One of my favorite ways to have students interact with music is to have them participate in folk dancing. At first glance you might think...wait, why are they dancing in music? But folk dance offers many musical benefits to students! Some of the musical skills learned are counting, keeping the steady beat, and hearing phrases/ sections in music. Training the ears to begin to predict what will happen next is an important part of learning about music. When students add the physical movements, it really helps cement the sections in their brains. Students also learn to move in different ways to convey the mood and spirit of the music, which helps develop their ability to perform music in an artistic way.
Besides music skills, students also practice important social skills while folk dancing. We learn the correct way to ask someone to be a partner. We learn how to work well with everyone in the class, not just our favorite friends. We talk about treating everyone in a respectful way and how we can do that through folk dancing. We also learn how we need to work together as a team. If one student is not responsible for their steps, the whole dance can fall apart! Most of all, it is really FUN! We have learned many folk dances but some of our favorites are Sashay the Donut, Sasha, and our latest, Sweets of May, even if it’s still April!!