Learning new steps to a number of routines at a time is a challenge for most of us. It takes time!
Here are a number of ways to help you memorise your syllabus for the new physie year.
1. Break the routine into small bite sized pieces. Can you focus on 8 counts at a time? 4 counts? Even 2 counts if it is particularly challenging.
2. Know your positions. By knowing your Physie positions and their names you will know clearly the placement of your arms and legs. This makes remembering the patterns of choreography easier.
3. Count out aloud. Learning the counts to each step helps with staying in time with the music. It will also prompt you to remember moves when you have used the same counting over and over again as you begin to remember which move goes with which count.
4. Look for the patterns. Is there a pattern to identify? Do your feet move left, left, right then right, right, left. Does the routine begin on one side and repeat on the other?
5. Visualise an image. Think of an image to go with the movement. What comes to mind? For example, does a certain pose remind you of an animal, person or object?
6. Tell a story. Similar to the last point but take it one step further. For example, one 5 year old was able to remember a part of her routine by thinking of a mermaid sitting on a rock and then moving her body to look into the ocean. Once she found a treasure she lifted it up high to see! She could easily remember the sequence of moves based on the story she created in her mind.
7. Word cues and sound effects. Instead of counting each beat by number, say the steps as you go! “Tip-toe, bend, jump, pivot, clap, shake hips,” could be the words you say for the first 8 counts of a routine. The other helpful tip is to allow the sound effects that come to mind to prompt you. Instead of “shake hips” you might say “Woot Woo!”
8. Separate arm movements and leg movements by focusing on the steps of one part of your body before you put them together. Don’t forget to walk through where your head should turn and your eyes should look.
9. Front or reverse view. Recognise the way you prefer to follow your teacher? Do you learn best when you can follow by standing behind her or face to face when she walks through the steps as a mirror image. Your practice DVD may offer both ways to follow. If not, simply ask your teacher to walk it through the way you learn best and film it for practice at home.
10. Lyrics or musical cues. Sometimes the lyrics just help you out! Do you need to throw your arms up in the air when the song says “Up”? Does the music include clapping to remember when to clap or a strong drum beat when you are to jump? Listen carefully to your tracks without focusing on the steps and get to know the music. It might just jog your memory.
Be patient with yourself and allow yourself the time you need to memorise the syllabus. Stress will only slow down your ability to remember the steps. It can also be helpful to view the positives to coordinating the mind and the body. Many studies now show that dance increases cognitive function. Keep going! You will get there with fantastic benefits!
Do you have any other strategies that help you to memorise your routines?