Tips to Help Choose Music

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1) Make sure your music is age appropriate for the dancers and the audience.

2) Listen for inappropriate language. Look for clean or radio versions.

3) Find the Lyrics, to make sure there are no unacceptable words, and to aid in choreography. Go to: A-Z Lyrics,, or Smart Lyrics

4) You can have a few music choices and have the dancer/dancers choose. This way they have a say and you are able to make sure all choices are suitable.

5) Have a professional editor create a unique mixed piece.

6) Change the tempo, speed or length of a song you like to make it work for a routine. Download a free editing program: Audacity: Free Audio Editor and Recorder or if you use Apple, GarageBand works great as well.

7) Make sure your cuts are smooth and not choppy.

8) Make several copies to bring to performances and competitions. Bring several CD copies and a thumb-drive of the mp3 file.

So you only know a few words of a song you want. How do find it?

1) Go to Google search
2) In the box for search, type in the lyrics you know.
3) Type “lyrics” after the lyrics you know, especially if they are all common words
4) Click the first link that comes to you. That should have your song.

OR go to one of these sites:
•   Lyrics Search Engine
•   Browsable AZ Music Lyrics Archive
•   Song Lyrics Search Engine

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How to Select a Song

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By Kate Smith

When every dance season ends, dancers take a well-deserved break from the classes, the competitions, the rehearsals, and the recitals. But while their dancers are having fun and relaxing, choreographers and teachers are still hard at work, because when the next season starts, the routines must be prepared for the dancers to learn and rehearse. An important part of the process of routine preparation is the selection of music.

“Song selection is essential for a great routine,” Stoughton Center for the Performing Arts teacher and choreographer Jessica Cseter states. “Hearing a song that makes me want to move the first time I hear it is a good sign I will use it.”

Those instincts are common amongst choreographers looking for the perfect song for their next routine. Professional Egyptian dancer, choreographer, and instructor Jasmin Jahal advises in an article on her website,, “Select a piece of music you really like and which makes you want to move every time you hear it.”

Of course, it is also important to keep in mind the style of dance being choreographed. What works for a lyrical routine might not work as well for a jazz number. “For jazz musicality is key, and I try to choose a song that has music changes,” Cseter states. “For tap, a song with different rhythms and a lot of energy usually works out really well.”

In terms of using popular music, it can be a positive or a negative, depending on the choreography accompanying it. Director and choreographer Michael Bourne states in an online BBC chat that “Generally, I work with famous music, so I need to be true to the music, so I don’t upset people too much. They have feelings and strong ideas associated with the music.” Some songs become popular once they are used in a competition routine. Cseter cites singers such as Imogen Heap and Roisin Murphy as current artists often heard during competitions. “Once a song gets used it usually becomes popular because other people have heard it and will use it and bring it to another competition.”

However, many choreographers are interested in using music that has rarely been used. Cseter often looks to soundtracks when she is looking for something unusual. “Soundtracks usually offer a wide variety of songs from lyrical to hip hop that often aren’t found on the radio.” Of course, once the song is used, it will start to catch on, and the choreographer’s search for music, old or new, fast or slow, continues.

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