Eurhythmics, Aging Elders, and Falls


Link to video @ YouTube.

In light of my most recent post (April 23, 2013) about the effect of music during my parents’ Bible study sessions, I am reposting this blog post describing an article about music, eurhythmics, and elders.

How interesting to read about the research Effect of Music-Based Multitask Training on Gait, Balance, and Fall Risk in Elderly People (abstract), an article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The article is not freely available from the medical journal, so to read it you will need to speak with a librarian or go to a hospital library.

The article points out that most seniors’ falls occur when people are performing concurrent tasks and that “each year more than a third of the population 65 years and older experiences at least one fall.” The  Swiss medical researchers wondered whether participation in a music-based program involving concurrent tasks of movement and music might have a positive effect on the factors that can cause a fall — gait and balance — thereby reducing the frequency of falls.

The music activity they chose for their research is eurhythmics, a program of music education that combines music and movement, developed by composer Emile Jaques-Dalcroze in Geneva in the early 20th century. Not surprisingly, at least not from my perspective as a college music major and life-long very amateur musician, people who participated in six months of Dalcroze eurhythmics reduced both the rate and the risk of falling by the end of the program compared to a control group that did not take the class but carried on with life as usual. When the control group subsequently took the class for six months, the researchers found the same results.

A November 22, 2010 Reuters Health article, Music Based Exercise Class Cuts Seniors’ Fall Risk by reporter Amy Norton, comprehensively covers this research, and in the article she describes a bit about what an exercise class might be like.

A class typically involves improvised piano music, with participants adapting their movements to the music’s rhythmic changes. In the current study, the classes started off simply — by having participants walk in time to the music — then gradually became more challenging over time. Besides footwork, participants sometimes had to perform upper-body movements or work with some object, like a percussion instrument or a ball, while moving.

How many people have ever heard about the Dalcroze methods? Quite a few, actually, though most of them are musicians or parents of young musicians who take Dalcroze classes as a part of their musical training. According to the Dalcroze Society of America, “… the Dalcroze approach teaches an understanding of music’s fundamental concepts, expressive meanings, and deep connections to other arts and activities. Performers, teachers, dancers, actors, children, and senior citizens can all benefit from this approach which incorporates rhythmic movement, aural training and improvisation.”

Here’s a video of adults participating in a Dalcroze class.

3 thoughts on “Eurhythmics, Aging Elders, and Falls

  1. Pingback: A Matter of Communication | My Musical Talent

  2. Pingback: Falls, Falls, and More Falls for Older Adults – NY Times Article | As Our Parents Age

  3. Great post! This is definitely something I will recommend to my readers. As we age, we need to be keenly aware of how our bodies change, as does what our bodies require as far as physical activity. My website specializes in fitness, which applies differently to seniors than it does to millennials, but is just as important. Thanks again!


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