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 Рthey contain all the music you might ever want to play in class.  Here is my ballet library playlist Рit 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!

Video: Fading Music Using GarageBand

The Dance Buzz debuts its first video!

If you’ve ever needed to fade a song to fit a time limit or your choreography, the OS X program GarageBand has some great features that make it really easy to do.

GarageBand was made for recording music or making podcasts, but we are going to use it to end a song early and fade it out.  This is one of the easiest and simplest edits to do.

For those who want technical nitty gritty: ¬†I’m using GarageBand ’11 (version 6.0.4) on my MacBook Pro, which is running OS X Lion.

Give me a shoutout in the comments if you found this video helpful or informative – I’d like to do a series of videos showing more complicated edits. ¬†Would you be interested in that?Video transcript and more tips (not included in the video) after the jump:

Continue reading

Review: Tempo Magic App

I was so excited to try out my new¬†Tempo Magic Pro¬†app last week at our dance intensive tap classes (see previous post here). ¬†I will admit that every time I see it on my iPhone screen I cannot resist the urge to say "tempo MAGIC" while wiggling my jazz hands with a magician-like flair. ¬†Try it with me now… tempo MAAAAGIC!


Moving on.

The app is pretty straight forward.  The first thing you have to do is add the songs you want to slow down.  Tap the playlist button.


Tempo-Changing App!

Just read Morris Partee’s post over at Dance Advantage on this awesome new app for changing the tempo of your music:  Tempo Magic Pro

This app allows you to adjust your song tempos on your iPhone or iPod touch.  As a tap teacher, I am so excited about using this app in class!  Our sound system currently has tempo-changing CD players, so I used to burn my music to a CD and then use the CD player to playback with different tempos.  I am hoping this app will change my life.. hah!  I am teaching this week at our summer camp intensive, so I will report back with results.

…off to go play with my iPhone now!

If you’re also an iPhone addict, you might also like to check out this post on two free iPhone apps that I use as a dance teacher.

Two New Favorite Free iPhone Apps!

Check out these two iPhone apps – the only thing you will need is an iPhone or iPod touch. Perhaps similar apps are out there for Blackberry and other phone users – there is always hope.

As a tap dance teacher, Metronome¬†by¬†has been invaluable for those times when I need a steady beat, but can’t find the right tempo music or don’t want to clap my hands raw. It mimics a real metronome (which brings back nostalgia of my old piano lessons) and can tick tock its way from 1 beats per minute (why you would ever need that slow is beyond me) to 210bpm. If you have a stereo system with an audio headphone jack, you’re in business! It is a little tricky to accurately slide the little metronome weight thing (does that have a name?), but otherwise I am happy. It has a different tone for the downbeat of the measure, which you can change to 2/4, 3/4 or 4/4 timing.

There are a few other apps that do the same thing, but since I am pretty happy with the current one, I haven’t tried any of the other options. Comments are welcome if you have!

My second new favorite app is BPM by CHEEBOW. This handy little tool helps you determine the beats per minute in any song you can tap your finger to. It registers the BPM just after 3 taps and if you keep tapping, it will average your speed so even if you have an unsteady finger, it will give you a fairly accurate reading. I have used this to organize my dance class playlists by tempo, so I no longer go crazy trying to find a faster or slower song in the middle of class. You can add the BPM to your songs in iTunes under the “Get Info” option.

Share your favorite ‘apps’ in the comments!

See previous technology posts

Studio Owner Buzz: Facebook Marketing Tips

Four Fantastic and Free marketing ideas using your Facebook fan page to hold a contest!

1) Picture Match
Make a status on your fan page say something like:

“One Week Only! Change your profile picture to match ours and be entered to win a $20 gift certificate to the studio. One entry per day, per family.”

Within minutes you will see your logo EVERYWHERE!

2) Instant Testimonials. Ask your fans to leave a comment about “why they joined” or “their favorite memory of last year was” to get entered in for a drawing.

Your fan page will be covered with fabulous testimonials!

3) Recruit Fans!
Another type of contest results in your page getting more fans. Your fans must try to refer new people and the new fans must post a comment and say who their friend was that linked them.

At the end of the time period, the person with the most referrals wins the prize.

4) Fan Photos.
Ask your fans to upload a photo of their child to your fan page and have all of their families and friends “like” the page & their child’s photo. The student with the most likes wins.

Prize Ideas: a free week of classes, or free month, free costume, free dance bag or simply a dollar amount gift certificate. Don’t have the money to give away – give “parent of the month” or “student of the month” or post the winning comment / picture somewhere prominent in the studio or year-end program.

——-Find Us on Facebook!————

Fascinating Talk on Spreading Ideas

If you have a few minutes, take the time and watch this great video on how the internet is helping innovation in all areas, including dance! If you don’t have 20 minutes, at least watch the first few minutes about how dancers are learning from YouTube and innovating faster than ever before!

If you enjoyed this video, check out TEDTalks – there are some fascinating ideas out there!