Being the best Beginner you can be

At the start of many swing beginner lessons, I'm often reminded what it felt like to be a beginner and the journey so many beginners go through. From week 1 nerves and excitement, to frustration at one's self when finding a particular step difficult. There is a journey when it comes to learning something new, especially something you begin to truly develop a passion for. I am often asked by my students how they can improve their swing dancing - quickly. While everyone learns differently, there are common strategies I always suggest. I'm thrilled when a beginner reports back and tells me what worked best for them and they now "totally get it". I see their learning and passion for the dance explode over night! To be the best beginner you can be, you need to be focused, ready to learn and respectful at all times. Here are some strategies and tips to get your learning on point! 1) Respect. To Everyone. Always. Including Yourself. As a beginner, we often want to learn and progress as quickly as possible. Sometimes at the detriment of our partner or teachers. We're often so excited as beginners, we chat away, possibly missing out on key elements of your swing dancing. We can become so entrenched in our own steps, we forget to lead or to follow. We might want to blame our partner, or teachers. We believe your attitude reflects your ability to learn. And while we always expect and observe the best behavior from our students, it's easy to fall into the above traps. Keep a clear head, keep perspective. A step might be difficult, but keep trying and stay positive; you'll get there, it's just a matter of time! Be curious as opposed to intimated when learning something new. Ensure your mind is in the best possible state for learning. 2) Watch & Listen Every now and then a beginner will come into class, having never danced before. They'll pick the basics up twice as fast as everyone else, and feel comfortable doing so. These beginners listen with their body. Sometimes we become obsessed with the words - weight change, pivot, triple step. While words are fantastic, use your eyes to carefully observe your instructors as they demonstrate the movements while they teach. Watch the way they are holding their body, their frame, the way the move - is it smooth, is it linear or circular? Take these visual cues, and incorporate them into your own swing dancing. As a beginner, you are developing connection, footwork and a sense of feeling the music. Watch and listen to your instructors to absorb as much information as possible. During a class your teachers use a variety of techniques to convey information. We use words, sounds, numbers, quicks and slows to provide a wide scope of explanations. Listen and feel which techniques work for you - say them back to yourself, make a note of them, and even repeat them during the week leading up to your next swing dancing lesson. 3) Back Seat Teaching Have you ever heard the old saying 'The Blind Leading the Blind"? We love seeing our students get excited about learning to Swing Dance, although it is not appropriate to you, yourself, as a beginner, attempt to teach or show steps to other students during class. Your teachers are wonderfully skilled and have plans and strategies designed for optimal learning. If you have any questions or doubts, simply ask your teacher during an appropriate time, they would be more than happy to help clarify. This ensures a high quality of teaching and learning for everyone in the class. 4) Always be Punctual to Your Lessons We understand; sometimes life gets in the way and we can't help but be late to class, however, in order to be the best beginner you can be, you should always be on time - early, in fact! Missing parts of a lesson could mean you miss out on key elements of the dance. It also impedes your learning if you miss the warm up and revision at the start of class. You'll find yourself behind for the rest of the session. Instead, try a more proactive approach. Get to class nice and early - 15mins should be plenty of time for you to sign in, settle down, reset your mind from work or home life and even have a warm up dance - either practicing footwork and movement by yourself, or revisiting steps from the previous week with another student. We love seeing enthusiastic students practicing before or after class and it makes a world of difference to their swing dancing. 5) Ask Questions! Asking questions is a great way for you to engage with the teachers and absorb class content quickly. When asking questions during a group class, keep in mind the following: - Remain on topic - Be specific and concise - Is this an appropriate time for a question? Our teachers provide lots of opportunities and will always ask if anyone has any questions - those moments are perfect! - Will this question be answered in a few moments by your teachers? For example, asking what the footwork is when the teachers are illustrating the leading and following aspects. They will get to footwork momentarily. By taking the above into consideration, you'll be ensuring a quick and accurate response to your question - and you may be helping others with the same or similar questions! 6) Always Take Part in Class Rotation Rotating in class is the single most beneficial way to quickly improve your swing dancing and the easiest method to incorporate. All our group swing dancing lessons rotate partners frequently, ensuring you develop transferable skills and learn how to adapt your dancing. Rotating partners does wonders for your following and leading skills and keeps the atmosphere fun and energetic. Remaining with your partner for the duration of a lesson can become very intense, very quickly. I have seen this many times over - couples sticking together, then quickly becoming frustrated with one another. Keep it fun, join the rotation; it'll improve your dancing in no time and you'll meet so many other wonderful students! 7) Social Dancing & PRACTICE Of course, the best way to become great at anything is to practice practice practice. Ensure what you practice is correct, either by paying attention in class or by asking a teacher at your next session. You can do so much without a partner - practice frame, posture, footwork, pulse even for a few moments a day. Be as ready as you can be for when do partner up in class! Social Dancing can be a scary thought for many beginners, and I always suggest to them to check out a social night as quickly as possible! Being surrounded by other supportive swing dancers will help your dancing skyrocket. The swing community is welcoming and friendly, and we are always happy to dance with anyone of any level. If you are nervous, simply go out and have a look at everyone dancing. Maybe give the last half of a song a try. Even simple basics for half a song at a time on a social night will help you retain content! You'll be Swinging Out with confidence in no time! 8) Take Notes - Start a Class Journal After a few weeks then months of classes, you'll quickly experience the frustration of not remembering last week's step or always forgetting the same key elements of the dance. This is where keeping notes comes into play. During class breaks, why not jot down a few quick points you found useful. In Oprah Winfrey's words, the "A-HA!" moments. Over time you will build quite an impressive dance bible. Review your notes prior to class, keep your memory fresh and be ready to absorb new content, without wasting time relearning the same concepts many times over. 9) Have FUN You are only a beginner once - love every moment! Every week you are going to learn so much, and it will all feel amazing and magical. Share your passion with others, go social dancing with other beginners, watch videos, try new things. Treasure these moments. My fondest memories of dancing were always after class practice sessions or heading out to a social dance and feeling confident with friends. This is a whole new world, take it in and remember those feelings always. All our Swing Dancing Sydney classes focus on fun and quality dancing. We place an emphasis on being comfortable, having fun and learning a wonderful style of dance! #BeginnerDancing #SwingDance #RocknRollDance

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