Émile Jaques-Dalcroze

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Émile Jaques-Dalcroze

Émile Jaques-Dalcroze (July 6, 1865 – July 1, 1950) was a Swiss composer, musician and music educator who developed eurhythmics, a method of learning and experiencing music through movement. (The influence of eurhythmics can be seen in Orff Schulwerk pedagogy, common in public school music education throughout the United States.)[citation needed]

The Dalcroze Method involves teaching musical concepts through movement. A variety of movement analogues is used for musical concepts, to develop an integrated and natural feel for musical expression. Turning the body into a well-tuned musical instrument, Dalcroze felt, was the best path for generating a solid, vibrant musical foundation. The Dalcroze Method consists of three equally important elements: eurhythmics, solfège, and improvisation.[1] Together, according to Dalcroze, they comprise the essential musicianship training of a complete musician. In an ideal approach, elements from each subject coalesce, resulting in an approach to teaching rooted in creativity and movement.

Dalcroze began his career as a pedagogue at the Geneva Conservatory in 1892, where he taught harmony and solfège. It was in his solfège courses that he began testing many of his influential and revolutionary pedagogical ideas. Between 1903 and 1910, Dalcroze had begun giving public presentations of his method.[2] In 1910, with the help of German industrialist Wolf Dohrn, Dalcroze founded a school at Hellerau, outside Dresden, dedicated to the teaching of his method. Many musicians flocked to Hellerau, among them Prince Serge Wolkonsky, Vera Alvang (Griner), Valeria Cratina, Jelle Troelstra (son of Pieter Jelles Troelstra), Inga and Ragna Jacobi, Albert Jeanneret (Le Corbusier's brother]]), Jeanne de Salzmann, Mariam Ramberg, Anita Berber, and Placido de Montelio. With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the school was abandoned. After the Second World War, his ideas were taken up as "music and movement" in British schools.


Émile Henri Jaques was born in Vienna, in 1865. The name Émile Jaques Dalcroze was later adopted by himself. His mother, Julie Jaques, was a music teacher, so he was in contact with music since his childhood. Naturally, by influence of his mother, Dalcroze formally begun his musical studies still in his early years. When he was 10 years old, his family moved to Geneva, Switzerland, and in 1877 Dalcroze joined the Conservatorie de Musique. He also studied at the College of Geneva, which he did not appreciate.

Dalcroze considered the College as a "prison" where education was basically rules, which were not concerned about the students' interests. In 1881, he was part of Belles-Lettres Literary Society, a students' group dedicated to acting, writing, and performing music in general. At that time, Dalcroze felt more interested in composing. In the year of 1884, he studied composition with Léo Delibes and Gabriel Fauré. Around the same year he was part of the Comedie Francaise. Further on he studied composition with Mahis Lussy, which influenced him in the process of rhythmic development. By the year 1886 he was the assistant conductor in Argelia, where he discovered Arabia's folk music. In contact with this kind of music, Dalcroze noticed that there were different worlds of rhythmic expression, where each of them would require a particular way of writing, as well a unique performance style. Accordingly, he developed a new kind of music notation. In 1887, he went to Conservatory of Vienna, where he studied with Anton Bruckner.

He enrolled at the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève in 1892, but in 1910 he left the Conservatory and established his own school in Hellerau, nearby Dresden. Many great exponents of modern dance in the twentieth century spent time at the school, including Kurt Jooss and Hanya Holm, Rudolf Laban, Maria Rambert, Uday Shankar and Mary Wigman. In 1911, Dalcroze and his students were invited by Prince Sergei Volkonsky to show their work in St. Petersburg and Moscow. He came back to Geneva in 1914 to open a new institute and in 1920 the school was moved to Helleray Laxenburg, near Vienna. However the school was closed by the Nazis. He died in Geneva, on July 1, 1950.

Educational Philosophy[edit]

In his search for a more intense rhythmic experience, Dalcroze posed some questions. First, he questioned why music theory and notation were taught as abstractions, dissociated from sound, movements and feelings that they represented. Moreover, by taking the pianist as an example, he asked how the finger technique taught by professors could be considered a complete musical education. Finally, he was intrigued that the qualities that characterize a real musician were rarely experienced in a music class. Dalcroze believed the first instrument that must be trained in music is the body.

