On Saturday mornings for the past fifteen years, the basement of Stony Brook University's music department has resounded with the voices of children singing, clapping, jumping in the air, and laughing as Dorothea Cook leads them through their weekly Dalcroze Eurhythmics class. Seated at the piano, “Miss Deede” says: "Listen to my music. When I play in a major key, move to the music freely. When it switches to minor, find a partner and clap along with my pattern."
This quick reaction game, challenging students to listen and respond to key musical elements, is characteristic of exercises Swiss composer Émile Jaques-Dalcroze designed for music students at the Geneva Conservatory in the late 19th century. Over 100 years later, the pedagogy Dalcroze developed and called, "Eurhythmics" (meaning"good rhythm"), is taught at music schools and conservatories all over the world to students of all ages.
Miss Deede's most enthusiastic fans are parents who are also faculty of Stony Brook's music department. They enroll their children in her classes and watch her teach. Dr. Jamuna Samuel, a music theorist, and her husband, music historian Dr. Mauro Calgagno had this to say about Ms. Cook's teaching:
“Dorothea Cook is a gem in our midst and has been one of the best things about our lives here at Stony Brook. Week after week, I have been mesmerized by what she does, and often moved to tears by the magic in her teaching (a magic that I think I can perceive and appreciate more than most, given my background in theory). It's a magic acquired over years of training and experience, combined with a deep understanding of music, raw talent, a strong interpersonal manner to lead a classroom and create a disciplined, focused but fun environment that is full of love.”