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Dalcroze Australia – Summer Scene (January 2023)

Students taking part in an Improvisation lesson

In January 2023 I was invited as international guest teacher to Dalcroze Australia’s first in-person course for three years. I was delighted to be asked and the experience exceeded all my expectations.

The course took place in Melbourne at a school with excellent facilities for teaching the three branches of Dalcroze Eurhythmics: a large hall which was ideal for teaching Rhythmics and two smaller spaces for teaching Aural Training and Improvisation. All three spaces were blessed with high-quality pianos. Members of the Dalcroze Australia committee had brought along plenty of equipment with which to work. In addition course members and teachers were treated to mid-morning plates of fruit and cheese to munch alongside their tea or coffee! To my relief the premises were air-conditioned so it was a very comfortable place in which to work!

Best of all the course attracted a good number of students including several newcomers to Dalcroze and all were enthusiastic, responsive and appreciative! The other principle teachers on the course included the Director of Studies for Australia’s Dalcroze Eurhythmics International Examination Board (DEIEB), Dr Sandra Nash, Mr Jerison Harper-Lee, who has a Masters degree from the Institut Jaques-Dalcroze and Katherine Smith, who is currently studying for her Licence qualification. Madeline Hagon joined the course on the last day in order to introduce Dalcroze to those who attended the Taster Day and Jane Andrewartha led movement sessions at the start of each day.

The warm-up movement sessions meant students on the course could literally ‘warm up’ but also explore different styles of movement. The picture to the right shows course participants in one of the classes.

The timetable for the rest of each day was split between Rhythmics, Aural Training and Improvisation with the last session of the afternoon devoted to ‘Applications of Dalcroze Eurhythmics’ which included presentations on how Rhythmics had been integrated in primary schools, how Dalcroze principles can be used in smaller spaces, for example, for those instrumental teachers working in small spaces and my own presentation which explained how rhythmics sessions can benefit those living with dementia.

The last afternoon comprised a ‘Show and Tell’ session during which we also heard a performance by Katherine Smith on clarinet which was her Licence Performance exam. She also performed her Solo Plastique, another of her Licence exams.

And my impressions of Australia when not teaching? Well, clichéd though it may sound, all the Australians I met, while travelling and those I met working in shops and restaurants, were very friendly and helpful. I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Sydney after the course, to visit family and then to Perth, where I was thrilled to spend time with Dalcroze friends, including Dr Joan Pope, who is well-known by Dalcrozians as an outstanding teacher of the method. The other outstanding impression of Australia is that it is BIG….very very BIG. I was driven from Melbourne to Sydney and though the two cities look close on a map, the drive is around 12 hours! The flight from Sydney to Perth was nearly 5 hours.

To finish – I wish to give heart-felt thanks to the committee of Dalcroze Australia, firstly for inviting me to teach and secondly for the superb organisation of the course. It went very smoothly and was a real joy. I wish Dalcroze Australia all good wishes for its aim to introduce more people to Dalcroze and the best of luck with its training programme.

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