Private solo lessons – how to get the most out of them.
So you’ve finally been asked to represent your studio doing a solo, or maybe you are a seasoned soloist wondering how to get the edge over your competitors. Private solo lessons have the potential to really take you to the next level IF they are approached in the right way. We talk a lot about practicing at home, about setting goals, and about working hard in class but what about your private lessons, the one-on-one time you spend with your teacher perfecting your solo. How can you make sure that you get the most out of this valuable time?
First of all, it is important to recognize how valuable this time really is. Even MORE hard-earned cash is being invested into private lessons. It should NEVER be seen as a right or a chore. Private lessons are a privilege in every way. Just as your parents are paying extra and devoting more time for the private lessons, likewise dance teachers are ALWAYS short on time – time is a premium resource in the world of dance. If some of this time is being devoted to JUST YOU, you’d better come prepared to make the most out of it.
Five ways to get the most out of your private solo dance lesson.
- Know your choreography – I cannot stress this enough! KNOW YOUR CHOREOGRAPHY. It is imperative that you don’t set foot in a private lesson, not knowing your dance. Sure, when a dance is new, little blank moments happen, but there is a world of difference between that and just plain not knowing what you are doing. If you do come to a lesson not knowing what you are doing your teacher cannot help you. They just can’t. They may be kind enough to try and help you nut it out but you’ve wasted a lesson right there. When you learn a dance, make sure you keep a record. Back in the dim dark days we had to write things down, now it is SO easy, you can just take a video, there really is NO excuse for not knowing your dance. This is YOUR responsibility, not anybody else’s.
- Come prepared with the right equipment – It is so unbelievably discouraging when a child presents to their private lesson without the equipment they need. If you have a ballet solo, do not come with only jazz shoes. Do not come with hair in your face, do not come without any props or practice props you might need. All these things put you way behind.
- Bring a book – Private lessons are often scheduled in the middle of a busy night of dancing. By the end of the night, it’s hard to remember exactly what your corrections were, so WRITE THEM DOWN. A key component of private lessons is fixing your corrections. Dance teachers don’t give out corrections for the fun of it, because they like talking or just for something to do. They are telling you exactly what you need to do to improve. This is vital information. Its information they are giving just to you, tailor-made to your situation. Why would you not do everything in your power to apply this information? For more information on applying corrections and to download a correction checklist, click here.
- Dance full out – when you are running your solo in your solo lesson, it is a really amazing chance, to perform your solo in a big space and practice the way you are going to do it on the stage. It’s about as close you are going to get to being on stage without actually being on stage. Yet time and time again I see students marking through choreography or performing it without full facial expressions. There are times when your teacher may instruct you to mark certain parts of your dace, there are times when it may be ok to dance without full facial expression but wait to be told. Otherwise, do it full out. Your mind and body need to get used to what it’s going to be like when you are dancing and performing full out. If you suddenly burst onto the stage with full performance without having practiced it that way, you will most likely burn out before your solo is finished (performing and dancing together is a lot more exhausting than just dancing).
- Communicate – In order to really get the most out of your lesson, it is really important to communicate with your teacher. It can feel a bit intimidating at first, just you in the room with nobody else to distract attention. In order that your teacher can help you to the very best of their ability, they need to know any vital information. Do you have an injury, even a niggle, let them know. Did you really struggle with a certain part of your solo when you performed it on stage? Are you stressed about some aspect of your solo? Is there a problem with your costume? Do you have a question about how a certain correction should be applied? If entering the competition is up to your parents rather than the studio, make sure you tell your teacher which competitions you are entered in.
So there you have it! Of course, you may choose not to take any of this advice. That’s fine, maybe you think that your lyrical shoes are good enough for ballet shoes, maybe you think that having neat hair doesn’t really matter and that bringing a book to class is for little kids. The thing is, that with each one of these decisions you take you are decreasing the effectiveness of the valuable time available to you.
A student who comes to their private lesson prepared, knowing their choreography, having worked on their corrections is primed ready to make progress. This student is motivating for the teacher and the energy in the lesson takes on a positive, magical vibe. The lesson is helpful, valuable, and sets the student up for success. The student who is not prepared, who has not remembered their corrections chips away at their possible achievement. They effectively fight against their own success.
For more information on how to help your dancer succeed check out these articles.