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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

352              THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

The rhythmic marches on the line should be distinguished
from the gymnastics done on the line which have as its aim to
establish perfect balance and control of movements. These gym-
nastic exercises which consist of so many items (holding a banner
in one hand, a glass of water, a burning candle or carrying a small
basket on the head) require the line traced on the floor to guide
the feet in a certain way. It is this definite direction that makes
it rather difficult to keep balance and hence establishes and
strengthens perfect equilibrium. In these exercises a uniform and
delicate music accompanies the exercise in order to sustain the-
necessary effort to perform it exactly.

When, however, rhythmic exercises are started, the feet should
be free and the line is merely a guide and helps to keep the children
who walk, run, skip, etc. in line. It is then clear too, that passing
on to the performance of dances the line has no reason of existence
any longer, but perhaps to serve as an ornament useful to give a
conscious order to movement.

The technique for the execution of music consists of grasping
a single musical phrase of easy interpretation and repeating it
many times. That is analogous to repeating an exercise. Besides
the two initial contrasting steps specially suited to the little ones,,
there may be chosen and repeated rhythmic musical phrases in
order to develop sensitiveness to music in the children, who have
no other chance of receiving such impressions from the environ-
ment, as happens with colours and visual sensations in general.
By repeating each phrase a very great number of times, some
children between five and six become able to interpret rhythms
which call for movements, slightly dissimilar, such as the slow step,
the marching step, etc. (gradation)*

Some teaching may usefully be given by the mistress in show-
ing the step corresponding to a particular rhythm, as is done in
the lessons when the teacher says, " This is big, this is small,"
However, after such a demonstration has been made, the child
must be left to give his own interpretation of it, that is,
to the recognizing of the same rhythms in different musical