A conceptual discussion of embodiment in special music education: Dalcroze Eurhythmics as a case — Sanna Kivijärvi, Katja Sutela & Riikka Ahokas

Ειδικό Τεύχος 8 (2) 2016 “Η Ρυθμική Dalcroze στη μουσικοθεραπεία και την ειδική μουσική παιδαγωγική” – Article (published on 11 December 2016)

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A conceptual discussion of embodiment in special music education: Dalcroze Eurhythmics as a case

Sanna Kivijärvi, Katja Sutela & Riikka Ahokas


Students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) have difficulties in learning, perception and communication that often pose challenges for participation in traditionally organised music lessons with instruments. Embodied approaches to music education concentrate on utilising body movements to create and enhance learning. As embodied musical activities are drawn from the personal experiences of the students, it is possible to meet the diverse needs of learners efficiently. In this article, we provide introductory remarks on the conceptual content and sphere of embodiment in the context of special music education. We use Dalcroze Eurhythmics as an example, as it is deeply grounded in embodied music making and has a long history of being applied in this area.


embodiment, special music education, special educational needs, Dalcroze Eurhythmics


Sanna Kivijärvi is a doctoral candidate at the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki (Finland). She has an interdisciplinary training background with an emphasis in special education, music education and sociology. Sanna is engaged in various international academic research projects that focus on music education with students who have special support needs. Her research interests focus on the ways in which music education can advance equity and social justice at all levels of society.
Email: sanna.kivijarvi@uniarts.fi

Katja Sutela is a doctoral candidate and part-time university lecturer at the University of Oulu (Finland), teaching music and movement and special music education. She has taught music to children with SEN in a special school for ten years. Among her research interests are embodiment, special education, narrative inquiry and the relationship between music education methods and pedagogical thinking. Katja is currently undertaking a PhD regarding the development of agency in bodily musical interactions with children who have SEN.
Email: katja.sutela@oulu.fi

Riikka Ahokas is a music teacher who has specialised in music and movement. She has strong working experience in the field of special music education, especially with students who have autism spectrum disorders. Currently Riikka works with students and children with, for example, reading and/or other language-related difficulties. She is conducting her PhD research in music education at the University of Jyväskylä (Finland).
Email: ahoriik@student.jyu.fi