He developed techniques which combined hearing with a physical answer, transferring to a physical response in singing and reading music. He did many experiments with his students, and used these results to help in the process of learning and feeling music. His main goal was to develop the inner ear to facilitate musical thinking, reading and writing music without the help of an instrument. While continuing to build his methodology, he observed his students and noticed that the students who could not play in time in the music world, were able to walk in time in the real world. The walking was completely spontaneous and easy.[3] Later, he observed that some of his best students could tap the beat using their feet, or shake their heads and bodies in response to music. This physical response was natural and common to all ages and cultures.

Moreover, he noticed that students would change their movements when following a crescendo, and would respond physically to the accents of the music. They also relaxed their muscles with the endings of phrases. As they seemed to hear the music, feeling its effects, he concluded that the students themselves were the instruments, not the piano.

The reasons for training rhythm[edit]

Dalcroze noticed that students had a mechanical understanding instead of a musical comprehension. They were not able to hear harmonies that they wrote in the music theory classes, and they could not create simple melodies and chord sequences. In other words, they had a lack of sensitivity which caused problems in the performance. His effort was to find ways to help their students to develop skills of feel more, hear, create, imagine, connect, memorize, reading and writing, as well performance and interpretation in music. He worked in order to free the students from the conflicts between mind and body, feeling and expression.[4]

Dalcroze realized that the aspects of music that are more connected to the senses are the rhythm and the movement. Regarding the three elements of music: pitch, rhythm and dynamic, he recognized that the last two were entirely dependent on the movement. He also found their best models in the muscular system. For him, all degrees of time - tempos - can be experienced, understood and expressed through the body. He felt that the enthusiasm of musical feelings depended on the sharpness of physical sensations. He was convinced that the combination of intense listening and the responses of the body would generate and release a powerful musical force.

The birth of eurhythmics, first experiences and discoveries[edit]

Dalcroze needed a laboratory to test his theories. By working with students, he decided to hire his own workspace. He started to look for principles, teaching strategies, teaching styles and methods that could convert music into a practical educational tool. The principles and methods that they developed were unique and new, so they had given a special name: eurhythmics.[5]

In the beginning, Dalcroze thought that the solution to many problems would be basically teaching musicians to contract and relax in a specific time (the speed of sound or time), in a specific space (the duration of a sound), and with a particular force (energy dynamics of a sound). Thus, he worked on a new series of exercises designed to help students strengthen their perception by the metric and its instincts by many streams of the movement, called rhythm. Then, he began to propose exercises by playing music and suggesting that students walk as they would feel the pulse. Surprisingly, students acted differently and had difficulties in different tempos. Therefore, he deduced that people still had trouble reaching the goal of speed, accuracy, and performance by being rhythmically expressive. He realized that there could be some system of quick communication between the brain, which understand and analyzes, and the muscles that performs - a system to e from the brain, which studies the performance of the body and sends the information to be corrected.

Objectives of the eurhythmics[edit]

1. Mental and Emotional: awareness, concentration, social integration, realization and expression of nuances.

2. Physical: to make the performance easier, to make the performance accurate, to develop personal expressiveness through the performance.

3. Musical: quickness, precision, comfort, expressive personal response to the listening, analysis, writing and improvisation.


In 1905, Dalcroze organized thousands of games and exercises by connecting beautiful music, intense listening, and consciously improvised movement. According to him, the professor must be able to improvise the songs for the activities in the music class.

The motion approached by Dalcroze were: movements, postures and gestures to express the tempo, duration, dynamics, accents, and other elements that produce rhythmic material.[6]

This method approaches three concepts:

Eurhythmics (in Greek means "good rhythm") - Musical expression through movement; developing musical skills through kinetic exercises. The students can learn rhythm and structure by listening to music and expressing what they hear through spontaneous bodily movement.

Solfege (fixed-do) - Helps develop ear-training and sight-singing skills.

Improvisation - Using instruments, movement and voice.

The vocabulary suggested by him was:

In place: palms, swing, turn, drive, bending, swaying, talking, singing.

In space: walking, running, crawling, jumping, sliding, galloping, jumping. Moreover, for each beat, Dalcroze divided the process in: preparation, attack and extension.

