Using iTunes to Make Class Playlists

I am off doing recital things… so here is a post I think you’ll enjoy from the past!  

Originally posted August 2010, updated May 2012

As a dance teacher in the twenty-first century, you can carry thousands of songs in your pocket.

However, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Here is how I organize my music library to avoid scrolling through hundreds of songs to find the perfect tempo.  A little organization will save you time and frustration during class.

If you use iTunes, the software allows you make playlists. Use this feature.

Here’s how I do it (and you can too!):

1. Create a DANCE MUSIC LIBRARY – Make a playlist for each type of dance you teach. These will be your music libraries.  We’ll call these your Dance Library Lists. To make a playlist, click File -> New Playlist. In my case, I have a Ballet, Children’s music, Jazz, Lyrical, Modern, Salsa, Showtunes and Tap playlist.

Then drag and drop music that fits these categories from your Music Library into the playlists. Each of these playlists will have hundreds of songs.  Think of them like the old CD racks on the walls of your studio – they contain all the music you might ever want to play in class.  Here is my ballet library playlist – it has 200+ songs and full CDs of ballet music.

2. Create CLASS PLAYLISTS – Now make a playlist for each class you teach. If I am teaching a combination class of tap/jazz, I will often make two playlists. I label mine by the day and time “Tues. 5 – Jazz” or “Tues. 5 – Tap” or “Adult Tap Class”.

Side Note:  If you noticed my playlists are numbered, you might be as detail-oriented as I am.  iTunes organizes alphabetically, so Thursday will come before Tuesday if you just label it by day. I add the number in front of it because I am anal and need my classes to be in order!

These playlists are much smaller and I often re-arrange them each month or so to bring in new music. To get new music, I just have to go back to my Dance Library Lists and pull a few songs from there. Here is my Thursday/Friday ballet class playlist. It has 23 tracks. Enough to get through the class and then whatever piece of choreography we are working on that day is at the bottom:

Hint: For my tap classes, I organize my playlist by the tempo. This way, I can find the correct speed in class quickly.  You can add this column by right clicking where the column headings are and selecting “Beats Per Minute”.  You will have to manually add any missing BPMs however, which can take some time.

3. Use the FOLDER feature. To make a new playlist folder, go to: File -> New Playlist Folder

Label it something useful (Example: “Classes” folder and “Dance Library” folder) and drag and drop your playlists into that folder.Hopefully this organization system will help you to use your iPod during class and you will be able to quickly navigate thousands of songs.


Syncing Your iPod / iPhone

You may have much more music on your laptop than your phone or iPod can hold, which is where you class playlists will come in handiest.  When you plug in your phone, there is a place to select which playlists to synchronize.  If you have little room, sync only your class playlists.

I might be running out of room on my iPhone…

Side Note:  Your iPod or iPhone will automatically keep your music organized in your folders as well. Bonus!

Choreography Playlists

Choreography: All the songs I am currently choreographing. This makes it easy to find when I am in my car or    and want to listen to my songs.

Potential Choreography: Whenever I hear a song that gives me an idea for a piece, I drop it into this playlist. Even if I can’t use it right away, it’s there, stored away where I can find it.

Hope this has helped you get organized for class!

NMM: Holiday Music Round-Up

 If you enjoy this post, take a moment to VOTE FOR US for Top Dance Blog of 2011 by commenting on the post (click this link). Thank you!

My students performing "Winter Song" (2010)

I started writing a post about holiday music, but I realized:

1. I did that last year and I still use the songs on the list.

2.  Other dance bloggers also have some great suggestions.

3. It's not Monday, so I guess this isn't a "New Music Monday".

So instead, I'm pointing you in the direction of some already awesome posts about holiday music! Ok, so one of them is my own post, so technically I just called myself awesome.. but let's let it slide, ok? 'Tis the season!

And because I can't resist, here are a few more "winter" and holiday tracks to keep your playlists updated!

Read more »

Playlist Update for Fall 2011

Now that the studio is open and I’m getting back into the swing of things, I updated some of my playlists for class and wanted to share my favorite new songs with you!  Most of these are from the Top 40 and some are old favorites, but hopefully they might inspire you or give you something new for the season!


