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How Dance Classes can Make You a Better Musician

The relationship between dancing and playing an instrument is profound. When musicians take dance classes, they gain a deeper understanding of rhythm, timing, and the essence of musicality. This is because they learn to embody rhythm physically, which is a fundamental aspect of music that governs both melody and harmony. In turn, this connection makes it easier to grasp complex rhythmic patterns when playing an instrument.

Along with rhythm comes counting, often referred to as finding "the one" in a measure. This skill is also emphasized in dance classes, which aligns perfectly with instrument instruction. Musicians learn to count not just mentally but physically, enhancing their timing and rhythmic accuracy.

Dance is highly collaborative, much like ensemble playing. Through group practice and performance, musicians learn a sense of teamwork and communication, essential skills for any successful collaboration.

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Silhouetted couple dancing on a vibrant abstract violin bridge with colorful music notes flowing around

Musical rhythm and dance rhythm have always been connected. In fact, both are similar to our natural body rhythms. Music moves in a way that we can imitate with the movement of our bodies, and vice versa.

Dance is therefore very important for musicians to experience. It introduces them to various types of music, from the structured cadence of ballet to the spontaneous rhythms of jazz and the vibrant beats of salsa. This exposure is invaluable, as it teaches musicians to "feel"  the music, not just play their instrument.

But the mechanics of dance are also closely linked to those in music. It’s no surprise that counting in dance is both a technical and expressive skill. On one hand, counting helps choreographers structure performances, and dancers keep track of beats and rhythm. But it also allows dancers to internalize the rhythm and express themselves through movement.

This can be an invaluable skill for musicians, or at the least, good practice. Musicians can identify with the tempo, rhythm, and mood in dance, while learning to let go in the moment. In turn, feeling the music will create a deep connection, which can lead to more expressive, nuanced performances.

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Dancing has other benefits as well. As a physical artform, dancing builds endurance and teaches correct breathing. After taking dance lessons for musicians, a performer can improve their stamina and breath control. These skills are perfect for extended playing sessions and performances, and especially important for playing wind instruments.

And, if you’re a student, dance provides a holistic educational experience. Student activities that combine both cognitive and physical elements, like playing an instrument and dancing, have been shown to help students thrive. These students often develop a more rounded skill set, which includes better coordination, focus, and even academic performance.

In the end, music and dance are both forms of artistic expression that complement each other and are closely intertwined. When music and dance are combined, they create a powerful medium capable of expressing emotions, ideas, cultural traditions, and more.


Want to learn more? Check out our article on how students who play an instrument and a sport thrive

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