Tap Dance – It’s all in your head!

Dancing FeetYes, I know tap dance is physical. There is anatomy, movement and muscle memory that are all integral to teaching students.

The BRAIN, however, is crucial to tap.

One teaching technique that allows the brain to learn faster and more efficiently is chunking.

Chunking is the idea that you put anything you teach into small pieces. Those pieces then fit together to form ribbons of knowledge that, again, fit together in various ways to allow you to remember larger amounts of information. This is critical to learning science, math, and many other subjects.

It is exactly the way tap dancing is taught. Chunks! Often when you are showing a new step or series of steps, the students are disconcerted or disheartened at the jumble of taps or intricacy of movements. However, through chunking, the students can more easily break down, learn, and maintain the new steps.

It is only natural to teach chunks of tap. We all do it. Put simply, you teach a shuffle in one lesson. You teach a ball change in another. During the third lesson, you put them both together.

Scientifically speaking, a chunk is a network of neurons that are accustomed to firing together so that you can think a thought or perform an action smoothly and effectively. Focus and repetition help to strengthen the neural pathway that is formed when you first learn the chunk.

Artistically speaking, the beauty of learning in chunks is that you can be creative. You are not stuck with one particular step to use over and over. You put the chunks together in new and creative ways.

In the meantime, your brain is using that neural pathway that has become stronger and stronger each time you do the step or even THINK about the step!

As I work on reclaiming my tap skills learned so long ago and especially in teaching my classes, I am having a wonderful time incorporating science and other processes into my practice.

I LOVE TO TEACH TAP AND I LOVE TO TAP DANCE! I smile every time I put on my shoes. I’m going to explore how this feeling can be explained through science, psychology, sociology, technology and probably many other -ologies. In the meantime, please know that I’m enjoying every difficult step that I finally master, every new song I hear that is perfect for teaching a flap, every time one of my students does something she’s never done before and looks at me with that amazed expression on her face. It’s always a joy. It’s tap.




3 responses to “Tap Dance – It’s all in your head!

  1. You’re a great teacher! Yes, by teaching us in ‘chunks’ it is not so overwhelming.

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