I am looking for effective resources for teaching a small group of instructors-in-training how to cue on the 32 count. I have a great ACE DVD from Lawrence Biscontini but am looking for more resources, particularly those that can be used at home for the instructors who have a harder time grasping this and need to spend more time practicing it. If you know of anything instructors can listen to, watch, any how-tos, or group drills, please share! Thanks!
The first thing I teach new instructors is how to hear the downbeat, then how to hear the musical phrase. 32-beat music is easiest, but I also work with songs that aren’t 32-beat mixed, so I show people how to count in this manner, so they can listen to music and “read” it, and then start thinking about cues. It all happens together.
One thing that can help is to do this exercise (using made for group ex music with a heavy beat).
First start by counting it out loud like this:
1, 2, 3, 4, now-I’m-gonna-give-a-cue
This helps to get the feel of the beat. You can clap or tap a toe to help out with that. Once you have that down, pick a simple move from a format they teach that is one-sided. For example, a knee lift. Start doing that move to show how it goes with the music (for the knee: up, down, up down).
Next add the cue in, so the instructor is doing the move (knee lift) and getting ready to cue to go to the other side:
1, 2, 3, 4, now-it’s-time-to/go-left!
Once an instructor gets the counting down, there can still be a lag between “I understand the 8 count” and “I can cue on the 8 count.”
When I first started teaching I had a hard time getting the 32 counts down. I practiced over and over again with a seasoned instructor but the one thing that really helped was listening to CDs over and over again in my car. I would pop in a CD that was created specifically for group fitness classes and listen to it over and over again.
I do like the idea of video taping her as well to show her what its like when she is off. Hopefully between the 2 she will get it!
You’ve gotten great suggestions above, but I wanted to share with you some success I’ve had by showing it to them on paper. Some people seem to understand the “math” of it better than just hearing it.
(I draw music notes, but don’t have any on the keyboard. Just pretend the asterisk is a music note)
I write out –
* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
Then you can tap on each note as you go through the 32 count phrase, showing them how the top of each 8 count gets more emphasis and how there are musical clues that the phrase is ending. You can also draw an arrow around from count 32 all the way back to count 1 showing them how it loops around.
At one time, ACE offered a wonderful Practical Trainer Program for Group Fitness Instructors, which I had the pleasure of facilitating for several years. All of the suggestions I offer here, I credit to that program (although my description may vary slighty from the original). Also, as suggested by Grace (above), 32-count music designed for group fitness is the best resource available for all of the learning steps listed below:
– First and foremost, the instructor needs to practice hearing and identifying the beat of the music. Have the instructor clap or march to the beat. Once this becomes easy…
– Help the instructor identify the stronger downbeat. Again, use the body. Clap, stomp one foot, or raise the arms on each down beat. If the instructor struggles with this part, have the instructor join you as you demonstrate. When this becomes easy…
– Begin working with phrasing. Start with a full 32-count, noting how the music or lyrics tend to change at the beginning of a new phrase. Count it out. Once the instructor can identify the start of a new phrase…
– Begin to break it down into smaller phrases: 16-count, 8-count, 4-count. Again, count it out loud, and use the body to designate the start of a new phrase (clap, stomp, etc.). When this becomes easy…
– Teach how to cue. Start with the following words (said out loud) at the beginning of an 8-count phrase: 8,7,6,5,4,3,say the cue. Repeat for sevearl phrases. Then cut it down to: 4,3,say the cue. Then actually use a cue: 8,7,6,5,4,3,march wide. Whatever cue is used should only take two counts to say. Once this becomes easy…
– Apply! Have the instructor do a simple movement, listening for the beginning of the phrase, and cue at the appropriate time.
It takes patience and persistence when a new instructor is struggling, but it is worth it. The students really do appreciate an instructor who can do this well, and the class feels much better to everyone. Good luck!