2 Music Tips for Dance Teachers

September 2014 | 2 Music Tips for Dance Teachers | Melody and Harmony

Melody is the horizontal aspect of music. The first thing most of us notice about a piece of music is the melody; often, it’s what stays with us. For dancers, the melody helps them remember the choreography. Harmony (the chords, combinations of notes sounded at the same time) is the vertical aspect of music; it supports the melody.

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July 2014 | 2 Music Tips for Teachers | Quality and Dynamics

The two basic musical qualities are legato, meaning smooth and connected (indicated by a curved line or phrase marking above the notes to be connected) and staccato, meaning detached and disconnected (indicated by a dot above each note to be shortened). When you explain legato to your students, mention the quality of fondu or developpé movements, and for staccato, mention the frappé movement and jumps.

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March-April 2014 | 2 Music Tips for Teachers | Tempo Terms

The terms used to indicate tempo are almost exclusively written in Italian. The slow tempos—grave (slow and solemn like a funeral march), largo (broadly, with dignity), lento (slow), and adagio (slowly at ease)—correspond to ballet movements such as pliés, adage, développé, and fondu. The medium tempos—andante (walking speed), allegretto (lively, but slightly slower than allegro), and moderato (moderate)—correspond to movements such as rond de jambe, pirouette, and battement tendu. The fast tempos—allegro (lively and bright), presto (very fast), prestissimo (as fast as possible), and vivace (vivacious)—correspond to frappé, petit battements, and petit allegro, etc.

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January 2014 | 2 Music Tips for Dance Teachers | Exercises for Musicality

As a teacher, the more you know about music, the easier it is to develop musicality in your students. Some students are always “on the music” while others tend to rush ahead or drag behind. You can help the less-than-musical students by developing their listening skills. (Remember that while musicians learn by listening, dancers are visually and physically oriented and learn by watching and doing.) To be on the music, the dancers must slightly anticipate the pulse. When doing classroom exercises, use the musical introduction to set this process of anticipation in motion; it establishes the tempo and indicates the quality, which helps the students prepare to move at the right speed.

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