Dalcroze Eurhythmics | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Dalcroze Eurhythmics

Dalcroze Eurhythmics. A method of music education using body movement.

Dalcroze Eurhythmics

Dalcroze Eurhythmics. A method of music education using body movement.

Dalcroze Eurhythmics was developed by the Swiss composer-teacher Émile Jaques-Dalcroze (1865-1950) and achieved widespread influence in the 20th century.


After studying in Paris and Vienna with Fauré and Bruckner, Jaques-Dalcroze became fascinated with rhythm during a year spent in Algiers directing a small theatre orchestra. During the 1890s he searched for ways to help his students at the Geneva Conservatory to listen and respond more accurately. Experimenting with exercises incorporating walking and breathing, beating time, gesture, and improvisation, he encouraged the idea that music comes from the original instrument, the human body. Jaques-Dalcroze and his colleagues eventually explored lunging, skipping, pulling a partner, carrying an imaginary weight, and many other ways of involving the whole body in the experience of music.

Dalcroze Eurhythmics in North America

Dalcroze Eurhythmics remains in use as a method of teaching music and movement. It has influenced many other methods of music education. Unfortunately Jaques-Dalcroze's ideas have been largely diluted and, with so few qualified Dalcroze teachers, have not always been well applied. The Dalcroze Society of America (DSA) remained an active association of American and Canadian Dalcroze educators in the early part of the twenty-first century, at which time there was no official Canadian affiliation with DSA and no active Canadian Dalcroze society.

Sir Ernest MacMillan endorsed Dalcroze Eurhythmics as "one of the best means of learning to live music, of developing concentration and physical grace, and of illuminating the study of musical form" (Globe and Mail, 1998).

Canadian Teachers of Dalcroze Eurhythmics

The first teacher of Dalcroze Eurhythmics in Canada was Madeleine Boss Lasserre (b Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 5 Oct 1901; died Toronto 17 Aug 1998). After studying with Jaques-Dalcroze in Geneva, Lasserre arrived in Canada in 1924 and began to teach in 1925 at the Margaret Eaton School, Toronto, in the physical education and drama departments. In 1927 she joined the Toronto Conservatory of Music (Royal Conservatory of Music), where she taught eurhythmics, solfège, and improvisation for more than 50 years. An association was formed to sponsor demonstrations (the first, in Convocation Hall, University of Toronto, 29 Mar 1928) by students and guest artists such as Paul Boepple, who at that time directed the Dalcroze School in New York. Lasserre taught many generations of Dalcroze educators until her retirement in 1977, including dancer-choreographer Saida Gerrard; pianist Donald Himes; Donna Wood (b Donna Jean Roblin, Saskatoon 4 Aug 1920, d Kitchener, Ont 10 Oct 2007), an international leader in early childhood music education; and artists Temma Gentles and Tim Jocelyn.

In 1934 approval was given for Lasserre's students to earn elementary certificates through the New York school. In more recent years Canadians such as Donald Himes (Royal Conservatory of Music) and Louise Mathieu (Laval University) pursued advanced qualifications at the Institut Jaques-Dalcroze in Geneva. Mathieu obtained a Diplome superieur de la methode Jaques-Dalcroze in 1976. In 2003 Mathieu was nominated as a member of the College of the Institut Jaques Dalcroze. Dalcroze teachers trained in England such as Brenda Beament, Joan Raeside, and Elizabeth Morton introduced Dalcroze Eurhythmics in a variety of schools, conservatories, and universities across Canada. The Dalcroze Society of Canada was for many years based at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, where it continued to sponsor workshops and events several times each year. The library of the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, holds a substantial number of original publications of Dalcroze materials.

Canadian Teacher Training Centres

By 2004 many universities and colleges in Canada, including Laval University, the University of Toronto and the University of Alberta, offered Dalcroze Eurhythmics as a required course for students working toward a degree in music. Institut Studea Musica and Laval University jointly offered an introductory program in Dalcroze Eurhythmics, but this course was not designed to train Dalcroze teachers. The Royal Conservatory of Music and Ryerson University offered a joint two-level Dalcroze program for teachers in early childhood music education.

Further Reading