Why practice Highland Dancing?
Highland dancing is a very precise dance form. Without practice, a dancer cannot achieve the ideal speed and technique necessary to execute harder steps.
How long should my child practice?
Even small amounts of daily practice can help dancers to remember steps and start improving technique. Consider this: children attend school for six hours, five days a week and forget things. Most of our dancers attend one dance class a week, so they are bound to have trouble remembering their steps between classes.
It’s important for dancers to try to practice at least three times a week.
Below is a chart to help dancers plan their practice time.
Primary/Beginner- 15 mins per session
Beginner/ Advanced Beg/Novice - 30 mins per session
Novice/Intermediate -45 mins per session
Premier - 60 mins per session
The times listed above are suggested times for practicing for maintaining dance steps and technique. If a dancer wishes to progress their dancing to the next level, extra practice time may be needed.
Remember to stretch out well after every practice. To increase flexibility, dancers should spend at least 10 minutes a day stretching.
Most importantly, it’s how you practice that makes the biggest difference in a dancer’s improvement. Remember Quality over Quantity and only Perfect Practice makes Perfect Dancing.
There are many benefits to regularly practicing your dancing. Here are three good & basic reasons:
Dancers that practice on a regular basis (outside of class time) gain the confidence in their abilities to achieve great things. Practice leads to confidence in the steps and the dances initially and then leads to confidence in the quality of the steps and the dances. When a dancer is confident in their performances, you will see that confidence spill over into other areas of dancers life such as schoolwork and other sports.
Dancers that practice on a regular basis have the endurance to do dance after dance after dance, in class! When a dancer has endurance to do dance after dance they are gaining the “repetition of movement” required to become the best they can be. Endurance and repetition is key to achieving a high standard in anything.
Dancers that practice on a regular basis consistently produce quality dancing. These dancers will do well on Dance Exams with minimal extra work and will achieve top marks. These dancers will be able to transition from one competitive category to another with ease. These dancers will be able to learn new dances and choreographies quickly and accurately.
Supporting your dancer
Some children have a natural drive to practice their dancing on their own and strive to be better dancers. These dancers need only support and encouragement to continue with their good practice habits.
Some dancers want to be competitive and to improve their dancing but have trouble understanding how to fit practice time into their day. These children often need help from their parents to set out a weekly practice plan and stick to it. Quite often, after a month or two of help and support, these children can learn to practice diligently on their own to achieve their goals.
It is important to discover what your child’s practice style is and compare that with what their goals are for their dancing. Overall, as a parent, your most important role is to accept the character type of your child and do your best to be supportive of them and the decisions they make regarding competition.
What if my child doesn’t place?
Overall, please keep in mind that practice does not guarantee that a child will place at every competition. Your child may dance really well, but another dancer may dance better. For example, achieving a 95 on a math test is excellent yet another student may receive a 98.
So remember that when a dancer doesn’t place, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not a good dancer. It is important that your child understands this and that they understand that they are still loved and valuable even when they don’t win.
Tips for Parents
The following tips for parents are taken from the Child Protection Guidelines of Tennis but they can be applied to any activity.
- Offer encouragement, especially when your children face hard times. Do not use punishment and withdrawal of love, affection and warmth to get your children to try harder or perform better.
- Ask questions such as, “How was the competition(or fling or sword)? How did you dance? Did you enjoy it?” which shows you care about your child rather than the result. Avoid asking, “Did you win?” after your child comes back from a competition.
- Make your child feel valuable and reinforce his/her self-esteem, especially when he/she does not place. Avoid criticizing your child’s results or those of their competitors. Emphasize that, “Win or lose, I love you just the same.” Do not get upset or treat your child differently when she/he doesn’t place.
- Recognize and be generous in applauding the performance and effort of your child’s opponents. Do not ignore or criticize your child’s opponents.