Methods and Exercises[edit]


1913, 12 kleine melodische et rhythmische Studien, pour le piano, Simrock, Berlin

1913, 16 plastische Studien, pour le piano, Simrock, Berlin

1920, 20 Caprices and Rhythmic Studies pour le piano, Augener, London 1920

1923, 50 Études miniatures de métrique et rythmique pour le piano, Senart, Paris 1923

10 mehrstimmen Gesange. ohne Worte zu plastischen Studien, Simrock, Berlin

3 Vocalises, Heugel, Paris

6 Exercices pratiques d'intonation, Foetisch, Lausanne

6 Jeux rythmiques pour enfants et adolescents pour le piano, Heugel, Paris

6 petites Pièces en rythmes alternés pour piano, Foetisch, Lausanne

Esquisses rythmiques pour piano, Foetisch, Lausanne

Exercices de disordination pour le piano, Enoch, Paris

La jolie musique, jeux et exercices pour les tout petits (chant), Huguenin, Le Locle

Marches rythmigues, chant et piano, Foetisch, Lausanne

Métrique et rythmique, 200 études pour piano, Lemoine, Paris

Moderne Tonleiterschule (avec R. Ruynemann), Chester, London

Petites Pièces de piano avec instruments à percussion, Enoch, Paris

Rythmes de chant et de danse, piano et chant Heugel, Paris o. J., Heugel. -


Vorschläge zur Reform des musicalischen Schulunterrichts. Gealto Hugurich, 1905

La Rythmique (2 volumes). Foetisch, Lausanne 1906 ; 1918

La portée musicale. Foetisch, Lausanne, sd.

Les gammes et les tonalités, le phrasé et les nuances (3 volumes), Foetisch, Lausanne 1907

La Bonne Chanson. Dans «Gazette Musicale de la Suisse Romande», Genève, 1er novembre 1894

La plastique animée. Foetisch, Lausanne

La respiration et l'innervation musculaire. Foetisch, Lausanne 1907

Le rythme, la musique et l'éducation, Paris 1920 ; 1935 [ Rhythmus, Musik et Erziehung. Benno Schwabe, Basel 1922]

Souvenirs, Notes et critiques. Attinger, Neuchâtel 1942

La Musique et nous. Notes de notre double vie, Éditions Perret-Gentil, Genève 1945

Notes bariolées. Jeheber, Genève 1948

Further reading[edit]


Bachmann, Marie-Laure. Dalcroze Today: an education thttp://www.dalcroze.org.uk/resources/Article%20-%20Anita%201.pdfhrough and into music. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991.

Caldwell, Timothy. Expressive Singing: Dalcroze Eurhythmics for voice. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1995.

Choksy, Louis. Teaching music in the twenty-first century. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2001.

Driver, Ethel. A pathway to Dalcroze eurhythmics New York: T. Nelson and Sons, 1951.

Findlay, Elsa. Rhythm and Movement: applications of Dalcroze Eurhythmics. Florida: Summy-Birchard, 1971.

Mark, Michael L. Contemporary music education. 3 ed. New York: Schirmer Books, 1996.

Vanderspar, Elizabeth. A Dalcroze handbook : principles and guidelines for teaching eurhythmics. London: Roehampton Institute, 1984.


Anderson, William T. “The Dalcroze Approach to Music Education: Theory and Applications,” General Music Today 26, no. 1 (Nov. 2011): 27–33, doi:10.1177/1048371311428979.

Caldwell, Timothy "A Dalcroze perspective on skills for learning," Music Educators Journal 79, no. 7 (1993): 27, http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=3&sid=4e986502-8f98-419b-86c1-ca29138c1cfd%40sessionmgr114&hid=123&bdata=JkF1dGhUeXBlPWlwJnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=aph&AN=9705190621

Vann, Jacqueline "Getting music to move," ABRSM magazine Libretto (Dec. 2003): http://www.dalcroze.org.uk/resources/Article%20-%20Jacqueline%201.pdf

Strevens, Anita "Stepping into music," Primary Music Today 32 (March 2005): http://www.dalcroze.org.uk/resources/Article%20-%20Anita%202.pdf

Strevens, Anita "Music and Moviment for the early ears using Dalcroze Eurythmics," NAME Magazine 22 (March 2007): http://www.dalcroze.org.uk/resources/Article%20-%20Anita%201.pdf


James Lei. "Dalcroze: Eurythmics in Early Modern Theatre and Dance." PH.D. Texas Tech University, 2003


External links[edit]