The first week of the Dalcroze course is nearly finished. There are about 30 people taking the course with 6-8 people in the advanced group and the rest in the beginning. The numbers are a bit variable because the groups are fluid and people move around a fair bit. We start in the morning with eurhythmics- which is movement with music. Then we do solfege- ear training and singing, lunch, and improvisation. Te last 45minutes of the day we are all together and do classroom examples or sample lesson plans.
I've been in the advanced group which has been alternately lovely and frustrating. Some times the advanced class has wandered off on tangents where we argue for ages about whether or not a certain chord/pitch/etc. really counts as one thing or if it would be this other thing and if so what other contexts you might see that in blah blah blah. I follow it- but only theoretically and I don't get excited about it.
That being said- today during improvisation I was totally giddy. The homework was to build a "secundo" or second part of a piano duet- so the chords below the melody. I spent about two hours playing around on the piano yesterday and *finally* have a practical and aural understanding of plagal cadences. I've really been working in my own practice time on making musical phrases and then figuring out away from the piano (and without intellectualizing it) where the music wants to go. It's been fantastic. Like I said, after how many years of schooling? I'm starting to have a practical understanding of how the music fits together and what all that means. Super exciting. I want more.
I love the solfege and ear training aspects of Dalcroze. It works so well for me and helps with learning things that I have always wanted to understand and struggled with. Ann Farber, the teacher that I've been working with the most- is a small, feisty, gray haired woman. When you don't understand what is going on- all of her intensity focuses on you and her voice gets louder. When I first encountered her at Longy I thought she was terrifying and mean, but by the end of those three weeks two years ago she was my favorite teacher and the main reason I came to this course in NYC. She's yelling at you- but in order to make sure that you really understand. And once you do? The biggest smile ever. She's awesome and makes me laugh. And she keeps choosing me to do the exercises that scare me to death. Isn't she sweet?
So- I'm writing lots of melodies, learning how the fit together, and mostly ignoring the lesson plans and classroom things because it turns out that that is the least interesting aspect of dalcroze eurhythmics for me. I'm not terribly interested in becoming a dalcroze teacher for small children- but I'm VERY interested in how their teaching process can help me with ear training, understanding phrases, general musicality, composition, musical structure, musical cohesion, and basically lots of compositional tools.
I'm having fun.