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Blog #41: Comfort Meter; Your Greatest Strength and Your Greatest Weakness

You know how sometimes you meet someone and immediately you think..

"wow, I just love this person.. I think we could be best friends! They're amazing! I could spend hours with them and never get tired of them.. They're so easy to hang out with because they're _________ (You fill in the blank!)."

Fast forward a few weeks and suddenly that very character trait that drew you to them like butter to popcorn or rum to coke is driving you bonkers.. like being stuck behind a slow driver when you're late!  

Their friendly, outgoing nature is actually loud and overwhelming, their quiet, gentleness is so passive that they never do anything or go anywhere, or perhaps their ability to make every occasion into a good time creates a monster, one of the most annoying people you've ever had the misfortune of spending time with!

Do you feel me?

It's frustrating because at the beginning you loved them for it.. but over time those same traits become the only thing you really experience from them.. and it's too much!!

That, my friend, is what your comfort meter can become!

You're probably thinking, "What the flip are you talking about, Lorel? I've never heard of this term, comfort meter."

It's all good, I'm coining it as a "Lorelism".

Comfort Meter: The meter of music that a dancer teacher or musician defaults to, naturally.

You're likely thinking, "Ok, Lorel, I get it.. but how can that be a bad thing?!"

Sit down and grab your water bottle, I'm about to tell you..

3 Powerful Reasons to KNOW Your Comfort Meter and AVOID it

First, let's set the stage, let's assume your comfort meter is triple meter.

The number one reason for AVOIDING using triple meter is because, let's be honest (I'm totally serious here, if you're really, really honest with yourself), you're going to use it anyway. That's right, I went there.. I know you're going to your favourite meter!

So, by intentionally avoiding your comfort meter as much as you can, it will help your unset ballet class end up more balanced in its variety of meters.

(In case you're new to me, I like to simplify the concept of music, pretty much all of the music we use belongs to one of 2 families, duple or triple meter!).

Side note: I can usually tell what a teacher's comfort meter is.. if I can't by the end of playing class for them, I'm very impressed! There are a few true masters of your trade that can hide it from me, but just a few!

OK, now, let's keep moving, shall we? Reason number two for KNOWING your comfort meter and AVOIDING it is....

DRUMROLL...

keeping your students awake and engaged!

I KNOW, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you don't want to become the teacher who uses the same meter for EVERYTHING (Not literally, but almost!)!

Remember, you've got students in the room that are learning your exercises, picking up your nuances and absorbing musicality from your every move, class and exercise.

They're going to go BRAIN DEAD dancing a lovely 3/4 warm up, a slow 6/8 plie, a minuet for slow tendus, a hornpipe for fast tendus (oooo, a duple meter!!), a 6/8 for degages, a lyrical waltz for rond de jambes, a barcarolle for fondus, a 2/4 for frappes (YIKES, that's two duple meters now!), a beautiful 6/8 for adage and finally a nice waltz for grand battment.  SNORE..so many threes..

SIDE NOTE: Do you have some "back of the bus" dancers? Let me tell you what's really great about TRIPLE meter music, everyone can keep up with the music (Even the dancers who don't know the exercise have time to fake it.)!

When you use DUPLE meter, there's less time for that. There's only one '&' before there is another dancer count! I've watched many a tired or distracted young dancer snap out of it when they realize they have to wake up their brain because DUPLE meter music was being used and they were LATE!

By intentionally AVOIDING your comfort meter, all your dancers are forced to fire on all cylinders and pay attention to the music!

and finally.. reason number 3 to know your comfort meter and avoid it, is YOU!

You're freakin' amazing! You are. You're working in an art form that requires dedication over years and years and years.. progress is slowly built up to create some of the most incredible artists of all time!

In this day and age of Instacart, Instagram, Instabox, Instasize, instant mashed potatoes (nothing to write home about there), etc, what you're doing is NO EASY FEAT!

YOU deserve to not only KNOW your comfort meter and use it purposefully with delight (not like those freezer burned perogies you have somewhere in the back of the freezer) AS WELL AS have the skills and ability to use OTHER music as you explore ALL the potential rhythms and accents available to you!

In Conclusion..

AND so, you can see how it's beyond valuable to not only know your comfort meter, but then to strike out into a new and exciting land with unfamiliar music types, refreshing accents and music phrases that magically draw out JUST what your purpose was for that exercise! 

Can you feel the fresh air of inspiration on your face? This new exciting land has that.. fresh air and inspiration! 

(It does also have the older, stale, stinky feet/body smell that we are all too familiar with, BUT, let's not dwell on that right now! lol).

In case you're uncertain about which is your favourite meter, take a look at your unset classes. How many of your slow exercises (plie, adage, port de bras, etc) are the same meter? That is often quite indicative. lol.

Which syllabus exercises are the easiest for you to count? Duple meter or triple meter? 

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If you're thinking, "I've got this, I'm already extremely confident in my music skills!", then I double-dog dare you to grab this freebie that I've made just for you. It's a checklist for you to work your way through! I dare you to do ALL of them!

 

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