Each Monday evening in a large hall in Ealing bubbles of joy keep rising up during our rhythmics classes, in spite of our troubles and the wider troubles of the world.
If you have been reading these posts or have simply glanced at this website you will surely know that since last summer I have been teaching Dalcroze Eurhythmics (or rhythmics for short!) to adults. It started with an introductory course in which several newcomers to the method took part and continued from September with a course which will lead, by next summer, to the Foundation Award of the Dalcroze Eurhythmics International Examination Board or DEIEB to a small group of students.
The rhythmics lessons were purposely kept open for anyone from the general public who wanted to give Dalcroze a go. This had a dual purpose of augmenting the Foundation group for the rhythmics sessions and being an opportunity to tempt others to give Dalcroze a try. The outcome has been a group of about half a dozen adults each week, which is a good size for a rhythmics class. Of course, I’d love the numbers to grow even more…
I often tell my friends about my own experience of Dalcroze and always recount how my foremost memory as having a true ‘belly laugh’ each weekend, at some point or other! I don’t remember this being a feature of any other educational experience. Why does Dalcroze so often prompt this type of response?
Firstly, we Dalcrozians learn to be in touch with our ‘inner child’ and to literally ‘play’ with ideas and concepts. Sometimes the outcomes are amusing in themselves. At other times we suddenly catch ourselves behaving like excitable children (in a good way) and laugh at the thought! Secondly, there is an openness about mistakes that mean that when we find something a bit too challenging, we can laugh about it. This can be an important part of learning: not to be embarrassed about mistakes but to laugh at oneself and try again (perhaps guided by the teacher on a path to achieve the difficult exercise). Thirdly, there is the simple joy of succeeding at a task after trying over a period of weeks to do it. And often, this can be a group task. For example, we recently played a game in which tennis balls were passed between the group in a particular order and at first it was chaos. There were tennis balls everywhere. We then practised for a while until we could pass the tennis balls in time to music without them colliding in the air and with everyone ready to throw and receive. It was a truly satisfying moment, perhaps like successfully executing some good moves in a team sport.
The regular members of my Monday rhythmics come from all over London. Only one person is local and I can understand the effort it must take to commit to travelling and then participating in a class after a day at work. I hope that by the end of most weeks we have laughed together at some point and that this helps to make the classes a joyous occasion.
If you’re reading this and can relate to what I’ve said then do write to me and tell me your experience. Is there anything I’ve missed in my explanations of why Dalcroze is fun?