In 1892, 27-year-old Émile Jaques-Dalcroze received an appointment to the Geneva Conservatory of Music as Professor of Harmony and Solfège. There he began a journey to uncover a pedagogy based on listening and dedicated to connecting music’s physical sensations to music theory, form, and structure.

The methodology described in this chapter comes directly from the writings of Dalcroze and the instruction disseminated by his first-generation students. He developed the didactics at the turn of the last century during his tenure at the Geneva Conservatory. As a young pedagogue, Dalcroze set out to remedy the pupil’s lack of aural skills, reduced sense of rhythm, and scarcity of creative expression. During this period, educators and artists, in general, were looking back to ancient Greece for inspiration for a purer form of self-expression, where the body played a more significant role in the development of the human being. Keeping in line with the prevailing philosophy of his time, Dalcroze looked toward the human body for answers. Through his experiments, he came to believe in a deep connection between sound and its physical experience, leading to the fundamental precept that all parameters of music should be taught through embodiment. This philosophy was revolutionary and groundbreaking for its time and began to garner interest within pedagogical circles.

The basic tenets of Dalcroze’s method remain unchanged since its inception. Students learn musical concepts through experiencing them by moving the body in space. Pitch, harmony, and rhythm are integral and inseparable components of the musical experience, and improvisation is an essential part of the teaching and learning processes.

This chapter describes these basic tenets and their modern expression. It further explores the relevance of the Dalcrozian philosophy and its manifestations in contemporary aural-skills curricula.