Why Dance?The number of people taking part in dance classes world wide is increasing, with dance allowing people to be more active, socialise within local communities and develop creative skills.
There are numerous benefits to partaking in dance classes ranging from increasing your amount of daily exercise to making new friends with shared interests. In the European Union the weekly exercise targets for children are currently set at a minimum of 1 hour per day for children and at least 30 minutes, five times a week, for adults. Although these targets may look daunting at first, they can easily be met by attending dance classes. Some of the benefits to increasing the amount of exercise you do are; reduced stress levels, improved relaxation, stronger bones and muscles and help to control body weight.
Dance also offers an activity for people who may not consider themselves as ‘sporty’. The benefit of dance is not only that of increased exercise, but the participation in an art form, which is routed in technique, and giving the opportunity for a creative outlet.
Dance can also open new opportunities in terms of careers. The entertainment industry is vast, employing an estimated 30,000 in dance related roles in the UK alone. There are numerous professions in dance from dancing, teaching, choreography or dance notation. In addition to this, people work in the dance industry as; community dance practitioners, promoters, producers, designers, publicists, technicians, physiotherapists, medical and alternative practitioners, therapists, writers and academics.
The skills developed in dance can also be valuable transferable skills that can be applied to any career path. The confidence gained through achievements in dance helps to build social skills, increase self esteem and the ability to communicate well in a group. These skills once built up through partaking in dance can lead to a variety of career routes.
Taking the first step can be the hardest, but by using this site to find qualified teachers, you can be assured of high quality of training.
Ten reasons to participate
Your child is busy, taking hours of dance class per week, and you are wondering, “Is all of this money going toward the right things? Is my budding dancer getting what he or she needs for the best value?”
When you have a child in dance, you pledge your own resources to the process and it makes sense that you want to make sure these resources are not going to waste.
Something has value when what you get out is equal to or greater than what you put in. Reward ≥ Dedication (of time, of funds, of spirit, of motivation, of thought, etc.)
The “bad” news?The return on value is not always immediate, particularly in dance. Rewards can come much later so it can be hard to tell if you are getting value. That’s why I think so many parents ask the questions above.
The good news? Good value is measurable, even in the moment, if you know what your values are.
What is valuable to you? Dance is a treasure chest of riches to be unlocked. Even if your child never steps foot into a dance studio again after high school, it is likely he’ll have received something from the experience. Potentially, these could be valuable life lessons.
Take some time to determine what you and your child want to get out of dance beyond any professional aspirations. Then, reflect on your child’s dance program and schedule based on these standards. For instance, if self-discipline is something you value, assess if the school encourages and expects dancers to focus and make choices. If it’s creativity, make sure your school provides opportunities for dancers to participate in the creative process. Look at the wider scope of rewards in dance when you evaluate and you’ll have a better idea if you are putting your money where it really matters for you.
Quantity – How much is valuable? At a dance studio it is easy to get caught up in quantity. There are a buffet of different dance styles from which to choose. These have the potential to be enriching experiences for your child, no doubt. But they can begin to accumulate, each one seeming to be crucial (and expensive) pieces to a puzzle.
In this quest for fulfilling every need with more classes, more awards, and more performances, the importance of other rewards is underestimated. Perhaps sensing a gap or void, parents begin to wonder how many, or which of these puzzle pieces are really necessary.
But it isn’t about the number really. Nor is about having all the “right” pieces.
What matters is that each piece is considered before it is placed, works toward your child’s current goals and interests, and is supported by a solid foundation of quality training and true enthusiasm for movement and the art of dance.
Quality – What is valuable in dance? Dance parents can get into a mindset in which all the decisions made about a child’s classes are bent on best preparing their young dancer for that maybe, what-if chance that he or she wants a career someday. This too neglects the other valuables dance has to offer.
If your child definitely has aims to become a professional or if you are concerned that they might one day, consider this:
I’ve never heard a college professor or choreographer or critic lament that a dancer just didn’t take enough classes, or win enough awards, or perform enough as a kid.
I have witnessed disappointment in the training and technique a dancer has received. Clearly the focus is on quality not quantity.
Quality vs. Quantity Granted, when we talk about quality dance training, quantity does come up. Standard estimates for what is considered “enough” technique to progress to certain levels of training do exist. You may have a better understanding of how training (the course of techniques learned) differs from having experiences in a variety of dance styles.
The ability to adapt to many different dance forms comes only when there is good training and technique to build upon.
Denise Wall, studio owner (and mother of Travis Wall and Danny Tidwell) says she never wanted to own her own studio, but after teaching in studios where success was measured more by enrollment and retention than by students’ improvement, she changed her mind. “Unless you own your own studio, you cannot control curriculum,” she says. “I would rather be poor than sacrifice technique.”
That dedication to quality, rather than quantity has helped Denise Wall’s children and students find success in the dance world.
Bottom line: When you make a commitment to quality over quantity and aim for experiences that support your child’s goals and values, you can almost always feel confident that your investment (whatever that is) is going to have great returns for your child.
Find a studio devoted to quality instruction of techniques and training. It may not always be the least expensive option. It may not always be the most expensive option, either. But it will be the most bang for your buck: the better value.
Abide by your own commitment to quality when considering the addition of classes or other expenses (or how much dance your child is taking).
1. Love Dance
Teachers view dance as a gift and want you to experience that too. Dance is both a gift to you and your gift to the world. Enjoy it.
2. Push Yourself
Continue learning and keep striving to be a tiny bit better each day. No one is expecting you to whip out eighteen fouettes the day after you learn them. The key to reaching your dreams is to push yourself a little further each day.
3. Be Confident
Put your best self forward and always train to your capacity. Remember that you love dance for a reason and you are doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. Relax in the thought that it is no accident you found dance and just enjoy what you love.
