Monday, October 26, 2009

Beginners? What to do?

(Email from LKDJQ)

Hi Guys
I figured out how to do "reply all."
I have a couple thoughts. One is, please come and celebrate Halloween with us this coming
friday. If you want to bring goodies and/or dress up, so much the better.I'll bring something tasty and have a seasonal program.

Also may I make a suggestion for the future? I know we are continuing to struggle with attempting to expand the group. It is always a challenge to know how to attract new people, keep them once we get them there, integrate them into a class of people who've been doing this for eons, stuff like that. I know there are no easy answers and everyone is trying their best. But personally I don't think it's fair to me--or any other teacher--to have to keep preparing classes week after week only to have a beginner straggle in at the last minute; have to completely jettison the plans; subject the entire group to the "introductory" class time after time after time--especially when none of these people ever seems to come back.Let's face it, this activity is NOT for everybody. When somebody says "ouch" when asked to stand with her heels together, it's a pretty fair bet she will not become a regular. And, unlike contradancing or square dancing, this is not really an activity one can get much out of by coming once. I understand that people have to start somewhere but i'm thinking that whatever advertisement we're putting out there is giving a somewhat misleading impression. If you're awaiting hip or knee replacement or haven't moved in 20 years this just isn't the activity for you. I would appreciate it if, in the future, we prescribe a time frame when people can start--like within the first four weeks of the season, say. That seems to me like a generous amount of time and might convey to people that it's an activity that has a learning curve. In addition or alternatively, we could say beginners can come for the first hour of the evening. That's the way New Haven handled it when i first started. And that's what ended up happening the night the two elderly ladies came. That works for everyone, the first half of the class can be review and instruction, then the people who really want to dance have a chance to do so; The beginners can stay and watch and get an idea of what it's really about. You may not realize it but most classes of this nature do not grind to a halt to accommodate rank beginners. Anyway, these are some things i've been thinking about. I welcome input or alternative suggestions-



Peter1672 said...

Leslie's suggestion is one way to cope. I have had success with another way. You don't have to dumb the class down to introductory levels. What I have done is definately ease up on the program but most importantly make the newbies *comfortable* - it is ok to make mistakes, it is ok to hit overwhelm, it is ok not to be perfect. When I have had beginners late in the season i have not changed what I am doing and the beginners are still here. I used the opportunity to really break down the dances and teach each piece like no one had seen them before. Every one benefited.

But I do agree that beginners have to be comfortable with MOVING in order to have a good time and stick around for more.


S2K-Lassie (Joyce) said...

As the newbie in the teaching arena, I have really struggled with this. The teacher who teaches the weekly class I attend seems to integrate the new dancer very well, but the dancers in the class are very good at getting the new person through the dance.

The class that I teach although a great group doesn't have the enough experienced dancers to get a new person through a dance with any degree of comfort. They do try but it seems that I never get one new dancer I get several and they never seem to come in at the start of the night but once we are into dancing and I have already taught the basics, reviewed the figures and identified those dancers who are going to need help to get through the dance.

Last year I changed the format of the class to have the beginners for the first hour only, and encourage them to stay and watch the 2nd part. I have found that this works for this group. I also find that if I keep it simple for one hour it doesn't fry everyones brain and have all the dancers stressed out, or the sets breaking down and no one having fun