Tap-Speak: Another Update and a Nagging Question


If my counting is consistent, yesterday was my third class since I’ve started.  Let me tell you, it’s really frustrating at times, and I finally understand why.  First, let it be known that though the class is labelled Beginner/Intermediate, it is not beginner in any sense of the word.  This class is an intermediate class.  The only other Tap class I’ve taken besides these was a one-time Tap class with a bunch of little kids.  That was during the same summer that I took ballet for the first time.  I don’t expect a beginner class, especially those catered towards adults, to be painfully easy.  Adults are older, have better developed muscles, and idealistically have a better sense of coordination than young children.  That’s not to say the material isn’t watered down, but the pace may be different, if you catch my drift.  The ballet class I took with Adrian on Wednesday mornings is what I would comfortably call a Beginner/Intermediate class.  Some days, Adrian would keep it easier for the newer people.  But, he also knew when to push the envelope and really try to challenge his students.

Your definition of a beginner class may differ depending on your personal experiences, but these are just some things I expect to see in a beginner’s class based on my experiences dancing with newbies at Arthur Murray, my more recent experiences as a ballet student, and just general things that strike me as common sense:

  • Depending on whom you’re teaching, the pace for a beginner’s class shouldn’t be too fast.  Child or not, the material the is either completely new or only slightly familiar.
  • Break down the figures.  I don’t care if it’s ballet, ballroom, or tap, you need to name your figures, and more importantly, break them down step by step.  I’m a natural mover, and it’s hard as heck to just try to visually follow someone’s feet, let alone truly grasp the step.
  • Be encouraging.  All beginners feel pretty insecure as they stumble through these unfamiliar exercises.  Some are more insecure than others.  *raises hand*  It doesn’t matter if it’s the whole class or individually, but encouragement is pretty crucial.

From what I’ve experienced thus far, my current Tap classes have been doing none of the above, or precious little.  The class is extremely fast-paced and I have trouble keeping up.  While the amalgamations are done in a I-go-you-go fashion, the teacher doesn’t really slow down to examine the steps.  It feels sort of sink-or-swim.  While the teacher does encourage us, I’d like to see more.  Though, in defense of the teacher, there are more intermediate students there than beginner.  Still, I could use some encouragement as I feel like I’m flailing about with drums on my feet.  Overall, I’m heavily considering changing the day of the week for my private lessons with Nick, so I could make Wednesday’s Beginner Tap class from six to seven.  (My private lessons with Nick are on Wednesday’s from 5:30 to 6:15 pm.)

Now, to this so-called “nagging question”.  Are tappers considered musicians, and tap shoes, an instrument?  I can dance and sing, but my sparse experience with musical instruments tell me that I am not naturally inclined towards playing them.  If tap shoes are to be called an instrument, that would explain why I sometimes go completely off rhythm during class, among other things.  It would also help me be easier on myself if I l think of it in a musical context, rather than a Terpsichorean one.  Tappers make percussive sounds with their feet because of their metal taps, but does it still count as an instrument.  Honestly, I don’t know.  I’ll have to think about this question later when I have more brain space.

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