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How Do I Practice Between Lessons?

November 30, 2019

It happens to everyone: We arrive at our lesson ready to go, get a lot done, and then as
soon as we walk out the door our brain resets. It’s as if we never took a lesson. OR, everything
sticks, but when you go to dance outside of the studio, you draw a blank. THIS IS COMPLETELY
NORMAL and expected to happen. ESPECIALLY in your first few lessons. “But wait!” you say,
“I’ve been taking lessons forever and I STILL can’t remember anything!” Again, this is normal.
Don’t panic. There is a simple solution: Practice.

My Instructor Told Me Not to Practice

Your instructor is 100% right. If they’ve recently introduced you to a brand-new figure, don’t try
to practice that figure in the wild yet. What usually happens when we try to remember
something new, especially with as many details as the instructor may have given us? We
remember incorrectly, or we completely forget key points that made the figure work. This
results in improper practice, which builds bad habits. Then your instructor needs to spend a
lesson (or more) re-teaching that figure and correcting some bad habits before moving on. This
wastes time and lessons, and no one wants that! Instead: Utilize your Groups and Practice
Parties. Especially in a group class designed for your level, there is a chance that the instructor
is going to go over that specific figure in an amalgamation. If they aren’t planning to use that
figure in the amalgamation that evening, you can still ASK for help with the elements of the
figure (for instance, if you’re having trouble with Face-to-Face Back-to-Back in Waltz, the
instructor may be going over twinkles and how to properly lead your partner into open
positions). Your regular instructor is then able to use the amalgamation and information you
were given in group to help your grow in your dancing. Not only that, you’ve just received a
lesson on a dance you may have been having trouble in, leading to earlier check out (and saving
lessons).

You Said Practice Parties, Too. Parties are Scary.

Practice Parties can definitely be scary, especially if you’re brand new and don’t know anyone yet. One
Thing to remember: Everyone there has been where you are. Even instructors once had to
have their first lesson, and they would be lying if they said they weren’t nervous/apprehensive
their first time dancing around other people. While you may be saying “I don’t want people to
watch me dance yet,” Practice Parties are the SAFEST place to do so. Not only is it in an
environment where you’re already pretty comfortable, but the people there will NEVER judge
you. Your instructors are there to help you through dances you may not know, as well as dances
you already know but can’t quite remember. This is the time where you can say “Hey, I need to
go through this Foxtrot because the Curved Running Steps are driving me BONKERS,” or “I
remembered the McBooty McBooty, but I can’t remember the last part!” (It’s the
McHeeeeeeeeey). Your instructor will happily guide you through those figures and talk you
through them as well.

Using the Studio

A HUGE resource available to all of our students is use of the studio while not taking a lesson.
As long as an instructor is present, you are able to use the floor the practice your
amalgamations and routines for any reason. Showcase coming? Medal test? The cruise is in five
days? Take the time to get on the floor! If the floor is crowded, it will simulate dancing in the
“real world” and help you with your floorcraft. The music is usually controlled by the instructors
on lessons, but that can also help you to adapt to the music played in clubs, at weddings, and
other outside social events.

And Finally: Events

Showcase and Classic are not just for those performing. Two other things happen at these
events that you can take advantage of: Team Match and General Dancing. Consider Team
Match and the rounds of general dancing as your place to practice with the highest number of
people on the floor and the least risk. Once again, instructors are at these events to help you
and make sure you’re having fun while executing figures properly. Never be afraid to ask
someone to dance just to try something new!

Now that you know how to practice… Let’s Get You Dancing!

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