I’ve heard from several people that it’s hard to remember what they learned in lessons. So a few of us came up with an idea: use audio cues to help students remember what they learned so they can practice. I managed to get three volunteers as my guinea pigs.

Volunteer #1: MichaelMichael and Pantea edited

Michael was taking private lessons with Pantea, who teaches at Alberto’s. Although he’s supposed to practice, he doesn’t have a practice partner and finds the routines difficult to remember on the social dance floor. So I took the videos of routines in which Pantea gave him audio cues such as “raise your hand,” and painstakingly turned them into one audio file with three routines.

Result

I had Michael wear a bluetooth headset as we practiced to the audio file.61rsnlpuszl-_sl1500_ Several issues quickly arose: the audio cues weren’t enough to remind Michael of the routines. There weren’t enough audio cues for each step of the routine, plus no lead-in of what routine was about to be cued. Plus, Pantea was occassionally counting 1-2-3 and 5-6-7, which wouldn’t match the music. So Michael ended up watching the videos on his computer instead of listening to the audio. Also, he would never wear a bluetooth headset while out social dancing.

Volunteer #2: My Husband

I think the audio cues idea was initially my husband’s idea. So I made an audio file that said the names of different Salsa variations from Social Dance 1 YouTube Playlist with pauses in between each name. Then we practiced to Salsa music.

Result

My husband loved it! After all, it was his idea. Though to truely randomize, he suggested I make separate audio files for each variation, put them together in a playlist, and then put them on shuffle. Ideally, he’d also like to adjust the pause between each variation. If it was a dance in which he already knows a lot of variations, he doesn’t need audio cues as frequently. He even suggested starting the audio cues one min after the song starts or having a code word that would start the cues, so he can try variations he remembers first.

Volunteer #3: Bill13633379_1055995197848628_255102785_o

Since my husband doesn’t go out for social dancing very often, I needed another volunteer to test outside of our home. Bill was super nice and agreed to try on the social dance floor. He brought his own bluetooth headset, and I made audio files for Swing and Nightclub 2-Step, again from Social Dance 1 YouTube Playlist.

Result

It was very obvious that he was wearing a bluetooth headset when dancing when me, and friends even came by to inquire about the headset. In the end, it was unnecessary for a dance he knows well, Swing. And for a dance he doesn’t know well, Nightclub 2-Step, it was hard for him to listen to the music and the audio files at the same time, especially when he doesn’t know some of the variations by name yet.

ConclusionScreenshot_2016-08-02-13-09-38

While this was a nice idea, these audio cues have very limited use:

  1. It’s useful if you learn the names of each variation. While Richard Powers teaches the names of variations, many other dance instructors teach routines without giving names. So it’s hard for students who don’t know variation names to use audio cues. Although someone could review Social Dance 1 YouTube Playlist before using the audio cues, few people would go through that effort.
  2. It’s only useful for dances you know somewhat well such that you know most of the variations by name, but either don’t know well enough to remember all the variations or haven’t danced for a while and need a reminder.

So instead of using the audio cues, it may be easier to watch videos when practicing with one person, or ask your partner to remind you of different variations.

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