8 Tips to CONNECT Your Dance Students to MUSIC | Bachata Teaching Tips

8 Tips to CONNECT Your Dance Students to MUSIC | Bachata Teaching Tips

January 21, 2020 8 By Stanley Isaacs


Hi, I’m Adam Taub, and this video is for Bachata
dance teachers or dance teachers of other genres as well. I’m going to be focusing on ways that we can
connect our students to the music. I think intuitively we all understand how
fundamental and how essential music is to the dance experience, but a lot of times when
planning a class, or even when dancing, music gets put to the side. As some of you know I’ve done a lot of documentary
film work with Bachata musicians. I also teach dance classes but my real, deep,
introduction to Bachata music and dance was really through documentary film work with
Bachata musicians. In some ways that connection came first for
me. That connection with the music is fundamental
and so important for dancers. So, I want to give you some ideas on ways
you might enhance your student’s relationship with the music over the course of an hour
dance class or perhaps over the course of a series, depending how much time you have
with them. So, something we can do to enhance our student’s
connection with the music actually begins before the class even starts and that’s
during the planning phase of the class. So, I would say spend more time selecting
and thinking about the music you are going to use in your class, before the class actually
starts. You want to choose appropriate music for the
level of class in terms of tempo, also the age group you are teaching to. Maybe they connect with one musician or a
certain sound, or era of Bachata more than the others, so that’s one thing to consider,
is my music appropriate for the class I am teaching. In addition, you really want to pick music
that you are also passionate about, that you are excited to hear and excited to teach to,
because that in turn will translate to your students, that excitement, that passion. You also want to be able to select music that
is diverse in terms of tempo, emotion, feeling, in terms of artists presented, and in terms
of sound, the era. Maybe you are using newer stuff for the majority
of the class, but you throw in some music from the 90’s or from the 70’s, or 80’s. Just exposing your students is a real important
part of even a dance workshop, is exposing people to diverse music, to different sounds. That way they have a richer experience when
they go out social dancing, or they go out into the world, because they have these relationships
with diverse music. So that’s a really important part of the
class. Another way to connect them is throughout
the class point out different ways they might listen to or hear the music. You might point out particular sounds, or
instruments, or relationships between instruments. You might point out the vocals or the lyrics,
the lead guitar, or the bass. Encourage your students to listen. Also, within the class, give them a space
where they can just dance or listen. Where they don’t always have to be “performing”
or “doing” a technique. Where they are not always in their head but
able to just experience it, and enjoy themselves, and enjoy the music. Another thing I would say, and this is pretty
easy to do throughout a dance class is mention song title, mention the artist name. Your class may not be a Bachata musicality
class and it may not be a class that focuses on Bachata music, but throughout your class
you can, before you turn on the song say a little bit about it. You can say the name of the song, even if
they don’t remember it you are giving importance by mentioning the artist name and by mentioning
the song title, you are telling your students this is important. The music we are dancing to is important. So, mention the artists name, mention the
song title if you can, and make that a habit, and that will help reinforce to your students
that this connection to the music is fundamental, it’s important. Another thing you can do is offer them resources,
either online, on your website, or your social media, or even within the class. You could have a poster with the song titles,
and artists that you use that they could then take a photo of. They could take those music suggestions home
with them. You could have a poster of the music, either
that you use in class or you could have a poster that you would recommend them to practice
to that they can take a quick photo, that doesn’t use paper, and then they will be able
to find music. A lot of times when we are starting off in
a genre as dancers we don’t know who to look for. You might also create a blog post, or social
media post about the music you use in your classes and in your workshops, so students
can check back and that also connects them with your courses. So, for this next tip, it’s pretty straight
forward, just make sure if you can, USE music within your classes. Certainly, there are some technique classes
where you may use less music within the class. But a lot of times when students go to a dance
class, they are really craving that connection with music, that’s what they want. Many times, when we plan a dance class the
majority of the time is we are working on a technique or working on something without
music involved and that can at times, sometimes that’s appropriate, but at times it can
leave a student wanting more. Saying “where is the music?” It’s such an essential part of it, so make
sure you give ample time to practice or work on techniques and steps with music in the
class. Another tip involves sound quality. Now this is something we don’t always have
control over as dance teachers. Maybe we are teaching in a studio where it’s
our first time and we have very little control over it. But for me as for someone who is a music lover
it’s always been important to at least try to attain a certain level of sound quality
and also volume. Sometimes we can’t have this. Sometimes we have to teach a class just using
our laptop or we can’t get something to work and we have to adapt, or we have to use small
speakers. But if you can, take that time to try and
figure out before what the space is like, what is the sound system like, what are the
connections like, and work on that sound quality to the best of your ability. That is going to enhance your enjoyment of
the class, and also your students. If they can hear the bass clearly, if they
can hear the treble or the high end, if they can hear all these instruments, that really
makes the class that much better. It’s important. We know when social dancing that within a
club or in a space dancing how important audio quality is to the experience. Being able to really hear the song, hear the
words. That’s important in a dance class too. That importance you place on the sound quality
and on the music will also transfer to your students. So, in addition, something that dance teachers
need to do, in order for your dance students to connect to the music, you also need to
give importance to it. I know that when we are planning and teaching,
sometimes it feels like you have enough time to really nurture that love or that relationship
you had with the music your teaching or dance, so I would really encourage you to take the
time and just listen, put it on some head phones or when you are driving. Be around the music when you are not working,
so when you are not planning a performance, or a choreography, or when you are not planning
a class. Just expose yourself and give yourself that
gift of musical enjoyment as well because that will transfer as well to your students. Continue to learn. So, if there are presentations, or if you
have a chance to see musicians live, or see documentary films about the music. That is going to enhance, not only your connection,
but you are then going to have this grouping of stories that you can then bring into your
dance class. I love bringing in stories that I have with
different musicians, whether its filming a documentary with Joan, or interviewing Luis
Segura. I bring those experiences and stories into
the class. I don’t necessarily have it planned out or
scripted, but as the song I’m using comes on it reminds me of a story, and I bring it
up and share it with the students. You want to make it personal, and the more
experience you have, and the more you can learn, the more you can bring that in. So those are just a few tips that you might
use to connect your students to the music more to give them a deeper connection to the
music throughout your dance class. If you have ideas, or if you have techniques
that you use in your class that you would like to share with us and recommend I would
love to hear them in the comments below and we can continue this conversation.