As a dance teacher, I can sometimes get frustrated with the progress of my students. I think back to when I was a student and I knew I could not show up to the next rehearsal or class without having achieved the steps I may have struggled with in the previous class. How was I to ensure that my teacher's expectation was met? I practiced until I got it right.
We are now living in an age where students believe that the only time they must practice is when they have class or rehearsal. They would much rather spend their free time on electronic devices, social media, or Netflix. There are just so many other distractions and things to do besides practicing. On the contrary, students need to develop their work ethic and discipline outside of the studio. For every hour they are in the studio, that should be matched by another hour outside of the studio, perfecting their craft and building their stamina.
When students practice outside of class they make the time spent reviewing steps less and then the teacher can spend more time introducing new vocabulary, concepts, and steps. It will enhance the student's overall experience with their craft. They will develop a passion and commitment to dance. Also, parents who pay for lessons will get more for their buck because teachers can get further in their lesson plans and offer more challenges to the students. Finally, if these students plan to become a professional dancer someday, then they will be prepared for dancing everyday, practicing on their own, and coming to each rehearsal prepared to learn new choreography. It could make the difference in whether they make the cut or not.
I encourage teachers to remind their students of their responsibility to practice outside of the studio. I end each class telling students what they need to work on and start each class asking if they practiced during the week. Hold them accountable and compel them to save room in their busy lives to practice before they return to the next class. Dancers should have homework every week! I also encourage parents to make sure their child is doing their homework. After all, parents are investing their hard earned dollars in their child's dance education. Shouldn't you make the most of it?