The Dalcroze Method: A Primer

Dance Display
23rd November 1934: Members of the London School of Dalcroze Eurythmics, rehearsing their dance display. Arthur Tanner / Getty Images

The Dalcroze method, also known as Dalcroze Eurhythmics, is another approach music educators use to foster music appreciation, ear-training, and improvisation while improving musical abilities. In this method, the body is the main instrument. Students listen to the rhythm of a music piece and express what they hear through movement. Simply put, this approach connects music, movement, mind, and body.

Who Created This Method?

This method was developed by Emile Jaques-Dalcroze, a Swiss composer, music educator and music theorist who studied with Gabriel Fauré, Mathis Lussy, and Anton Bruckner.

More on Emile Jaques-Dalcroze

Dalcroze was born on July 6, 1865, in Vienna, Austria. He became a professor of harmony at the Geneva Conservatory in 1892, by which time he started developing his method of teaching rhythm through movement, known as eurhythmics. He founded a school in Hellerau, Germany (later moved to Laxenburg) in 1910, and another school in Geneva in 1914, where students learned using his method. Dalcroze died on July 1, 1950, in Geneva, Switzerland. Several of his students, such as ballet teacher Dame Marie Rambert, used eurhythmics and became influential in the development of dance and contemporary ballet during the 20th century.

What Are the Key Elements of the Dalcroze Method?

This method has 3 facets:

  • Eurhythmics (Greek for "good rhythm") - Musical expression through movement; developing musical skills through kinetic exercises. Students learn rhythm and structure by listening to music and expressing what they hear through spontaneous bodily movement. For example, note values and rhythms are represented by stepping and clapping.
  • Solfege (fixed-do) - Helps develop ear-training and sight-singing skills.
  • Improvisation - Using instruments, movement, and voice.

What Is a Typical Lesson Like?

Although it is generally referred to as a method, there is really no set curriculum. Dalcroze himself didn't like his approach to be labeled as a method. Hence, each teacher uses a different approach based on his/her interests, training, and skills while keeping in mind the age, culture, location, and needs of the students.

What Are the Key Concepts Learned?

The Dalcroze Method helps foster imagination, creative expression, coordination, flexibility, concentration, inner hearing, music appreciation and understanding of musical concepts.

What Trainings Are Available to Teach This Method?

  • Dalcroze Certificate - Requires a Bachelor's degree in Music; may teach children.
  • Dalcroze License - Requires a Masters degree in Music; may teach adults.
  • Diplôme - Given after completing studies from the Jaques-Dalcroze Institute in Geneva, Switzerland; may teach other teachers and award certifications.

In the United States, colleges that offer a certificate and license in the Dalcroze Method include Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia College, and the University of Maryland, College Park.

Essential Dalcroze Books

Free Dalcroze Lesson Plans

Additional Information