Covid-19 and a new academic year at the Institut Jaques-Dalcroze

A new academic year has just begun at the Institut Jaques-Dalcroze (ijd), Geneva and Dalcroze Eurhythmics has had to adapt to all the new circumstances.

One of the selling points of Dalcroze Eurhythmics is the social benefits that students gain. A Dalcroze Eurhythmics class is a collaborative experience, where students learn continually from each other as well as from the teacher. A person becomes aware of his/her place in space in relation to others, is able to notice the quality of others’ movement and be inspired by it. He/she responds to the music being improvised and is supported by his/her peers. In all Dalcroze sessions the participants are encouraged to work together, sometimes to consolidate a learning point and at others to be creative using the tools the teacher has introduced in the lesson. Dalcroze Eurhythmics is primarily a sociable activity.

Pre-pandemic physical contact was a valuable tool in learning about weight, strength and also trust. Without it the class loses a resource. Similarly, pre-pandemic objects such as balls, chopsticks or scarves were used routinely in lessons. These can still be used but the necessity for hygiene makes their use more problematic. A ball can no longer be passed around a circle which prohibits a number of enjoyable and sociable games.

Dalcroze practitioners moved ‘online’ to teach during the lockdown and, although we adapted to the new situation (and there are some advantages to the medium) I think most of us would agree that Rhythmics needs to be ‘in person’ to be fully enjoyed!

The ijd Bachelor and Master students returned, unusually in mid-August, to finish last year’s studies after being interrupted by Covid-19 and the Institute has, like other colleges and universities, embraced a strict regime of hygiene, mask-wearing and social distancing. At the moment mask wearing only takes place in the corridors and not in lessons and it was a joy for me to teach a class ‘in person’ after having not done so for nearly 6 months! As a candidate for the Diplôme Supérieur I teach classes, which are observed, in the three disciplines of Dalcroze Eurhythmics: Rhythmics, Solfège and Improvisation. I have one or two more lessons to teach in Rhythmics and the Improvisation lessons to teach later this year. In the meantime I am about to return to the UK where I hope to teach for the Dalcroze UK Teacher Training programme ‘in person’. Let’s hope that our Dalcroze teacher trainees can experience Dalcroze Rhythmics as it is meant to be!

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