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Blog #52 Music for Mixed Accent Exercises (and the Thanks Christmas Season)

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends! As a Canadian who was already done thanksgiving back in October, I'm eyebrow deep in Christmas preparations already! lol. The lights are up, the tree is up and cookies are start to get stored in the freezer! (Quick question, do you wait until Thanksgiving is over to decorate?)

Speaking of Christmas, GUESS WHAT?!  I've been planning on releasing a Christmas ballet class album for years, literally.. about 10 years I kept talking about it but with 2 little boys in the house, recording in peace was a far off dream! All that being said, I finally managed to do it this year! Wahoo!! 

RELEASE DATE is December 2nd, 2021!

The pre-release is today, November 25th, 2021. If you buy the album in pre-release form before December 2nd, you'll get one of the tracks immediately!! I'm so thrilled to share this with you! I've already seen it on Apple Itunes so if it's not on your preferred music player yet, keep looking for it, it's coming!

Now, on to our regular scheduled programming! 

Mixed Accent Grand Battements

I have played for a teacher who has this really great grand battement exercise that is almost impossible for her teen dancers to get correct! There were 1 or 2 that could get it right, but most didn't. 

Grand battement is a great exercise for testing your students' forethought and music skills because.. duh duh duh... it's really easy to be obviously late if they're not thinking or unaware, right?

The exercise is up on the count 1 and 3 and then, up on the AND five and 6 AND 7 and 8. I don't recall in what direction it goes first but it's the pattern that throws them. Dancers need to be acutely aware of music rhythms in order to do this exercise well.

Should you be a teacher who likes to do this type of pattern with your students, I applaud you, it's challenging for them!

The hard part for you is, what music do you pick?! It has accents both ways, down and up! If you select music that has an anacrusis (pick up), you run the risk of your dancers being early for their first 2 GBs on the count because they hear that pick up accent, BUT, if you pick music that doesn't have that accent in it, then there's not a chance they'll be on time for the GBs that are on the AND.  Know what I mean?

So the question is, 

What kind of music would work best for varied accent exercises?

From my experience, you'll have more success using music that has an anacrusis (Example of an anacrusis-melody that starts before the count: 'You're a Mean One, Mr.Grinch') and here's why.

  • In slow exercises dancers tend to be early, you know what I mean, right? They rush the plies or developes.. their port de bra arrives and then gets stagnant rather than continuous movement, that type of thing.
  • In faster exercises, dancers tend to be late. Many need the anacrusis to actually realize that the beat is coming sooner than they think! Even with an anacrusis, you'll find your dancers aren't always 'on' the beat completely because they need to move earlier in order to arrive on time! Especially for such a big movement like a grand battement!

So, with that information in mind it becomes obvious really quickly that for something like grand battement, a quicker exercise, music with an anacrusis is going to help them arrive on time more easily. Also, it'll give your dancers a fighting chance at achieving those GBs on the AND which you and I both know they're going to have to move FAST to hit the top of the GB in time with the music.

Music Types with Anacrusis

Triple Meter

  1. Lyrical waltzes often
  2. Allegro 6/8 often
  3. Polka-Mazurka often
  4. Spanish sounding waltzes
  5. Tarantellas
  6. Christmas music: Silver Bells, What Child is This, Christmas Waltz, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, O Christmas Tree, The First Noel
  7. Nutcracker: the dance with Grandfather, sections of Waltz of the Flowers, sections of the final waltz at the end.

Duple Meter

  1. Hornpipe
  2. Polka
  3. 2/4s often
  4. 6/8 Marches (usually)
  5. 4/4 Marches (often)
  6. Habanera
  7. Rag
  8. Gavotte 
  9. Christmas Music: Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, You're a Mean One, Mr.Grinch, It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, It's a Marshmallow World
  10. Nutcracker: The children's galop

Some of these music types often have only a short 1 note anacrusis (6/8 allegro), others have 2 whole beats (like the gavotte) or 1 dancer count (like a tarantella).. so many different options for music with a pick up!   

I hope that gives you some ideas for music to use for your exercises that need a pick up, whether bar work or in the centre.

If you're thinking, that's great Lorel, but I don't know what half of those music types are, or how to count them. Well, then it's a really great time to learn by jumping into The Official Music Training Course for Ballet Teachers because it's open for you to take via self-study right now! 

It'd be a great way to use some of your time off at Christmas time, right? Whether you work with a pianist or not, this course is FULL of value for you and I can promise you'll learn something!!  (PLUS, RAD teachers.. this is worth 20 time earned CPD hours; you can be done for the year when you've finished it plus learned a PILE of skills!) 

I hope you have an amazing rest of your week and weekend and don't forget, December 2nd, 2021 is the release date for .......Drum roll......Christmas Ballet Class Music by Lorel Leal |The Barre Pianist!

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