How to Make the Most of Private Lessons

If you are a dancer who is taking private lessons, you may have a variety of objectives.  You may be dancing just for fun, taking lessons with a partner, or preparing for a show or competition.  Whatever your reason is, just know that private lessons are one of the best options you can choose when you go to a dance studio.  The primary perk is that the lesson is 100% focused on you (and your partner if you have one).  Group classes can be awesome, but these one-on-one lessons will allow you to work specifically on the dance elements that you love most.  Here are some ways to get the full benefit private lessons:

Have a Game Plan

It helps to walk into your studio already knowing what you want to work on.  If possible, think about your goals for the session.  Are you dancing just for fun?  Are you training for a competition?  Do you just want to work on technique?  Figuring out what you hope to achieve will help your lesson go by smoothly.  If you can’t think up a plan for yourself, ask your instructor for some suggestions!  It will also be very helpful for you to be aware of your own personal needs and limitations.  Not all dancers learn at the same pace and over time you will figure out what kind of learner you are.

Discover Your Style

In addition to coming in with a game plan, you can also discover which styles work best for you.  This is also something you can figure out over an extended period of time.  As you dive into a variety of styles with your instructor, you’ll start finding out which ones you really enjoy, which ones are easy for you, and which ones are difficult.  Some movements that are easy for one person may be hard for another, so take notice of the styles that you are most comfortable with.

Challenge Yourself

Of course it’s important to identify the dances and styles within your comfort zone, but it’s not good to stay in that zone forever.  To challenge yourself, you eventually will have to revisit the figures that you struggle with or work on the dances that you don’t like so much.  You may surprise yourself in the future – something that you once found difficult may soon turn out to be a walk in the park!  Make sure you are challenging yourself adequately, but also be sure not to overexert yourself.  You can always take a break and come back to a difficult step at a later time.

Get Proper Shoes

I discussed this point a bit in the previous blog post, but having functional shoes to dance in will make your lesson more satisfying.  If you don’t have actual ballroom shoes you don’t have to pull out your wallet right now.  Just make sure your shoes fit you well enough that they won’t fall off or trip you up.  If anything, you should bring comfortable shoes that you know will allow you to glide easily on the dance floor.

Ask for Help

I brought up asking questions before, and the same thing applies here: if you have a question about a dance move or any other technique, don’t hesitate to ask about it.  Likewise, if you are struggling with a step, let your instructor know so they can help you out!  Since you are taking a private lesson, you have more freedom to ask as many questions as you want because it is your lesson.  So, take advantage of the opportunity to get some answers!  You can also use your lesson to learn new steps.  If there is a particular figure or dance that you are interested in learning, you should definitely ask your instructor to show it to you.

Take Notes

When I say “take notes” I don’t literally mean that you have to pull out a notebook and jot down every word your instructor says as if you are in a lecture.  You can “take notes” however it suits you.  Most dancers take mental notes of their instructor’s statements.  Others will video record themselves or an instructor so that they can see how they look and see where they can apply corrections.  In some cases dancers will actually write their own notes to look over later, but it really depends on the individual.  As mentioned earlier, all dancers have different ways of learning things, so just figure out what works best for you!  In any case, it’s very important to consider pointers and apply any corrections your instructors give you.

Performance Opportunities

Performing isn’t for everyone, but it may be beneficial to at least think about it.  Performing can really help you develop as a dancer because it makes you more conscious about technique and the overall quality of your dancing.  Even just the process of preparing a routine is a great experience; you’ll get to focus on enhancing certain movements and can even play around with themes and choose interesting music!  Performances are also something that can help you to get out of your comfort zone.  Ultimately, they can be really fulfilling experiences that make you feel good in the end.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

As always, it’s very important to practice the moves that you’ve been learning in your lessons.  Not only does “practice make perfect”, but it also helps you to remember your steps.  If you really want to improve as a dancer you should be going over your steps at home.  Depending on how much space you have, your mobility may vary when you are outside of the studio, but you’ll still be giving yourself a pretty decent review of the figures.  Another great way to practice is to attend practice parties.  This way you will have a proper dance floor and multiple partners to dance with (plus, they’re fun and you’ll get food)!

Be Consistent

Everything you learn in private lessons will stick better if you go to your studio at least once a week.  Most dancers who are looking to improve their skills take weekly lessons.  This type of consistency will also ensure that you remember the dance steps you learn.  If you are really ambitious, you can even start taking classes multiple times a week!

Enjoy Yourself!

Finally, one of the goals of your private lesson should always be to leave the studio feeling good about yourself.  This doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you mastered a dance style or executed a figure perfectly.  Your instructors are there to make you better dancers, but primarily they want to make sure you are having a good time.  Try not to stress about perfection or rack your brain trying to remember steps if it’s just going to make you unhappy by the end of the day.  Above everything else, dancing should make you smile!

Happy dancing! ^_^