Say the steps, learn the steps

There are Little Ballerina Dance Recitalsome teachers who have the magic skill of making students understand dance steps with just a moment of explanation. Such is not the case for me. Often, I find myself demonstrating the same step for the millionth time to a sea of blank faces and still feet. This sometimes works with the visual learners. When the music starts, their faces remain blank and their motionless feet are replaced with the randomness of Mexican jumping beans.

Eventually, I’ve found that the students do grasp the steps, at least in theory.

Now presents the problems of executing the step with the music, in a synchronized fashion, and hardest of all – remembering it. The class has already been informed that Miss Nadine cannot dance on stage with them. This means that sooner or later the students should be practicing the dance routine without me. To wean them off watching me do the steps, I often stop moving and simply call out the steps. The voice can be a useful tool, especially for the auditory learners. I have often seen other teachers call out the dance steps with the music to guide students verbally through the dance.  Recently, I’ve been asking the students to say the dance steps out loud with the music to guide themselves through the dance.

I do this for several reasons.

  1. My voice gets tired. Let’s be honest, I’m lazy. The music is loud, and I can only yell so loud. Children are loud. Problem solved.
  2. It helps them remember the steps in order. Saying the steps out loud requires them to actually think about which steps they are doing and memorize them.
  3. It pushes them to stay together. The loudest kid always wins, and the other kids follow.
  4. It keeps their attention on the dance. Kids have a hard time saying one thing and thinking about something else. Saying the steps out loud keeps their little minds from wandering.

This, at least, replaces the sea of blank faces and still feet with dancing feet and a chorus of “step-together-step-hop!”

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