SRU music majors leading eurhythmics activities for Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concerts

Children sitting in circle

Slippery Rock University's Cassandra Eisenreich, instructor of music, leads a eurhythmics class for students from the Butler County Children's Center. Eisenreich and a group of SRU music majors will lead eurhythmics activities for children who attend upcoming Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concerts.

Oct. 17, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - For musicians of a certain age, the opportunity to collaborate with Eurythmics means working with the British duo known for their hit song "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)." However, the "eurhythmics," as in the musical pedagogy of Dalcroze Eurhythmics, is a hit with Slippery Rock University students who get to collaborate with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Through a partnership with the PSO, students from the SRU Music Department are leading eurhythmics activities with children and their families who attend the PSO's Fiddlesticks family concert series, Oct. 21, Feb. 10 and May 12 at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh.

Eurhythmics, an approach used to teach music to students that was developed in the early 20th century by Swiss musician and educator Émile Jaques-Dalcroze, is being used by Cassandra Eisenreich, music instructor at SRU.

"It's music in movement," said Eisenreich, who was contacted by the PSO to facilitate the eurhythmics activities based on her expertise with the technique. "We take natural movements that are part of children's natural play and we improvise music that goes along with those movements to create a joyful experience that is based on exploration and discovery."

Prior to each Fiddlesticks concert, children and their families will rotate through 10-minute eurhythmics sessions led by SRU students as part of Discovery Time Adventures that get concert goers familiar with the music they will hear during the show.

For example, if the PSO is playing "In the Hall of the Mountain King," an SRU student might play it on a keyboard in the tempo of the children's movements.

"Their interpretation of the directive will influence the way that I play," said Chase Upchurch, a junior dual major in music education and music therapy-voice from Titusville. "The coolest thing about eurhythmics is it's all improvisatory. You might come in with this huge session planned and none of it happens the way you expected."

Upchurch and Eisenreich will lead the sessions with approximately six additional SRU music majors assisting. Upchurch is taking a class at Carnegie Mellon University to become certified in Dalcroze Eurhythmics, a distinction that Eisenreich already achieved.

Eisenreich also volunteers her time once a week in leading a eurhythmics class at SRU for preschool students from Butler County Children's Center, which does not have a formal music program.

Eisenreich saw the involvement with the PSO as an excellent opportunity to get SRU students involved.

"It gives our students an opportunity to work directly with the early childhood and elementary age groups and explore the ideas they have to implement at that age level," Eisenreich said. "It's a win-win on so many levels. It's exciting for me to step back and watch our students take ownership and be a part of this. They are extremely passionate and driven and always wanting to get involved."

"We're going to be able have concrete examples on our resumes and portfolios that say we collaborated with a very prestigious symphony with something that is outside of our education," Upchurch added. "On a personal level, having these memories and experiencing these opportunities with kids and their families really helps our confidence and working in the field. It reassures why you're doing what you're doing in school and the effect you can have on children. You can see it in their faces, in their movement and their laughter."

For more information about the PSO Fiddlesticks concerts, visit https://pittsburghsymphony.org/pso_home/web/fiddlesticks-17-18/.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 | justin.zackal@sru.edu