolutely correct to so clearly identify the gap between the levels of expertise and mastery that professional Dalcroze teachers need and the gaping chasm between that and state classrooms.

Unless Dalcroze can cross that divide it will remain an exclusive approach just for those with the time money and inclination. This is not a criticism of the tutors who run the courses – they are clearly trying their best to be accessible by keeping costs down and trying to run courses when people are free at the weekend.

I think it is a problem for the Dalcroze movent as a whole though that the key philosophical ideas that underpin the teaching are entirely absent from the National Curriculum. They needed to be campaigning hard to ensure that at least a paragraph was devoted to the concept of music as movement was at the heart of the curriculum. At the very least it would have meant teacher trainers, music schemes would have been obliged to address. Where was the Dalcroze voice when wider opportunities was being discussed? When the Mayor’s music fund was being planned? Surely they have plenty to say about the necessity of understanding music physically through the body before big instruments are placed in small hands?

Maybe I am being unfair – Dalcroze exists beyond being a philosophy for children’s music education and maybe it falls to us teachers to speak out for our curriculum but as Julia says in her blog, Dalcroze is certainly a well kept secret for many.

I think we need to ensure that state school teachers are introduced to the central concepts behind Kodaly. We need an explanation of the pedagogy with key principles and a few youtube clips. if I was a Dalcroze ninja I would give a small group of committed state school teachers a free weeks training and then challenge them to create simple lesson ideas/plans to be shared with any teacher that wanted them. Teachers don’t need a detailed manual. Give them the basic philosophy and trust them! Now I know that poses a challenge for organisations who need to keep a clarity and a purity to their work but I think it is a risk worth taking. Dalcroze has SO MUCH to offer music teachers and is so relevant to the arguments currently raging about using instruments, assessments, teaching music musically etc.

What about an evening/weekend meeting for those interested in getting Dalcroze values into primary school music? I’m willing to bet ISM, Sing up, Sound Connections, Musical Futures, all the lovely academics, some of the hubs – in fact anyone with an interest in musical music lessons would be interested in exploring?

The other lesson I’ve learned is the absolute folly for organisations to organise training and then make no time for participants to share and talk. If I had had the opportunity to talk to Julia on the day then maybe it would have refined my thinking. As it is I am grateful that Julia blogged her thoughts and the happy coincidence of The Archers meant we found each other. I know that my thinking and understanding of Dalcroze has been deepened by interacting with Julia.

John Finney has promised to blog about Dalcroze soon. I  look forward to reading it.

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