Why are educated instructors so important?
In so many sports and extra curricular activities, coaches and instructors are not educated at the college level or certified in whatever they are teaching. In most cases this is completely completely fine and the norm in such things as "little league" sports or even some competitive sports. However in dance this should never be the case. Education is extremely important and just as importantly is continuing education and training to always be on top of the game.
Damage can be done to children's developing bodies.
- Many parents will stop and think, "well how much damage can an inexperienced, uneducated dance instructor do to my child, she is only 7," unfortunately lots of damage can be caused by simply not being educated on what is proper placement and what is executable for the young still developing body.
- For instance, teaching of the splits should come a bit later in dance education, specifically after age 7. Several things should be taken into consideration before executing the split, as to not cause injury. First other stretches should be used to create flexibility and range of motion. For instance simple hamstring stretches are essential to preparing for the splits. The hamstrings often become tight in children as their legs grow longer when they become taller. If the child has difficultly with simple hamstring stretches then the splits should not be attempted until more flexibility is gained in the hamstring. Secondly the ability and maturity to follow directions is critical for more intense stretches such as the split. Thirdly is understanding the right time to do the more "extreme" stretching. Never should splits be done at the beginning of class when the body and muscle are not properly warm. Any qualified teacher should know that the splits should only be done after a proper warm up. In a ballet class this would go after pliés, small leg warm ups, and hip warm ups such as rond de jambes. In another style class such as jazz or modern splits should only be done after properly getting warm and other stretches such as hamstring stretches and lunges. One huge thing that should never be done to a dancer in the splits is pushing them down forceful or quite frankly pushing them at all!
- Other damage that can be done to children's bodies because of uneducated teachers includes early formation of bunions and chronic knee problems. Many of these can be cause by an instructor telling students to forcefully turn out or not correcting improper usage of the feet, knees, and body placement. Simple bad posture or incorrect body alignment can cause tons knee issues.
Improper training leads to stress down the road
- To give you a better picture of how this can be stressful, I will tell you a personal story to shine light at the problem. When I was five I began taking piano lessons from a elderly lady for a mere $25 a month. (Yes that is ridiculously inexpensive). It was great (so I thought), I was learning notes and how to play songs in knew from show tunes or movie theme songs. It was all great until I started high school where I was in a high prestigious music program and taking private voice lessons, and eventually private piano. What I never realized and neither did my parents smitten with the fact that they were getting a great deal on piano lessons and that my instructor was easily located in the back of my neighborhood, was that I was missing a huge part of musical education, music theory. Music theory incorporates a vast number of things including how to count specific time signatures, identifying what key you are playing in through the circle of fifths, and much much more in which a intermediate to advanced student must know to fully grasp the music. Needless to say this was extremely stressful, because I had to go back to square one and relearn much of what I thought I had already mastered in the 8 years I had been taking piano from the little old lady in the back of the neighborhood. This is completely true for dance.
- Technique in dance is the fundamentals of dance and how a specific step in correctly executed. Dance technique is the proper way to do anything in dance. Dance technique is essential to the success of any dancer. But technique must be taught because not everything in dance is viewable and understandable by just watching. Technique is important in all types of dance from ballet to tap dance. If proper technique is not taught muscles can be developed incorrectly causing bulky muscles rather than the long lean muscles dancers strive for, injury can cause irreversible damage to the dancers body, and if the dancers get far enough to pursue dance further in life huge amounts of stress can be caused due to having to correct incorrect training. Unfortunately technique is not taught at every studio, in fact doing things on the right and left side is becoming less and less common, due to lack of trained instructors.
Our promise at Sunflower State Dance (est. 2015) is to only provide well-educated teachers who are continually being trained in technique, injury prevention, and much more. All of our teachers have degrees in dance or are pursuing degrees in dance at the college level. Be sure to check out our blog What We've Been Up To This Summer to see what continuing education our instructors have been doing!