Kathryn Kay: Reflections on upcoming ICDS5

Kathryn Kay Photo.JPG

As I write at the end of September 2021, I have recently returned to teaching whole classes live in my position at the Royal College of Music, London. The feelings of joy, of unison, of silence, and deep connection are once again filling my studio in such a real and palpable way. However, after 18 months online, perhaps now is a good time to reflect on the positives of teaching digitally. Despite the challenges and working alone, my students have spoken of the continued fun, and how they valued the chance to explore and develop their musicianship in their own homes. Parents too have thanked me for creating a lovely learning environment, and for getting into the minds of the children and being on their wavelength, even through a screen. 

In March 2020, when lockdown started, I admit to having been very unsure about how Eurhythmics would work online, but the voice of Dalcroze himself was strong in my head, encouraging me to be creative, to consider the emotional needs of my students during this difficult time and to find new ways of helping them own their musicality. Peer support and inspiration from Dalcroze colleagues was an absolute lifeline for me, shrinking the feelings of isolation, both professional and personal. An added highlight was connecting and learning from practitioners from many different countries, through regular online masterclasses, courses and meetings. What a joy to be a student in some wonderful classes from highly experienced Dalcrozians, from my own living room! 

In a month the ICDS5 will be live - I have a sense of excitement about the conference. I haven’t been able to attend before, but I feel a growing anacrusis towards a global meeting of music, ideas, creativity and reflection. Having read through all the conference presentations, I am looking forward to being inspired in new and interesting ways. I am honoured to have been given a space to share a little of my teaching story, of how my pupils grew and interacted with my curriculum during the pandemic. I look forward to meeting many of you. 


This presentation is an overview of my approach to teaching Dalcroze Eurhythmics (DE) to children during the COVID-19 pandemic. I will discuss how I adapted my methods and delivery, the changing needs of the children, and how having my own children at home inspired new creativity.

I teach for the Junior Department of the Royal College of Music (RCM), London and for Sparks, the RCM’s learning and participation programme. Sparks aims to increase access to music-making for local young people and families. I teach three- to five-year-olds in partner primary schools including children from diverse backgrounds, many of whom receive free school meals. Children who show particular interest are invited to Sparks Juniors at the RCM on Saturdays where they learn instruments alongside their DE and other creative musicianship classes. I also train interested RCM undergraduates who assist in my lessons as mentors.

The presentation will show some of the creative adaptations I have made, including:

• More opportunities for pupil improvisation on instruments

• Use of visual inspiration, from art, nature and the everyday

• Use of the frame of the screen

• ‘Listening Journeys’, a series of pre-recorded music and mindfulness videos created for younger children to work through with their teachers when I could not be present.

I consider the need to think deeply about how Dalcroze can be used to integrate the whole body, mind, emotions, and understanding of the self in a time when children are locked down at home and isolated, as well as potentially less physically active.

This practical presentation includes movement activities. If you would like to participate, please come appropriately dressed and give yourself some space to move in.

*This abstract comes from the complete lecture which will be given during the upcoming ICDS5.