Teaching musicality to children is one of the greatest joys of my job and can be fun for you too. Since I mainly work with children under 6, I’m concerned about basic things. Like how the music sounds, is it fast paced or slow or in between. How does the music make them feel. Ask the children to describe to you how the music makes them feel. Have fun with it and explore the not so ordinary, for example Read more »
What does “The Book of Eli” have to do with teaching children dance I’m sure you’re wondering. There are so many lessons in this wonderful movie that are applicable to teaching it’s amazing. One big one is using your body as an instrument to experience life. That’s crazy you say, of course we use our bodies as an instrument in life. We do it every day. Really?! When was the last time you sat down and really enjoyed a reallly good meal or smelled flowers or just listened to really good music that made you feel great. We are in such a rush nowadays that we take our body and our senses for granted.
One major component of my dance class is getting the children to use their imaginations. To imagine what it feels like to be a frog. What does a frog do and what sound does it make? How does a frog move and get around. What about popcorn and birds etc. Why is imagination an important skill for kids to learn? Imagination and creativity are the building blocks for problem solving. Problem solving is a skill that is necessary not just in subjects like math or school but in real life. A skill they will find useful for the rest of their lives.
Imagination and creativity build confidence and encourages exploration. It expands the mind and gives us options. Having options and choices empowers us. Children learn Read more »
It is never too early to start giving your children exposure to music and movement, two fundamental components in dance education. It is very important though to keep a few things in mind. One very important thing is to make sure the music is appropriate for babies. What we like and what appeals to babies are totally different. You’ll have a greater success rate if you choose basic nursery ryhmes. Make sure the music doesn’t contain any jarring beats and is not too loud. This type of music can be frightening and causes them to cry. It doesn’t have to be lullabye music and can be up tempo with a good beat but the tempo shouldn’t be too fast.
You really don’t need musical accompaniment at all, just your voice is fine. You don’t need to worry if you don’t feel that you can carry a tune. It is still music to the babies’ ears, especially if you are their parent, caregiver or someone they are already familiar with. Babies love to be talked to. It gives them Read more »
I am asked frequently by my parents how is my child doing in dance. My answer is always the same Great!!!!! and then I go into explaining why. When my students take their first class I assess where they are and what they can do. There are so many things that I am teaching besides movement, dance terminology, musicality and physical fitness. One of the first things we work on are following instructions and listening skills.
It takes a lot for children to listen to the music and instructions and effectively execute and remember what they have been told. They are not just freely moving to the music as they would normally if they were at home or a party, although this is a part of class also. They are both moving and thinking and listening for changes in the music all at the same time.
So when I am assessing their progress which occurs over several classes, I am not only looking at their movement, execution of the steps given and how quickly they can change with the music. I am looking at how comfortable they feel with their movements are they staying on task, having fun, do they try even though the steps may be complicated.
I look for these things because I am not just developing performers. I am developing skills that will help them to find learning fun, build self confidence and esteem. Skills that will help them develop an “I Can Do It” Attitude, memorization skills, in addition to hand eye coordination and working with others.
So there are many different layers and levels that I am assessing and I am very happy and excited when I see growth, development or mastery on any level. It is not an all or nothing with me and I am not looking for perfection. The feedback that I get from my students help me to develop better curriculums or make changes so that our goals are accomplished,which are to have fun, learn and master themselves and their dances.
Your questions and comments are greatly appreciated.
I had a great time at the movies this weekend and saw two really good movies. The first was the “ Princess and the Frog”.
I really loved this movie. As an African American woman I was happy and proud to have the family of Tiana depicted with both a mother and father present and having good values and love. These types of family do exist in the African American culture and it was great to see it depicted in animation form. I loved Charlotte too, she tickled me to no end. Both Tiana and Charlotte were very determined to have what they wanted, to follow and achieve their dreams. I lilked how the movie gives us all permission to dream again. That there is still good to be had in life. In spite of whatever may come our way that life is still on our side and is good. We have a lot to be grateful for. We have a wonderful opportunity to look at all the good and what’s right with our life and be grateful and happpy for it. This is what that movie did for me and I plan to purchase 2 dvds, one for my daughter and myself.
