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Blog 55: How to Keep Class Musically Interesting When You're Burnt Out

Keeping ballet class fresh and exciting..

especially when it's late spring and your energy has been drained by shows, competitions, exams, and the 'vid with zoom time, is brutal.

You know I'm right! I'm feeling the burnout too; TONS of extra rehearsals, extra work, and extra busyness. I LOVE what I do but wow..these are busy times! Spring is the 'Christmas' of our industry. lol.

In March I sent out an email asking for my subscribers to hit REPLY and tell me some of the ways THEY keep ballet class and music fresh and interesting when everyone starts to feel drained. Being that I'm not a ballet teacher, I thought it would be best to go straight to the source and then pass on the goods!!!

I LOVE all of these ideas and I hope you try them out!

Shona had these ideas:

  • Asking her pianist to take a familiar piece of music and play it in the style of a mazurka, or a tango, or a barcarolle, etc. Her pianist almost always says she can't do it.. but then the next class, she's prepared it and is ready and raring to go!
    • The perk of doing this is that her dancers are caught off guard and are forced to really listen and pay attention to what they're dancing to! Shona says "it is fun for everyone and my pianist says that she enjoys the reactions".
  • A more recent idea she had was to ask her pianist to change meters in the middle of an exercise, perhaps 3/4 on one side and 4/4 on the second side, without stopping.. a challenge for both her musician AND her dancers!! She hadn't tried it yet so.. hmmm.. I wonder how it went?!!

Penny recommended:

  • Using different music for syllabus than is set for it; early on, not close to the exam! (if you only get a pianist for 1 or 2 classes prior the exam, keep those classes to the set syllabus music, your students' learning curve of responding to live music is enough of a challenge!).
  • Warm ups to popular pop songs for the 6-10 yr olds.
  • Focusing on different aspects of the dynamics.. (Staccato, legato, forte, piano, accented, crescendos, diminuendos and ritardandos. This can be especially fun if you have a pianist who can flex with you!)

Justine declared:

  • "I always include the pianist - but I have the pianist chat to students & give their take on a topic or idea, or a dance rhythm, for example (such as a basic history of the mazurka - if there is such a thing!!)."

Lorel (ME!) suggestions:

  • Silence the music and see if they can keep the tempo. (Ask your pianist to stop playing and then jump back in, or simply turn down the volume temporarily!)
    • Great for allegro, for rhythm and quiet landings.
    • Great for grand battement, to make sure they're not slamming their leg down.
  • Blues instead of tangos
  • Try using a 5 or a 7!
  • Bolero instead of a polonaise!
  • Swap out a rag for a 6/8 (or vice versa) for glissade/assemble exercises. (Creates interesting musicality changes!)
  • A game of "Name this rhythm!" and then you clap a rhythm! (Mazurka, 3/4, 4/4, polonaise, polka, 6/8 allegro, etc) Start simple if you've never done this before, 3/4 or 4/4 at first. (Strong claps followed by weak one(s).)
  • Creative movement to character/folk music; this can inspire some really unusual and unexpected movements!  Neat stuff!

That's it, short and sweet, but this blog post should give you some great new ideas for bringing some fresh energy to your ballet classes! If you're looking for something to print out and reference, head over HERE and sign up to receive my FREE 10 Creative Ways to Use Music PDF that I created just for you for past blog post.

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