Greetings once again True Believers. Today I’d like to discuss a personal observation I’ve seen come up enough times to become a pattern. Many times on this blog I’ll explain observations that other people have noted comma this was all coming from me.

Among the many things that I witness on a daily basis, one of the things that is the most alarming is the lack of preparation from students in regards to taking a private lesson. So, in the interest of helping you out and making your private lessons more productive, I’d like to provide the following suggestions. As always, my comments are meant to help you out and be more efficient with your time dancing.

Ok, onward!

1) Be prepared! One of the things that I noticed my coach disliked in my own private lessons was when I didn’t have any clue as to what I wanted to do during the lesson. Think of it like this, I am scheduling a time to work with someone who has knowledge in a particular field, and I am paying him or her to share some of that knowledge with me. Now then, I first have to identify the things that I’m lacking in my own understanding to specifically ask questions that would help me improve in that area. Let’s take a salsa dance class for example. Let’s say I’m going to take a private lesson and before walking in the door, I know that I have trouble with spins, my leading, balance, and overall coordination. Don’t you think my instructor would find this information helpful? While it is certainly beneficial to listen to your coach tell you what they believe to be wrong, but it’s extremely useful for us teachers on the other end to know what you want to work on individually. Now some new students really do need to take it from the top and learn basics, and that’s okay but for more intermediate and advanced students it would be valuable to walk in having a really solid game plan.

2) Embrace The Grind! Now this is my own personal philosophy, but I am a big believer in technique. So much so that many of my private lesson students will tell you that I have them dancing by themselves quite a bit of the time. The reason for this? Because they have to be personally responsible for their own dancing and not rely on me to dance for them. This can probably be expanded upon for one other full block, but I’ll just leave that at that. I would ask my coach what drills or technique could I practice improving in an area that I’m currently weak. Having something very specific to work on to address an issue is a very effective way to improve my dancing and yours too! So, don’t go in expecting or wishing to hang on to your instructor for dear life and having them move you around the floor. On the contrary, you should welcome the opportunity to focus on your dancing and personal ability to get things done. Have your instructor guide you through the technical drills to address any weaknesses, and you’ll quickly see how beneficial this approach can be.

3) Perform! This one seems obvious, and it appears to be the approach taken by most instructors that I’ve come across. I’m noticing that people are quick to perform when they’re still not ready, and quite frankly that’s what usually gets thrown on the stage. The truth is, I love seeing new and eager people get on stage, I just wish the best for them and empower them to have a positive experience. Even better, we never know who’s going to be the next big Latin dance star in our community! The reason I would suggest performing is not so much about the performance itself but rather the ability to learn choreography. While picking up movements is a skill in and of itself, it’s also beneficial because it allows you to practice your technique while performing actual dance steps. I used to be very guilty of leaning too heavily on the technical aspects of dance and not enough on the act of dancing itself. Trust me, we’re all works in progress! A delicate balance of the two is most likely the best formula for keeping a student motivated and continually improving. In a city like Chicago we’re blessed to have many contests Kama socials and Congress. Students who have the wherewithal to take private lessons would be smart to use these events as opportunities to set goals and motivate themselves to work hard on their dancing. Don’t forget there’s also the opportunity to perform with your coach in a Pro-Am situation. I think the influx of students dancing with their teachers is highly beneficial as it allows the students to dance with someone of a higher level. Also, if it’s a contest, who knows, you might even win exclamation point

Remember that private lessons are an extremely valuable way to progress in your dancing. I would highly recommend them to anyone who’s looking to get better and reap the benefits that dance can provide. The fact that you’re spending your hard-earned money on your dance education is not lost on us teachers but it would be fantastic if you came prepared and vested in your own growth.

As a final note, please know that particular questions that are asked in class are much better suited to be addressed in a private lesson. Teachers aren’t always trying to pull a fast one when they suggest a private session. A more eager student needs to have advanced concepts explained in a one-on-one class. This way the student is more likely to be able to not only understand the concepts but be able to have an actionable plan to apply them to their own dancing. Having taken countless private lessons myself, I’m a huge proponent!

The next time you take a private lesson at MMA, make sure you’re ready! If you need help preparing, don’t hesitate to ask your teacher in advance what’s the best way to proceed in the private lesson. You might be given some suggestions that you hadn’t even thought of.

As always, please like and share this post if you enjoyed it and found it beneficial.

Until next time, to your dancing…

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