4. Don’t Play it Safe
Try new things. Don’t just stick with the same style or over train in one area of dance. Being a versatile, well-rounded dancer will be helpful in your future dance career, plus it will help you reach new limits in your favorite style.
Be a good teammate. Dancers need each other for support in such a competitive world. You don’t need to cut down someone else to be a great dancer yourself.
6. Accept Corrections
Accept corrections as a way to improve your dancing. Your teachers want your dancing to continue to grow and progress.
7. Be Creative
Don’t be afraid to try things that have never been done before. Using your creativity in dance will also translate into other areas in your life. Expressing your creativity will allow you to find new, innovative ways to do things and solve problems.
8. Appreciate Your Body
You have a unique body and are lucky to be able to use it for dance. Instead of wanting longer legs, a smaller stomach, or better feet, try focusing on what you are blessed with. Thinking about what you CAN do instead of what you can’t will have a huge impact on both your dancing and your day-to-day life.
9. Dance is Art
Remember that dance is an ART form. Dance is about artistry and expression, not a bunch of tricks put together.
Put dance into perspective of the big picture. Don’t forget that you are MORE than a dancer. You are not defined by dance and dance alone. You have amazing gifts to offer that reach beyond your talents as a dancer.
Between soccer and scouts, your school-age kid's schedule is loaded with fun activities. If you're on the fence about adding music classes to the list, take note of the benefits that come with signing your little one up for violin or piano lessons. Maybe she won't be the next Beethoven, but she may have an easier time learning math, practicing good manners (including patience!), and becoming a team player. Read on to learn more about the benefits of music education.
It improves academic skills.
Music and math are highly intertwined. By understanding beat, rhythm, and scales, children are learning how to divide, create fractions, and recognize patterns. It seems that music wires a child's brain to help him better understand other areas of math, says Lynn Kleiner, founder of Music Rhapsody in Redondo Beach, CA. As kids get older, they'll start reciting songs, calling on their short-term memory and eventually their long-term memory. Using a mnemonic device to do this is a method that can later be applied to other memory skills, says Mary Larew, Suzuki violin teacher at the Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, Connecticut. Musical instrument classes also introduce young children to basic physics. For instance, plucking the strings on a guitar or violin teaches children about harmonic and sympathetic vibrations. Even non-string instruments, such as drums and the vibraphone, give big kids the opportunity to explore these scientific principles.
It develops physical skills.
Certain instruments, such as percussion, help children develop coordination and motor skills; they require movement of the hands, arms, and feet. This type of instrument is great for high-energy kids, says Kristen Regester, Early Childhood Program Manager at Sherwood Community Music School at Columbia College Chicago. String and keyboard instruments, like the violin and piano, demand different actions from your right and left hands simultaneously. "It's like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time," Regester says. Instruments not only help develop ambidexterity, but they can also encourage children to become comfortable in naturally uncomfortable positions. Enhancing coordination and perfecting timing can prepare children for other hobbies, like dance and sports.
It cultivates social skills.
Group classes require peer interaction and communication, which encourage teamwork, as children must collaborate to create a crescendo or an accelerando. If a child is playing his instrument too loudly or speeding up too quickly, he'll need to adjust. It's important for children to know and understand their individual part in a larger ensemble, Regester says. Music Rhapsody offers general music education classes, in which teachers split students into groups and assign each child a task. Whether a team is responsible for choosing instruments or creating a melody, students work toward a common goal. "These are the kinds of experiences we have in society," Kleiner says. "We need more group interaction and problem solving."
It refines discipline and patience.
Learning an instrument teaches children about delayed gratification. The violin, for example, has a steep learning curve. Before you can make a single sound, you must first learn how to hold the violin, how to hold the bow, and where to place your feet, Larew says. Playing an instrument teaches kids to persevere through hours, months, and sometimes years of practice before they reach specific goals, such as performing with a band or memorizing a solo piece. "Private lessons and practicing at home require a very focused kind of attention for even 10 minutes at a time," Larew says. Group lessons, in which students learn to play the same instruments in an ensemble, also improve patience, as children must wait their turn to play individually. And in waiting for their turns and listening to their classmates play, kids learn to show their peers respect, to sit still and be quiet for designated periods of time, and to be attentive.
It boosts self-esteem.
Lessons offer a forum where children can learn to accept and give constructive criticism. Turning negative feedback into positive change helps build self-confidence, Regester says. Group lessons, in particular, may help children understand that nobody, including themselves or their peers, is perfect, and that everyone has room for improvement. "Presenting yourself in public is an important skill whether you become a professional musician or not," Larew says. This skill is easily transferrable to public speaking, she adds. And, of course, once a child is advanced enough, she'll possess musical skills that will help her stand out.
It introduces children to other cultures.
By learning about and playing a variety of instruments, kids can discover how music plays a critical role in other cultures. For instance, bongos and timbales may introduce children to African and Cuban styles of music. Although the modern-day violin has roots in Italy, learning to play it exposes children to classical music popularized by German and Austrian musicians. Versatile instruments, such as the violin and piano, can accompany a wide repertoire of styles, including classical and jazz (which originated in the American South). It's important to familiarize children with other cultures at a young age because this fosters open-mindedness about worlds and traditions beyond the ones they know.
What to Consider When Selecting an Instrument
Ultimately, the instrument you and your child choose should depend on a number of factors. Here's a list of questions to consider before bringing home a new music maker:
Here are the things that we want you to know.
I promise to continue teaching all these things. All I ask is that even on her noisiest, messiest, craziest day, you remember that she's only trying on for size, the lessons that we are passing on each week. Whenever you can let her be 100% herself, with complete freedom, without apology, you are breaking the mold and changing the future for your daughter. And I for one, am so proud to be a part of that.