Music plays a key role in dance education. Young dancers need the opportunity to develop listening skills, rhythm awareness and musicality in order to dance with true expression and artistry. Often finding music that fits teaching goals and students taste can be a challenging and lengthy process for dance educators. Parents may also find it difficult to find music to play at home that is suitable for young ears. Here are some of our music suggestions for ballet, jazz and creative dance for young children.
Contrast and Continuum Vol.1-4: Music for Creative Dance by Eric Chappelle
This set of 4 instrumental CDs should be in every dance educators library. Eric Chappelle's compositions contrast tempo, pitch, texture and other musical elements providing music stimuli dancers can creatively respond to for exploration or creating exercises. The pieces have a variety of meters and tempos perfect for practicing dance skills such as skips, gallops, jumps, marches, runs, balances, etc. Chappelle also uses a variety of compositional form (ABA, Suite, Theme and Variation, etc.) that are very useful for simple choreography.
Another benefit to the Contrast and Continuum Collection is the CD jackets include dance activity ideas by Anne Green Gilbert of the Creative Dance Centre. These activities can provide dance educators, school teachers and parents a great starting point in their lesson development. Anne Green Gilbert's books Creative Dance for All Ages and Brain Compatible Dance Education provide dance educators with an even larger resource library to draw from while using the Chappelle CDs.
Rhythm Basket by Brent Lewis
Brent Lewis' Rhythm Basket is a joyful romp of favorite children's songs with a twist. All the songs have been arranged and performed on pitched drums. Human beings instinctively respond to the driving pulse of drum beats and I have seen the same reaction from the children in my classes when using selections from Rhythm Basket. These songs work well for skill development, obstacle courses and instrumentation/beat activities. Often children in my classes will burst out joyfully with the song title when they recognize the tune.
Rhythm Basket is available for purchase on iTunes.
Step Lively by Marian Rose
Marian Rose, a Canadian musician, dance educator and writer, has created a trio of CDs and accompanying books entitled Step Lively. These lively CDs include songs suitable for traditional folk and circle dances, square dancing, and singing games for elementary aged children and family groupings. The songs also work well for gross motor skill development in primary jazz, ballet and creative dance classes. These CDs and books would also be a great resource for physical education and music teachers.
The Step Lively collection can be purchased on Marian Rose's website. Here you will also find free resources and articles relating to children's dance and music education.
Hip Hop Music For Kids by Christopher "Zondaflex" Tyler
Popular music that is kid friendly and parent approved can be one of the biggest challenges facing dance educators. While even our youngest dancers like busting a move to upbeat music, much of today's pop and hip hop music has questionable lyrics and content for little ears. As a dance teacher and mom I was thrilled to stumble across the various CDs and singles produced by Christopher "Zondaflex" Tyler. Mr. Chris is a hip hop dance instructor, music producer, and father from Nashville, USA. He has created a large library of hip hop songs appropriate for preschoolers and elementary aged children.
In many of his songs the lyrics tell the dancers (and teachers) what moves to do. This helps younger children remember choreography as they sing or rap along with Mr Chris. He has also created songs for warm ups, stretching, conditioning and skill development for hip hop, jazz, tap and creative dance classes. His CD Mr Chris' Hip Hop Beats is a wonderful collection of different Hip Hop beats and tempos perfect for across the floor skills, improvisation, and student choreography. Mr Chris' Holiday Mix Tape is another great collection of seasonally themed songs that are crowd pleasers at parent sharings and recitals.
Mr Chris has also created a YouTube channel that includes video tutorials of many of his songs. This is perfect for new teachers or for students who want to practice at home. He has also recently published Mr Chris' Hip Hop Manual (available on Amazon) featuring step by step breakdown of key hip hop moves, glossary, history & teacher certification test! Great for teachers, students and as a studio reference.
Mr. Chris's music is available for purchase on iTunes or locally (Edmonton) at J'Adore Dance Studio.
Putumayo Kids by Putumayo World
Putumayo World Music was established in 1993 to introduce people to the music of the world’s cultures. The Putumayo Kids division was created to introduce children to other cultures through fun, upbeat world music. Putumayo Kids has become one of the world’s leading children’s record labels, winning critical acclaim and honors from Parents’ Choice Awards and many others. The company’s commitment to helping communities in the countries where the music originates has led to the label contributing more than one million dollars to worthwhile non-profit organizations around the world. Upbeat and melodic compilations of great international music characterized by the company’s motto: “guaranteed to make you feel good!”
As a dance educator and parent I love the variety of high quality music available in a various Putumayo Kids Playground and Dreamland Collections. From Latin, Jazz, African, Rock and Roll, French, Caribbean and many, many other genres Putumayo does not dumb down music for kids. Instead it creates lively collections that support children's developing sense of musicality and curiosity about music and dance from a global perspective. Putumayo Kids music inspires students in all areas of their dance education!
As part of their commitment to local economies Putumayo music is only available for purchase at specialty music, record and bookstores and some dance studios. Putumayo Kids Music can be purchased locally (Edmonton) at J'Adore Dance Studio.
Intellidance Gift Certificate Giveaway!
We are always looking for new music to introduce to our dancers! Leave a comment between 09/04/13- 09/10/13 on the blog with your family's favorite music to dance to and we'll enter you in a draw for a $50 gift certificate good towards any Intellidance program in Alberta, a set of babylegs, a Putumayo Kids Sampler CD, and a set of Intellidance Egg Shakers. Valid only to residents of Alberta, Canada.