100 tips for working with ballet pianists #23: Know when it’s good to work without music
Although it’s great to have music for class, be sure in your own mind what role it plays, so that you know when not to use it. Some examples:
- With no music, students can practise jumping as high as they can, not just as high as the music allows.
- A wonderful teacher that I’ve worked with called Charles Mudry, uses no music for his stretching and limbering exercises before pliés. It makes sense – if the purpose is to stretch, then individual dancers are going to want a bit more or less ‘stretch’ in the music, and there’s no tempo that will accommodate everyone.
- Movements which are rhythmically or technically complex are probably better practised in silence or at least with a purely rhythmic accompaniment such as finger clicks or vocalisations before trying to set them to music
- The absence of music can make the heart fonder and more responsive towards music when it’s there. By contrast, too much music may lead to a case of familiarity breeding indifference.