Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Anatomy of a Playlist

I spend a LOT of time prepping my playlists. I create a new one for each class I teach to keep it fresh for my regular students. I know there's much debate about whether instructors should have a prepared playlist or switch around from song to song during a class, but I'm squarely in the prepare ahead of time camp.  Team Type A all the way!

There are a lot of things that I consider when putting a play list together, and I thought I would share them with you.
  • B1 advice: Ok, first things first. We've all been told to make sure we offer at least 70% Latin and international rhythms in our classes, and it's important. It really is what sets us apart from other dance fitness formats. So, when I'm putting together a playlist I always try to have a salsa, cumbia, merengue, and reggaeton to start and build from there. I usually end up with 9 or 10 Latin/international songs and 3 or 4 other types of songs.

  • On the other hand...: I do try to include 2 or 3 songs in English. Some of these songs are in the "Latin pop" category, but others might be hip hop or pop (a la Michael Jackson, 80s hits, etc.). I like to spread the English language songs out so people who like to sing along (en Ingles) can do so a few times during class.

  • New choreo? First 4 songs: I don't know about you all, but both my body and my brain get tired as class goes on. When I'm introducing new choreo, I almost always put it at the beginning of class when I'm still fresh and focused.

  • When the going gets tough...: Some songs are harder to execute than others, so I try to spread out the very demanding songs. This helps students to avoid getting frustrated, but also helps me offer intermittent training, where the really fast songs are separated by routines with a slower pace.

  • Warm up and cooldown: I always use a recognizable, upbeat warm up song (duh, right?). But, I also try to pick my cooldown songs from well known, feel-good hits that leave people with a good feeling. I avoid songs that I like but that are too obscure or overly sad. Lately I've been rotating between Killing Me Softly (Fugees), That's the Way Love Goes (Janet), Royals (Lorde), and D'yer Mak'er (Led Zepplin).

What other tips do you have?

P.S. Congrats to Alice O. for winning The Z Beat's Fall Giveaway!! :)

1 comment:

  1. Very good tips. Thanks!
    The ZIN Dj app has also been helpful to me for BPM's for each song that I use in my playlist so that I don't under/overwork my participants..... But sometimes it does not or is not able to provide an accurate measure of some songs. I'm not sure why? Even for songs directly from ZIN or MM cds I find it does not work.