The second movie was “ Avatar” and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. The only reason I went is because my husband wanted to see it. I would have preferred to see “Nine” but am happy that I saw “Avatar”. It communicated to me that there are always people in the world that want to do the right thing. That good still truimphs over evil and that the power of love still prevails. It also reminded me that you still can’t judge a book by its cover and that you really need to get to the heart of the matter. That people and the bigger picture will always matter more than money. And although money is important, we have an opportunity to find a way to find a win-win situation for everybody and everythng involved. Nature and Spirit are things to be valued and included in our lives and bring us even more value. By including these things in our lives, our lives become easier, and more enjoyable and flow.
Did you see either of these movies? I’d love your thoughts and opinions on them or any other movie you might have seen this holiday season.
Peace and Happiness,
As I entered the school I noticed T. W. sitting off to the side by himself. Is T. W. in time out I asked his teacher, will he be able to take dance class today? No, T.W. isn’t in time out. His mother doesn’t want him to dance today he had an operation. An operation ?????!!!!!!! I asked perplexed looking right at him. T.W. is usually a ball of fire and energy, very expressive and spontaneous. This was one of the things that tickled me about him and made him a joy and pleasure to teach.
Today though T.W. sat quietly in his chair just looking back at me waiting to see what I would say. His teacher explained that at 5 years old he had just been circumcised. Inside I cringed but maintained my composure because I could still feel him watching me. She went on to explain that there were strict instructions for him to not move around so much. I looked at T.W. , his face was so sad. In looking at him though I got an idea. T. W. could still take class he just had to do it in his chair. I explained to the teacher that I would make sure to honor his mother’s wishes to not move around so much and that T.W. would take the entire class in his chair.
Before gathering the other children and going into the class room I told T.W. that he would be able to take class with us today and that he would be doing it in his chair. He looked at me puzzled. I explained to him that he would be dancing a liitle differently. He would still be moving his body to music and doing a lot of the things we were doing , the only difference is that he would do it from his chair. I told him he could do a lot from his chair and to prove it to him I asked him to show me all 6 ballet arm positions and name them as he did them.
HE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The expression on his face was priceless. He was elated! His whole expression changed and he was lit up like all the White House Christmas trees. With a big smile across his face we both celebrated. You see T.W. I told you, you could do it! Now lets go have that class. I gathered the other children and we went to class.
I carried T.W.’s chair, he walked into the classroom really, really slow as if he was a really old man rather than a 5 year old boy. He even hunched over as he walked. I sat T. W. down in his chair and proceeded to do our rythmn and timing exercise that all the kids love “Please, please say your name”. We all sat on the floor and T.W in his chair. We pointed and flexed our feet to the ”Toes Up Toes Down” song, T.W. pointed and flexed his feet from the chair. We rode on the train and T.W. pretended to be on the train too. We marched around to wake up our muscles, we woke up our eyes, arms, legs and other body parts moving in different ways around the room and so did T.W. from his chair.
T.W did Classical Ballet, Tap and Hip Hop dance all from his chair that day without me telling him how to do anything. I allowed him to use his imagination as well as do what he knew already. He did everything we did just a little differently but he did them with us nonetheless. I was really impressed with all the creative ways he came up with to do what we did. He was happy that he could participate and belong. We were all happy too.
Inside I thanked God that I get to do what I do for a living. T.W. walked out of the class as if he never had an operation. He was back to his normal self and was not in any pain. He was happy and so was I. He felt great and so did I. He found out that day that he could do something that he thought he would not be able to do. He was empowered.
With Pitter Patter Feet dance is used as a vehicle to transport children to a happy and empowered place. To learn about the world around them, and themselves, and reinforce what they learn in school. The curriculim is designed to make learning fun and to develop happy, fit and smart kids through dance.
How do you empower your children? I’d love to hear your thoughts and input to share with the community.
Peace and Empowerment,