Two ways in which poor music editing can lead to students who quit dance

Recently, there was a great conversation about the value of music editing as it pertains to dance studios in the Facebook group Dance Teacher Network. As I’ve outlined previously, there is much more to quality music editing for choreography than simply making a cut and calling it a day. Good music editing for choreography takes into account song structure as well as employs a variety of audio engineering techniques when needed. But there are two specific cases where poor music editing can completely frustrate a dancer, and in extreme cases, may even lead a student to quit dance entirely!

There are two kinds of poorly executed music edits that can lead dancers to quit: Awkward fade-outs and too much repetition

The first kind of poor music edit is one that robs the dancer of the applause that he or she so very much deserves after performing a routine. This poor choice is when a dance group or soloist’s song is simply faded out without any thought as to how the music should flow from start to finish. These type of fade-outs usually have the performer(s) dancing off the stage at an awkward point in the song; at a point where the audience isn’t expecting the routine to end because the music does not sound like it’s supposed to end. So the dancer is all the way off stage before the audience realizes that the routine is over, and there is a hesitation before they start to applaud. AND, the dancer is now not on the stage to properly feel, and fully receive, the audience’s applause. In extreme cases, this leaves a young, fledgling dancer who is timid, or a little bit uncertain of their dancing abilities, feeling like the audience may not have really appreciated their routine after all. Instead, always put a button on the music to ensure the dancer(s) receive the applause they deserve while on stage!

The second, and even more direct route where a bad music edit can lead to a dancer quitting entirely is when there is too much repeating left in the music edit for a young soloist. This can happen no matter whether it’s a competition solo or a recital solo. When too much repetition is left in the music, it is extremely easy for a dancer to lose track of where they are in the song and thus where they are in the choreography. When the music repeats over and over (especially choruses that repeat and verses that repeat), the dancer doesn’t have the “help” of the music or lyrics to serve as auditory cues as to where they are in their choreo and what comes next.

Properly edited music for dance has all possible repetition removed. This is an aspect that the vast majority of DIY music editors (and even many audio professionals who have not studied the intersection of dance and music) fail to realize. Music with too much repetition retained leads to students who more easily lose track of where exactly they are in their choreo, an especially big problem in solos where you can’t cue off of another dancer. In these cases, the person creating the music edit doesn’t even realize that the repetition in the music is a big contributor to the problem. And if a student doesn’t not have the “help” of the music to help them remember their choreo, then that leads to frustration, which can lead to quitting dance entirely.

I’m sure you have viewed hundreds and hundreds of solo routines in competition as I have, and therefore you know that at a large comp, there will ALWAYS be at least one young soloist who runs off the stage sobbing because they forgot their choreo under the bright lights of the stage. I have come to the conclusion that poorly edited music containing too much repetition is a major contributing factor to these breakdowns.

Of course, sometimes a dancer who forgets their choreo returns later to the stage and performs triumphantly, but some of these dancers decide to quit dance forever right then and there. Why risk it? Why lose young dancers forever due to poorly thought-out music edits? Sure, there are sometimes when a student forgets their choreo, even with perfectly edited music. But no one wants their students to experience these kind of choreo-forgetting melt-downs.

You, as choreographer and teacher, pour your heart and soul into your choreo, into teaching your students, and cleaning their routines. You spend hours picking out the perfect costume to match your choreo. You deserve to have perfect, optimized music to match the effort you put into every other aspect of the dance, and you deserve to have music that actively helps your dancers remember their choreo instead of being a stumbling block.

This is why Squirrel Trench Audio music is created with the UTMOST care and precision — with song structure analysis to eliminate all possible repetition, ensuring that each music edit is a complete soundtrack, start to finish, that is ideal for choreography. Squirrel Trench Audio even has more than 1,000 clean song edits and remixes available in our archives. Check the listing for the songs that you want and email me or use this form to send me your music requests or for more information.

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