3/22/2012 0 Comments
Let's clear the air, shall we? The purpose of a group lesson isn't really to teach you to dance. Sorry to burst that bubble. A group lesson is to help you fall in love with a dance, so you find a way to take private lessons. Private lessons are where you really learn to dance.
That said, my favorite instructors incorporate a bit of technique in their group classes for those few devoted students who actually care. It's not as easy as it looks, because the glaze is so thick over the eyes of the students who don't care, instructors sometimes get lost in it, never to be seen or heard from again. I try to fight the good fight, but teaching technique to a large number of people is next to impossible. Technique is best absorbed when you can physically move the student's body.
I don't write this to pump up my teaching schedule - though, let's be honest, I wouldn't be mad if that happened - I write this because people often confess frustrations to me that they don't feel any improvement, even though they come to every lesson. Let me throw a little perspective your way. A weekly lesson is 45 minutes long. A day is 24 hours. A week is 168 hours. How is one 45 minute blip, out of that many hours, even supposed to cause a dent?
But Allison, I dance after the lesson, too. For how many hours? One... two, max. It's not enough to see or feel real improvement. Dance is like any sport. If you took up golf and only played for three hours a week, how quickly would you get better? If you're answering, "pretty quickly", you're lying to yourself. A lot of life happens in that other 165 hours to help you forget what you learned in a 45 minute lesson.
Dance is muscle memory. You have to train your muscles so your mind can take a back seat. To thoroughly train your muscles, you have to repeat the combo you learned - I like to say - 30 times. If you didn't "master" the whole combo during class, just do the part you learned. It's better to lead half a combo correctly than a whole combo desperately.
We all know the saying, "Practice makes perfect." Let me burst that bubble, too. (Wow, two weeks ago I loved bubbles, now look at me?!;) In truth, practice makes permanent. So if you practice it wrong, you'll do it wrong. Trust me, I play a hideous "Moonlight Sonata" because I was young and impatient when I "learned" it.
My Tae-Kwon-Do instructor used to tell us "Perfect practice makes perfect." Unfortunately, in a group setting, you don't get perfect practice. You get to meet a lot of dancers, be introduced to a new pattern, and hopefully have a few laughs.
For the record, I am in no way dissing group classes! I love teaching group classes - (of course, I'm a middle child, so it's probably in part due to my hunger for attention;). But they're vital to the survival of dance. Most everyone starts in a group class. I know I did. I still remember what we learned, and that was 14 years ago... talk about a great instructor!!
So keep enjoying your group classes. It's where you get addicted. Then, when you want to go to that next level of understanding dance, find a way to take private lessons. I know dance is expensive - why do you think I became an instructor?! A seven-time champion dancer once said, "Always remember your students are smarter than you. They can afford lessons. You can't!" True. True.
But there are ways to make it work. You can take half lessons. Or you can find a small group of friends who want to get together and take a private group (this is super fun, by the way!) so the instructor still has a chance to give everyone a little one on one time. Or if all else fails, call the instructor and see if you can work something out. I sometimes do lessons on trade.
Again, my goal isn't to boost my roster... it's to get the world addicted to dancing! You can call any instructor. Just don't be frustrated by the "group class plateau" if you've stopped retaining information. Change. Adapt. Overcome. See you on the hardwood!
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Allison loves to write almost as much as she loves to dance, so no one had to twist her arm to get her to write about dancing!
All Dr.Seuss Life's A Dance Oh The Places You'll Go See You On The Hardwood