Blog #45: Level Up Your Marking by using these 4 music qualities

2/4 3/4 accent march marking exercises marking musically mazurka meter polonaise rhythm spanish waltz tempo the omtc May 29, 2021

I'm not playing the piano, why do I need to know music terms? Does it really matter if I know what those 4 words mean?

Yes! Yes! and YES!!!

You NEED to know what they are so you can be clear to your musicians, your dancers and yourself when you're marking! Your total awareness and ability to express these music qualities will take your teaching to a WHOLE new level! 

Bwoop! Bwoop! Bwoop!

4 Music Terms you NEED to Know, Understand and Demonstrate


This is the speed of music you need. When you're making your exercises, you've got to know the tempo that you want and WHY you want it. Is it about speed? Is it about accuracy? Is it about the technique? Is it about the hold? Is it about strength building? Depending on the purpose of your exercise, you'll want to be aware of what speed supports it!

Your tempo can be found by listening to the beat. tick, tick, tick, tick.. etc. How fast do those happen? That's your tempo.


Meter is how the beats are organized. Are they organized in 2s? 4s? 3s? 6 count phrases? When you listen to the beats to find the tempo, you'll notice some of those beats are stronger than others. Pay attention to how many beats are happening between the strong ones and it will help you figure out what meter you're dealing with!

BEAT beat beat BEAT beat beat BEAT beat beat would be a 3/4

BEAT beat BEAT beat BEAT beat BEAT beat would be a 2/4

BEAT tica BEAT beat BEAT beat BEAT tica BEAT beat BEAT beat is a polonaise

Knowing the meter you want will help you sort through your music and find what you want QUICKER! Solid knowledge and training to understand how to count, hear and use meters/music types is the core of The Official Music Training Course for Ballet Teachers (The OMTC), a dearly loved and VERY valuable course for you! 


This is directly tied to your METER. The Rhythm is how those beats are patterned! 

For example, a Spanish waltz has a 2 beat anacrusis (or a pick-up) generally and tica-ticas or triplets on beats 2 and 3. That's it's rhythm! The METER is that it's a 3/4. Its a waltz. The TEMPO is that they're not very fast generally. The RHYTHM is that it has those tica-tica rhythms and trip-i-let rhythms in it! The reason you might want a Spanish waltz instead of a grand waltz.

&     a    1 tripilet  a    2    tica  tica   3   trip-i-let   a      4    &     a    

Do you see the rhythms in it?  Many music types have specific rhythms that are theirs alone. When you know them, you can use them with intent and cleverness!


And finally, the accent! Different music types have different accents and if you know them, you can USE them to your heart's delight!

Ballet exercises have accents, for example a tendu can have an accent out or in. A frappe is always accent out. Grand battement has changes in accent as well! It could it be up, it could closed on the beat.

Music also has accents. The generic waltz has an accent on beat 1. The generic march has an accent on beat 1 and 3. This changes when the music has an anacrusis. Some music types have special accents on certain beats (like the mazurka on beat 2!).

All that to say, the more aware you are of the accent in the music, the more you can take advantage of it and use it well!

In Conclusion..

Understand the TEMPO, METER, RHYTHM and ACCENT of what you want for your exercises and of the music you're choosing between will DRAMATICALLY improve your marking of the exercises AND the speed that you students pick them up!

When you can clearly mark these 4 music qualities, your exercise becomes so incredibly clear to EVERYONE in the room!  If you want to be stronger in this area, make sure you take The OMTC (sooner is always better than later!).


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