Rhythms activities encourage students to develop their physical skills through creative impulse and body awareness as well as providing an arena for challenging skills, proficiency and prowess. Through musicality and the sheer joy of moving children are given the opportunity to galvanize the important building blocks needed for the whole person to grow and explore.
1) Gross Motor Activities — ‘natural’ movements (rolling, crawling, swimming, jumping, walking, and running) and ‘learned’ movements (skipping, tumbling, cartwheels).
2) Musical Awareness — movement to the music from around the world, but especially classical music.
3) Perceptual Skills — interaction with materials such as balls, hoops, ropes, et al.
4) Group Dynamics and Physical Dialogue — communicating with others through all the senses.
5) Dramatics and Making Dances — exercising inspiration, inventiveness, and creativity.
6) Relaxation — Learning the skill of being still and giving in to the forces of gravity. Listening.
The Rhythms Program at Marlboro Elementary School:
Talk and Slideshow at Marlboro School Board September 2016
By Kate Tarlow Morgan, M.A., Registered Movement Therapist, Certified Somatic Educator
There is a new book out called Balance and Barefoot, by Angela Hascom. In it she writes,
“Unrestricted freedom of movement is vital for children’s cognitive and physical development and growth.”
Although, Ms. Hascom is not a Rhythms Teacher, her statement matches a goal for Rhythms, which is to protect this “freedom of movement.” This goal, discovered by educators almost 100 years ago, lies somewhere between the activities of Recess and Phys Ed., but isn’t quite either one. For example: in PE, you learn to play with a ball on a team; at Recess you just play. In Rhythms, you play with a ball to music, and are free to explore all the things a ball can do, alone and/or with others.
About 60 years ago, there was group of scientists who figured out that different parts of the brain controlled different kinds of movement. For example, if you crawl on your belly like a salamander, you are using your cerebellum (low brain), but if you swing a baseball bat, you are using your cortex (high brain).
The science of this is that you need your low brain to use your high brain. It has been proven that reading difficulties and other learning challenges can often be remedied by moving through these low and high brain activities—otherwise called “developmental movement patterns.”
The significance of these discoveries is that children need freedom of movement to support control of movement, and as a result, to “develop.” In addition, children need creative space to support cognitive space, and as a result, to “grow.” That is how development works!
Rhythms (and the Rhythms’ “Fundamentals”) founded by Miss Ruth Doing in 1922 at the City and Country School, emerged out of a history of ideas from late 19th/early 20th c. concepts of the Physical Culture Movement—health, prowess and expressivity—co-joined with the Progressive Education Movement and social reform.
Today, Rhythms provides some of this essential “gear” children need to get from school, providing a supportive “chassis” of skills that they will carry with them their whole lives.
Kate Tarlow Morgan, New York City-born choreographer and somatic educator teaches Rhythms, Body-Mind Centering™, Ideokinesis, and Awareness-through-the-Body in schools, clinics and studios. Kate has is presently working on creating a Rhythms Archive going back to the 1920s. As a somatic/movement writer, she is Editor-in-chief of Currents Journal for the Body-Mind Centering Association and editorial consultant for The Lost & Found Poetics Document Initiative at C.U.N.Y-Center for Humanities. She is the author of Circles and Boundaries (Factory Press 2011) and co-editor of Movement and Experience: A Body-Mind Centering Anthology, (North Atlantic Press 2011). Her dance/performance work premiers at Gloucester Writers Center, Trident Gallery in Gloucester, Ma, Windhover Dance Theater in Rockport, Ma., and Mole Hill Theater in Alstead, N.H.