Not offered on iTunes:
Pumped Up Kicks (RLYNX Remix) – Foster The People
Party On The Floor – DJ Earworm Remix – check out his other remixes too!

New Music Mondays: Children’s Jazz Playlist

A fun mix of pop hits, oldies and funk that will keep your elementary students moving and grooving in jazz class!

Pop Warm-Up & Cool-Down Songs
These songs have a moderate tempo to get things warmed up without hyping up the class.  Great for exercises like “point / flex”, isolations and stretches.  Sometimes I like to use them to calm a class down if they are very hyper.

Kiss The Girl – Colbie Caillat Kiss the Girl - Disneymania 6
Beauty and the Beast – Jump5 Beauty and the Beast - Walt Disney Records Archive Collection, Vol. 2
How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You – Marvin Gaye How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You) - 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: Motown 1960s, Vol. 1
Do You Believe In Magic – Aly & AJ Do You Believe In Magic - Do You Believe In Magic - Single
You’ll Be In My Heart – Drew Seeley You'll Be In My Heart - Disneymania 6

Happy Tracks
Great beat, these songs would be good for class or for recital!  They have a loud easy beat to hear and pick up on without being too fast.  I danced to Dinosaur Rock N Roll when I was in 2nd grade and we had a “real” dinosaur (one of the older students) moonwalk across the floor like she says in the lyrics!  It was my favorite dance!

Reach – S Club 7 S Club 7
Fun, Fun, Fun – Sugar Beats Fun, Fun, Fun - Sugar Beats: Car Tunes - Fresh Versions of Retro Pop for Parents and Kids That Are Going Places
Love Train – Sugar Beats Love Train - Sugar Beats: Car Tunes - Fresh Versions of Retro Pop for Parents and Kids That Are Going Places
Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong – Spin Doctors Little Miss Can't Be Wrong - Pocket Full of Kryptonite
Dinosaur Rock and Roll – Joanie Bartels Joanie Bartels

Sugar-High Songs
Great for jumping jacks, jump across the floor or to inject some energy if your class starts to nod off! 

Bouncin Off The Ceiling – A*Teens Bouncing Off the Ceiling (Upside Down) - Teen Spirit
Da Roof Is On Fire (Follow the Leader) – Soca Boys The Soca Boys
Happy Boys & Happy Girls – Aqua Happy Boys and Girls - Aquarium
Tra La La – The Banana Splits Tra la La - Tra La La - Single

See previous playlists

Full Disclosure:  I am affiliated through iTunes, so for each purchase you make directly from my site, I receive a small (very small) percentage of the sale.  Thank you!

If you enjoyed this post, take a moment to VOTE FOR US for Top Dance Blog of 2010 by commenting on the post (click this link). Thank you!

New Music Mondays: Contemporary Playlist, Part 2

The term “contemporary dance” has evolved over the past few years to encompass a variety of dance genres. On TV shows like “So You Think You Can Dance”, it overlaps into lyrical, modern, ballet and jazz. Here is a playlist attempting the span the reaches of contemporary dance. Leaning more ballet/lyrical… check out the Slow and Delicate songs. Or pick up the pace for some jazzier selections. Miss your lyrical face? Bring on the angst!

Click here for Contemporary Playlist, Part 1

Soft and Delicate
Lighthouse – Hope
Breakable – Ingrid Michaelson (Bonus: 3/4 Time!) Breakable - Girls and Boys
Glitter In The Air – Pink Glitter In the Air - Funhouse (Deluxe Version)

Picking Up The Pace
Move You – Anya Marina Move You [SSSPII] - Slow & Steady Seduction: Phase II
Help I’m Alive – Metric Help I'm Alive - Fantasies
Rebellion (Lies) – The Arcade Fire Rebellion (Lies) - Funeral

A Bit Angsty
Pitter-Pat – Erin McCarley Pitter-Pat - Love, Save the Empty (Bonus Track Version)
Nicest Thing – Kate Nash Nicest Thing - Made of Bricks (Bonus Track Version)
Broken – Seether ft. Amy Lee Broken (feat. Amy Lee) - The Punisher (Original Soundtrack)

Off The Wall & Slightly Exotic
Hi – Psapp Hi - The Only Thing I Ever Wanted
Drumming Song – Florence & The Machine Drumming Song - Lungs
Amazon – M.I.A. Amazon - Arular

Click here for the full playlist in iTunes
If you enjoyed this post, take a moment to VOTE FOR US for Top Dance Blog of 2010 by commenting on the post (click this link). Thank you!

