Friday, April 19, 2013

Why Should I Take a Coaching Lesson?

In my 10 years as an instructor at Arthur Murray Dallas and Plano, one of the most frequently asked questions was "Why Should I Take a Coaching Lesson?" I'd like to take a few minutes to look at the concerns most students have and share the reasons why you should take advantage of this awesome opportunity as much as possible!

1) The number one reason that EVERY student regardless of level or ability should be taking a coaching is to LEARN something! The usual response to this is "Well, I still have so much to learn from my teacher. Shouldn't I learn all that stuff first?" The answer is "No!" You do have a ton of stuff to learn from your teacher, but we are talking about where you are in your learning RIGHT NOW, at this very moment. And sometimes, no matter how many times your teacher(s) tell you to do something, you just don't get it until another voice tells you the same thing a different way. Think about when you were a kid (or with your own kids) can tell the kids to clean their room 7,345,896 times, and they don't do it. But, when dad comes home as tells them to do it, it gets done. Another great example is the teacher on the Peanuts cartoons who always sound like this to the kids: "Wah wa wah wah wa." Coaches serve a vital role in your learning because they have the ability to tell you what your teacher has been trying to say in a new way. WARNING: You may encounter "the look" from your teacher when the coach sets off the lightbulb and you say "I never heard that before!"

2) Another reason why a coach is so important is that they offer a THIRD PARTY PERSPECTIVE. Your teachers, counselors, supervisors all see you learning and dancing day in and day out. A coach coming into the studio may have never seen you dance before, or may have only seen you dance several months ago on your last coaching. This outside perspective gives the coach the unique ability to look at your dancing with a fresh set of eyes. They will be able to pinpoint an area for improvement that may have been overlooked by your teachers because they see you on a regular basis. Think of it this way: When you have kids, you see them every hour or every day as they develop and grow. Your constant exposure may blind to you to certain areas of their growth and development simply because the changes are subtle. However, when the grandparents come into town, and they haven't seen the baby in several months, they are amazed at the growth and changes that you haven't really been noticing. OR: You've been trying to lose weight and because you are constantly looking at yourself and weighing yourself, you only see the tiny changes instead of the big picture. Then you run into someone you haven't seen for a few months and they are thrilled by how much weight you've lost! A fresh eye every now and again is imperative for your learning as well as for your teacher to gain another viewpoint on your progress.

3) Coaches can help guide your learning, too. Although your teacher certainly has a plan for your learning, having a coach come in can help to refine the teaching plan and the course your teacher will use to help you reach your goals. Coaches teach all over the world and see and hear so many different situations, learning styles, ways of explaining things, that they just bring a wealth of knowledge to every lesson they teach. Your teacher is always learning, too - that's what makes them so great - and seeing the coach work with you can help your teacher refine their teaching style to fit you even better than it already does!

4) Coaches are also a great resource for choreography. You can have them choreograph your next solo routine, or put together a cool sequence for freestyles. A coach can whip together choreography quickly, leaving your teacher the time to use the rest of your lessons to refine the technique and performance aspects of your routine. Save time by using the coach this way. And, as your dance ability grows, you can have another coach add to or adjust the routine in the future to keep it current and fresh.

5) You should take with every coach you can. Coaches all have different perspectives, different ways of teaching and explaining things, and different areas of concentration. You will learn something from each coach (just as you do from each teacher) and the result will be that you will become a well-rounded dancer!

6) A coaching lesson is like concentrated Orange Juice (thanks to Chris Lynam for this analogy). You take one lesson, and then your teacher will continue to use the material from that lesson for the next 10-12 lessons, taking a spoonful at a time and diluting the information as needed to make sure that you are mastering the greater concept. The student and the teacher are like sponges on the coaching lesson. The student's sponge will fill up quickly, and then the teacher will soak up the overflow - retraining the information for use in future lessons. It's getting 10-12 lessons worth of material in one shot. That is why it is imperative that your teacher is on the lesson with you and the coach. It ensures that you will get the maximum amount of material and impact from the coaching lesson.

7) Coaches are also great for introducing a new technique. Their wealth of experience can help make the initial introduction clear and easy, and your teacher can follow through with the finer points in your future lessons.

8) If you have a penchant towards the more competitive side of dancing, working with a wide variety of coaches can benefit you on the competition floor. You may notice at a Dance-O-Rama that the judges are often coaches we have brought into the studio. If you watch the judges, you can see them looking for different things. One judge may always look at footwork first, because they value that highly, another may look at the leg/hip action, while yet another may look for great posture or great presentation. If you have worked with all of these judges in coaching lessons, then not only will they have a familiarity with you, but they will also have each worked with you on different aspects of your dancing, again, making you that well rounded dancer that everyone enjoys watching.

Bottom line is: Coaching are worth it! They are a wise investment of your time and money because the return on them is so great and long lasting. The material you will learn in a coaching will not only have an immediate impact on your dancing, but will also have a lasting impact for may lessons to come. Take advantage of these opportunities whenever you can, I guarantee you won't regret it!

Amy Kasper
10 year veteran instructor and top teacher