The first time I was given the opportunity to teach a class of preschool students I thought my music selections were going to WOW those 3 year olds. I had "Little April Showers" from Bambi ready for across the floor in Ballet & CeeLo Green’s "Forget You" to pump them up for Tap! Here’s the big reveal: Those songs are TERRIBLE for class. Terrible for different reasons, though!
"Forget You" is fairly obvious - the subject matter. The “clean” version still talks about things that no 4 year old needs. It’s also one of those situations where if the dancer decides to ask their parents to look up the song they know from class, there’s a huge possibility they accidentally pull up the unedited version and then it’s wildly clear why that song isn’t a great choice!
At a dance conference the presenter said something along the lines of, “If you aren't comfortable reading the lyrics out loud to your class or having them read it to you, then why would you allow them to dance to it?” That’s the easiest way to gauge my music selections. If I’m feeling iffy then I read it out loud and that tells me right away if it’s appropriate.
The not so obvious & less than perfect song choice is "Little April Showers" from Bambi. Fantastic song on its own and full of whimsy! However, if you sit down and listen to that song it really takes you on a musical journey that’s both confusing and distracting if you’re trying to lead a class of pre-school aged students. There’s a storm that happens in the middle of the song and things get very intense, very fast! Using it as a passive, background song while students work their skills across the dance floor doesn’t work well. It’s a great example of the music being a distraction instead of a tool for focus.
The music we select in class is another tool dance teachers can use to enhance their class. If it’s not enhancing, it’s likely detracting. Having a set playlist, especially in pre-school level classes, is a necessity for me! My classes are creative, fun, and engaging but they also run like clockwork because the moment a certain song comes on, both the kids & I know what’s happening next. One of my biggest pet peeves when observing a dance class is watching the teacher run to their music every song to pick out what they want to hear next. It wastes class time and adds a layer of confusion. In that time, while you’re picking out the next song, your kids have lost focus and now you have to expel unnecessary energy regaining their attention.
Music matters on multiple levels. There’s plenty of fantastic music choices and there’s no reason to use something that just isn’t right for the age group, all in the name of “expressing themselves” but that’s a post for another day…