Our son is six years old and in first grade. I've noticed that whenever he hears music, his first reaction is to move his body - to wiggle, clap, stomp and dance on the table. As a veteran public school music teacher, this made me think. I've noticed that my students do the same things at school when they hear music - with the exception of dancing on the table. I can’t allow that. In a nutshell, they want to move to the music. It’s as natural as breathing.
Swiss composer, musician and music educator, Emile Jaques-Dalcroze (1865-1950) noticed that children naturally want to move to music as well. After many years of research, teaching and study, he developed a system of learning and experiencing music through movement. He called it "Eurhythmics" - a term later borrowed by pop singer, Annie Lennox of "Here Comes the Rain Again." The Dalcroze Method of Eurhythmics turns the body itself into a musical instrument. Dalcroze felt that this was the best path to generating a solid, vibrant musical foundation. I believe he was correct, but would argue that Eurhythmics doesn't turn the body into a musical instrument, but rather, allows the body to be the musical instrument that it naturally is already.
This brings me to my point. We should use a three-pronged approach to teaching music - even classical music. It should involve intellectual, emotional and physical components. Unfortunately, when we teach classical music, we sometimes tend to emphasize the intellectual and emotional aspects, but we downplay and even discourage the physical aspect. We emphasize listening - sitting still and listening - and nothing could be more unnatural. Certainly, there is much to be gained from careful listening, but there is also much to be gained from moving to music as well, most importantly the joy it brings!
So, the next time you're listening to music on Classical 94.5 WNED, move to the music as well – air conduct, wiggle, clap, stomp and even dance on the table!