Dancing can offer many mental and physical health benefits, and makes for a powerful educational tool. It can boost a student’s memory, enhance creativity, improve their social skills, instil discipline, and so much more. It’s little wonder then that dance is a field of education in its own right — for professionals and non-professionals alike.
There are many elements that go into great dance teaching, from technical knowhow to excellent verbal communication skills. One often overlooked aspect is that of the music played during classes. Ultimately, music is the spark that gets our hips moving, and in dance education it plays an incredibly important role.
If you’re a dance teacher yourself and are struggling to select songs for your students , we’ve got you covered. Our music selection tips will set you on the right track — pun intended.
Think about licensing and copyright
Unless the songs are copyright-free, playing music in public involves complying with copyright and licensing regulations. Doing so without the necessary licence — which is called ‘TheMusicLicence’,
— is against the law and could see you being sued.
Speaking of legalities, this is an important thing to consider generally, from complying with data protection laws to owning employer’s liability insurance, which is a legal requirement should you employ others. Having insurance is a great idea overall — as provider Salon Gold notes: “Dance teachers are being faced with an increasing incidence of claims. Dance teacher insurance protection offers you a very low-cost safety net.”
Consider the dance style
Different dance styles require specific types of music, so make sure that the songs you pick go well with the style of dance you are teaching. For example, ballet pairs great with classical music, while hip-hop likely requires more contemporary and up-tempo beats.
As part of this, the rhythm and beat of the music should match the choreography, while you should also pay attention to the musical structure. Songs with clear sections (intro, verse, chorus, bridge) can help in creating dynamic choreography with well-defined transitions.
Cater to the skill level
The skill level of your students will influence your music choices. For beginners, it’s a good idea to opt for music with a slower tempo and clear rhythm at first. As dancers progress, you can introduce more complex and faster-paced tracks.
Depending on the dance’s narrative and style, you may also have the choice between songs with lyrics and purely instrumental tracks. At the beginning, it’s advisable to mainly go for instrumental songs, as lyrics can add extra depth or confusion to the choreography.
Choose a range of music to expose students to various musical genres and cultures. This can broaden their horizons and make their dance education more enriching. More specially, if you’re teaching a dance style with distinctive cultural roots, pick music that reflects that culture. This adds authenticity and pays respect to the art form.
You may even want to consider using live musicians for special performances or classes. Live music can be a unique and inspiring experience for students, helping to create rich, multi-sensory experiences that can only enhance their education.