Friday, January 15, 2010

Shhhhh! -Making the Dance Room Quiet

Friday is the day I become a teaching artist (smile). Today, I worked with second grade on ballet stories for a mini performance they will do in February as their culminating project. The last few times I have gone I have noticed that the students have a hard time moving their bodies without moving their mouths. Now, I know that this is pretty challenging for young kids, but by second grade I would hope they could grasp the concept that we don't talk in a dance. I tell them that a dance is told with our bodies, not with our mouths. Todays classes got me thinking about different quiet signals and things teachers use to get their students quiet and ready to listen. Here are some things I have tried:

1) Hand up over head- peace sign with fingers
2) Drum
3) I will wait...
4) Clap a rhythm
5) Lights off
6) Shhh Shhh Shhh in a rhythm
7) Thank you _______(name) for listening
8) I like the way _____ (name) has a calm body and is waiting for what I will say next...
9) Excuse me- This is me being louder than you...
10) Show me your best listening body.

I am sure there are a million more! A great teacher of mine once told me that a loud dance room is a learning dance room. I completely agree, but I also think that an important lesson for students is to learn, make, teach and perform a dance they have to be able to move their bodies without moving their mouths.

Do you do anything special to get your kids quiet? A saying, a signal? Do you sound like a broken record every class? Do you change signals for different age groups? I would love to hear! Sharing what you use might be so helpful to someone else!

In the meantime movecreateeducate...


  1. True to Lori form, I go with the class... one group of babies (3yr olds) wouldn't always listen last year. I would pretend to fall asleep when they would get crazy. This got them to look at me and get quiet to see if I was really sleeping. Once I had their attention I told them why I was sleeping (cause they weren't listening) and then we would move on. It made them laugh but they payed attention after that. One time I was out of the room before class started discussing recital stuff with the parents and I came in the room to find all the kids asleep! They said I wasn't listening to them so they fell asleep!!! I had to laugh and at the same time, I was glad they got the point of what I was doing. It was very cute!

    I will use your suggestions, too. I have trouble with my 8-10yr olds. They just get excited to be there! :)

  2. I love this idea! I use this sometime too, but sometimes it gets them so riled up. I love that they were asleep when you came out of the room. What a great moment you will never forget!

    For this post I am having trouble with 2nd grade at schools. They have to be there and so they don't get to choose. It makes for a different challenge. Thank you for your comment! I love to hear your ideas! xoxo

  3. I think that this is one of the biggest challenges for dance teachers!

    For the little ones I like to use "if you can hear me...." and then an action like clap three times, put your finger on your nose, etc. I keep doing it until everyone is playing the game and then the last one is "if you can hear me say shhhhhhhhh" with the finger over the mouth.

    Another classic one that usually works is "one, two, three, eyes on me" and they say "one, two, eyes on you" and everybody says shhhhhh! This is used in schools a lot too so the kids are usually used to it.

    In tap class I like "glue" because it's usually their feet that make more noise than their mouths....

    For the older kids I've tried the "I'll wait" or "are you done" and depending on the dynamic of the group (especially if you have kids who are forced to be there) they won't care and they will just let you wait. So if it gets really out of control I raise my voice just a little and tell them that they are wasting my time, or I've even left the room.

    I love tossing ideas with other teachers! This is great.....