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DaCapo's dynamic music education programme draws on the methods of Kodaly and of Dalcroze Eurhythmics.
Zoltan Kodaly (1882–1967) was a Hungarian music education specialist who believed that being a musician was a broader issue than simply playing an instrument. He stipulated that it was necessary to have a "well-trained intellect, hand and heart." Kodaly developed a musical technique that builds an instinctual as well as academic understanding of the relationships notes have to one another rather than what their fixed position is, i.e., rather than identifying a note as for instance A or B, it is identified by its relationship with the other notes, as for instance the first or second in the scale, (do or re). He began with very young children and followed a logical progression, achieving impressive results. His method lends itself to inclusive, group teaching, which is very much in line with DaCapo’s ethos of learning and sharing music with others.
Emile Dalcroze (1865–1950) was a composer and pianist from Switzerland who developed a system of 'eurhythmics' (literal "good rhythm"), which is movement to music based on the belief that the source of rhythm is in the body. Dalcroze Eurhythmics give a physical experience of music, stimulating a different appreciation and extra dimension from that gained through theory or performance. It offers a tangible experience of abstract concepts, which may then be thoroughly understood and internalised.
The methods of Kodaly and Dalcroze are a natural compliment to one another. Kodaly deals with a cerebral understanding of music, whereas Dalcroze deals with a physical, ‘feeling’ based approach. Kodaly’s method offers a way of naming sounds, giving a simple language to discuss and understand the structure of music. Using Kodaly’s method, new concepts are always approached from a point of understanding.
DaCapo builds from the known into the unknown by building unconscious awareness of each of the elements of music in a logical progression, so that by the time they are made conscious, pupils already have an intuitive understanding of them.
Kodaly’s method also enables the use of simple materials to complex effect. For instance, it is not necessary to be able to play Bach in order to understand or take part in canons, or to be listening to Benjamin Britten in order to recognise and appreciate the effect of moving in parallel motion in two keys at the same time. Using simple material, children can enjoy sophisticated exploration of music from a very early stage, so by the time they come across it in mature music they both recognise it aurally and internally, and understand its construction.
Where DaCapo teaching differs from pure Kodaly is largely in the level of encouragement for musical experimentation and in the use of movement; neither of which are prominent in pure Kodaly. DaCapo’s use of movement is based on the methods of Dalcroze, but adapted. DaCapo uses movement to aid development, concentration, spatial awareness, understanding of the abstract, to support those who are kinesthetic learners and extend the abilities of those who do not have natural kinesthetic ability. Usually if a pupil can express an internal feeling for music through movement there is a good chance they will be able to play it expressively.
DaCapo sessions always take place in a circle and do not use the conventional method of directed learning: instead there is a sense of shared exploration and an emphasis on creative contribution from every participant. Rather than using the translated Hungarian folk songs which are typical Kodaly material we have produced our own material which is child-friendly, humorous and written in the English language (so the rhythm and accent of the music fits the words).
As an organisation DaCapo uses the excellent pedagogical and expressive foundations Kodaly and Dalcroze have to offer, manipulating their methods to suit our own flexible, exploratory style of teaching.