New Music Mondays: Contemporary Playlist

Contemporary dance has evolved over the years to encompass a variety of dance genres. It seems to overlap into lyrical, modern, ballet and jazz. Here is a playlist attempting the span the reaches of contemporary. Leaning more ballet/lyrical? Checkout the Slow and Delicate songs. Feeling jazz? Pick up the pace then. Miss your lyrical face? Bring on the angst!

Slow and Delicate
She is Love – Parachute She Is Love - Losing Sleep (Bonus Track Version)
Fondu au Noir – Couer du Pirate (Bonus! Its in 3/4 time) Fondu au noir - Cœur de pirate
Hang With Me (Acoustic) – Robyn Hang With Me (Acoustic) - Body Talk, Pt. 1

Picking Up The Pace
Cosmic Love – Florence & The Machines Cosmic Love - Lungs
Bring Night – Sia Bring Night - We Are Born
Heartbeat – Enrique Inglesias ft. Nicole Sherzinger Heartbeat (feat. Nicole Scherzinger) - Euphoria (Deluxe Edition)

A Bit Angsty
Decode (Piano Interpretation) – Paramore Decode (Tribute to Twilight) - Piano Versions of Popular Film Music
Where I Stood – Missy Higgins Where I Stood - On a Clear Night
Stand Still Look Pretty – The Wreckers Stand Still, Look Pretty - Stand Still, Look Pretty

Off The Wall
Veins – Charlotte Martin Veins - Veins
Heads Will Roll – Yeah Yeah Yeahs Heads Will Roll - It's Blitz! (Deluxe Edition)
Paradise Circus – Massive Attack Paradise Circus - Heligoland

See previous playlists

New Music Mondays: Mash-Ups & Remixes

Trying to stay ahead of the trend in music for your classes? If you’re a music-download junkie like I am, you are always looking for new music to use in class or to choreograph to.  This article will give you some new resources.  Last week we focused on Pop music – by checking out and Radio Disney.

This week, we change genres to mash-ups and remixes.

So what exactly is a mash-up?  Well, its a mix of two songs (often from different artists or genres) “mashed” together to create a new song.  If you watch the series “Glee” on FOX, you may remember the episode from Season 1 where the club was challenged to come up with a mash-up.  Here is the girl’s result which combine’s “Halo” and “Walkin on Sunshine”:

You can find this song and the other Glee mashups on iTunes. Glee: The Music, Vol. 1 - Glee Cast
Halo / Walking On Sunshine (Glee Cast Version) Halo / Walking On Sunshine (Glee Cast Version) - Glee: The Music, The Complete Season One

Where else can you find the hottest mash-ups and remixes?  Go straight to the source: DJs.  These guys and gals mix for the hottest clubs and will usually record their own spin on songs. These are a few of our favorites – and they often have their mixes available for download right on their websites.

  • DJ Earworm – creating pop remixes and mash-ups.  Check out this remix of 2010 summer pop songs:
  • Norwegian Recycling – This DJ has many remixes with over 5 songs sampled.  I love using this song for warm-ups:
Norwegian Recycling – Viva La Viral on Vimeo.

  • Party Ben – he has a thing for combining the most unusual sounds and making them work.  Love this remix of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” and the Four Tops “Can’t Help Myself”.

Disclaimer: Of course you will still have to do the usual bad-words check before playing any song in class–which may also require translation for the world songs, which leads to my next resource:

  • YouTube – It’s probably not your first thought for new music, but you can find remixes, mash-ups and radio versions of popular songs that are often available to download from the user who created them. Type in a song and you will find remixed versions, mash-ups and edited radio versions.

Next week’s New Music Monday will have another new music resource for remixes and mash-ups!

Looking for past New Music Mondays?