What's Your Learning Style?

Whenever we learn a new skill or block of information, there are certain ways in which we remember those details.  Since every person is unique, we obviously learn and retain information differently.  Taking this into account, researchers have figured out that there are seven commonly accepted ways that people learn.  These learning styles are auditory, visual, verbal, physical, logical, social, and solitary.  Many people can identify with at least one of these learning styles, but relate to a combination of one or more.  These learning styles primarily apply to how students learn in the classroom, but they can also be applied to learning and teaching other skills.  We are going to explore all seven of these styles and how they can be applied to dance.  By the end, you may even discover which ones work best for you so that you can improve as a dancer!



Auditory (also called ‘musical’ and ‘aural’) learners rely greatly on sound when they are picking up new skills.  As long as they can hear what is going on around them, they are comfortable.  These types of learners are also good with music.  For instance, they may remember details better if they have a tune or jingle that goes along with it.  Auditory learners make great musicians, but this learning style is beneficial for dancers, too.  As a dancer, you may identify with this learning style if:

·         You need to hear your instructor call out/prompt steps

·         Musical accompaniment is essential when you learn steps and choreography

·         You don’t fully understand steps until the music is added

·         Once the music is on, you can move with the rhythm and recognize cues from certain parts of the music

·         You prefer hearing things out loud rather than reading

·         You easily notice changes in tone or pitch to music

·         Music interests you as well as dance



These types of people learn best with their sight (also called “spatial” learners).  They need images, diagrams, symbols, or any other kind of visual aid to help them understand concepts.  All in all, dancers who are visual learners obviously retain information best when they can see their instructors.  If they are learning new steps they need to clearly see what is happening.  You may be a visual learner if:

·         You feel like you dance best when you can look at yourself in the mirror

·         You need to watch a live demo or video of other dancers doing choreography

·         You record a lot of videos in class to review them later

·         “Drawing out” steps or choreography in a notebook, so you can visualize it in a different way is helpful to you

·         You get frustrated when you cannot clearly see the instructor when you are in a crowded studio



Verbal (linguistic) learning is all about words and speech, but it’s different from aural learning.  Verbal learners are good with words and writing and prefer techniques where they are able to recite or write down information.  They are also successful with verbal instructions; if an instructor tells them how to complete a task without showing it, they will likely be able to do the task from verbal instructions alone.  Anything that involves role playing, speech, or scripting is good for these types of people.  In the dance realm, you may be a verbal learner if:

·         You remember steps after writing down notes

·         You need to call out steps as you execute them

·         You prefer it when instructors explain steps as they teach and use counts when showing choreography (5,6,7,8…)

·         Saying counts out loud to yourself helps you to learn new choreography

·         You can basically learn choreography and steps with your eyes closed (as long as you have verbal instructions!)

·         You get frustrated when your instructor is not speaking loud or clearly enough

·         Written instructions are enough for you to learn choreography and steps



In this style, learning happens when you do a physical (kinesthetic) activity.  Many people retain information just fine by listening to or watching others, but physical learners need to have a hands-on approach.  If you enjoyed gym class or attending labs where you could test out textbook theories, then this learning style may fit you.  Most dancers are also physical learners.  You may be a physical learner if:

·         You remember steps best after doing them yourself

·         Listening to or watching choreography isn’t enough to retain it.  You need to do it!

·         You feel frustrated if you don’t have enough space to dance

·         You are the type of person that needs to be active

·         You are a dancer.  Period.  It’s almost impossible to be a dancer without learning kinesthetically!



These types of learners are great with numbers (they are also called “mathematical” learners).  Logical types tend to classify and group information in order to help them understand it.  They also easily recognize patterns.  This learning style may not seem like it could relate to an artistic activity like dance, but many dancers need to use logical techniques in their lessons.  For instance, you may be a logical learner if:

·         Mentally separating choreography into chunks/sections helps you to remember it

·         You can recognize patterns or sequences easily when learning choreography or steps

·         You are a good problem solver: You can easily figure out alternate steps or change choreography if needed

·         Agendas and to-do lists in class are important to you

·         You rank lessons/dance subjects in order of importance for learning

·         You need counts in order to understand choreography



Not surprisingly, the people surrounding you can affect how you learn.  Social (interpersonal) learners work best when they are socializing and communicating with other people.  You’ll always find that they prefer to learn in groups.  You may be a social learner if:

·         You prefer group classes

·         Large class sizes don’t bother you

·         You get nervous when you have to dance alone or with less than two people

·         You enjoy bouncing ideas off of others in class

·         You are comfortable with a lot of socialization

·         Team projects excite you

·         Group goals are important to you

·         You’re able to focus on steps even in a crowded studio



Solitary (intrapersonal) learners are more comfortable figuring things out on their own.  This doesn’t mean that these types of people don’t work well in groups, but it does mean they do their best work when they are by themselves.  This learning style pairs very well with the other styles listed above, as well.  You may be a solitary learner if:

·         One-on-one lessons are your preferred method of learning

·         Your retention is best after an instructor works with you privately

·         You prefer when the studio is less crowded or empty

·         Personal goals are your primary focus

·         You get frustrated with lessons that point out information you feel you already grasp

·         Your concentration is best when you focus on your thoughts and feelings during class

·         Distraction happens fairly easily if the studio is crowded or if you feel others are disruptive

When people explore these learning styles, many find that they relate to two or more.  You may even discover that you identify with all of these.  Figuring out your learning style(s) can help you to develop your dance skills, but it can definitely beneficial for many other fields, as well.  Learning about yourself and finding out what works best for you is one of the best ways to guarantee that you are successful in whatever discipline you pursue!

Happy Dancing! ^_^