Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Matching - More Than Mirroring

"Treat people like you would like to be treated" is an old german folk-wisdom, suggesting that people should be nice to each other. When it comes to actual interaction, psychology suggests the proverb should be changed to "Treat people like they want to be treated". Treating people like they want to be treated is called matching. The possible applications for teaching are wide-spread.

Physical Matching

Matching happens naturally physically. This means that the changes of tention are matched. You can see this when people shake hands, but also inside of our body we are naturally programmed to match ourselves e.g. when we walk our arms swing relaxed, when we jog the arms match by gaining more tention and raising. This natural tendency of matching physically can be used as technique as used by more and more people. As with all natural abilities we have, we can cultivate them, to react more sensitively and act more clearly.

Mental Matching

Matching, as suggested in the introduction, can be used for mental activities - for example when we talk with someone or a whole group. Breaking it down to various matching possibilities, you can match people by using the same vocabulary as they use. That means most of the time simple english for american and english teachers abroad.
Another possibility is the kind of thinking you underly your talking with. Is it based on reasoning (why?) or the outcome (what?) or the execution (how?). Try to cover all of them to talk to all of your students at some point in a way it matches, so they can most easily understand you.

Matching applies to a wide range of actions, and can be utilized in many more ways than above described. So go and try implementing matching somewhere!

How would you use matching in your class? Share in the comments!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

DJ Challenges - C'est l'heure de l'apéro by DJ Flow

People keep coming up with new challenges and sending me those. I love it! This one is by Florence Batu aka as DJ Flow from Toulouse, France. Enjoy!

A Mug Of Ale - Joe Venuti's Blue Four
Knock Hom Down Whiskey - Earl Hines
Gimme a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer) - Nina Simone
And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine - Anita O'Day
Jazz Cocktail - Duke Ellington
Groove Juice Special - Slim Gaillard
Rhum And Coca Cola - The Andrews Sisters
Muddy Water (A Missipippi Moan) - Jimmie Lunceford
Gone With The Gin - Hot Lips Page
Ida! Sweet as Apple Cider - Benny Goodman
Scotch And Soda - Charlie Barnet
Salt Peanuts - Georgie Auld And His Orchestra
Chips' Blues - Woody Hermans Four Chips
Sweet Potato Fries - Gordon Webster

Want to listen how days sound? Download the music here.

You completed one of the challenges? Send it to me and I'll publish it! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Memory Games - The Primacy Effect

"People remember the first and the last things". This saying? refers the primacy and the recency effect. They describe memory effects that have been observed when people memorize lists of words. The effect was that people remembered the first and the last items on the list best. These effects are of interest because we can use them to have people remember stuff better and how to use this for various improvements.

First, the saying is slightly incorrect, because the explanation for the primacy effect is usually forgotten. The primacy effect refers to remembering the first items in the list, because when trying to memorize lists of words, people tend to start from the top over and over again. That means they have seen those items most often. When we try to reproduce the effect this has to be beared in mind.

We can reproduce the primacy on everything that is repeated. A few examples:
  • regular classes: If you have weekly classes, if you always start the same way, people will remember this better. This is not very interesting yet. The interesting part is that if you use the warm-up to change the atmosphere, people will remember not only the beginning, but also the feeling or change of feeling when they come to your class. Now the only thing it needs to make them feel happy and energized(or whatever atmosphere you create at the beginning of your class), is to think of your class.

Same goes for workshops classes, if they are associated with a certain couple.
  • movements: If you always start with putting the rhythm in your body and getting together before you start, people will when they think of a movement always remember the getting together part in the beginning. That is something I've seen people lack, and as you know - it's easier to dance together once you're sharing the same rhythm.

As for all effects I mention on my blog, I encourage you to use it and find more applications of it!

Got a good way of how to use the primacy effect in class? Share it in the comment section!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

DJ Challenges - A Week Of Swing by DJ Superheidi

Last week, I published DJ challenges, so DJs get to know their music better at the same time as to have some fun. The first reaction I got was from DJ Superheidi from Rotterdam, Netherlands. She sent me A Week Of Swing. Enjoy! :)

Monday At Minton's - Chu Berry Jazz Ensemble with Hot Lips Page
Tuesday At Ten Benny Goodman - Benny Goodman
Wednesday Night Hop - Andy Kirk
Thursday Evening Swing - The Cats & The Fiddle
Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go With Friday on Saturday Night? - Harry Roy & His Orchestra
Harlem On Saturday Night - Lil Hardin Armstrong
Sunday - Bud Freeman & His Summa Cum Laude Orchestra
Every Day Is A Holiday - Lary Clinton&Bea Wain

Want to listen how days sound? Check out the playlist on 8Track.

You completed one of the challenges? Send it to me and I'll publish it!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Play (With) Music

As DJ we are supposed to play music. Serve dancers with hot dance tunes. We are supposed to handle atmosphere and the dancefloor. Part of the trade and a good DJ though is also to research. I've always liked the playful approach to learning best so what better way to learn about music than to play with music.

I like to think of these challenges as games and I want to introduce some of these games to you, and maybe you'll have fun with them. In any case, they will contribute to you learning a lot about your music, which I think is one of they keys to good dj-ing.

Basicly, chosing the next song is always about connecting to the one before. Doing it by style or speed is fairly easy. But what about connecting songs by:
  • themes
  Play songs that all have the same theme like love, sex, drug, food, songs about dancing or war etc.
  Example: Big Apple Contest and Black Bottom (songs about dancing)
  • titles
  Play songs that have a theme in common in the title (ignore content of lyrics) 
  Example: Big Apple and I like Pie, I like Cake (food)
  • musicians that played together at some point:
  The following song has a musician that played with the musician before
  Example: Fletcher Henderson and Don Redman
Those are all fairly easy challenges. Some have even already been released as compilations. The ones that are more challenging and require you to research. Connect songs by
  • alphabet
  Do an alphabet with titles, artists, women names, etc.
  • same musician
  The following song has a musician that played in the song before.
  Example: Recording of Luis Russell's Hot Six - 29th & Dearborn - and Showboat Shuffle by King Oliver's Jazz Band (Barney Bigard)
  • record label
  Only play records that were recorded on a specific label, like Decca, Vocalion, Brunswick, etc.
  Example: What Goes Up Must Come Down by Count Basie and Roy Eldridge's Wabash Stomp
  • rare instruments or themes:
  Play songs that all use a rare instrument or idea, e.g. harmonica
  • location:
  Play only songs by bands that played in the Savoy Ballroom, Roseland Ballroom, etc.
  Example: Luis Russel and Jimmie Lunceford  (Savoy Ballroom)
  • date of recording
  Only play songs that were recorded in one specific year, or chronologically
  Example: Ella Fitzgerald - Whacky Dust and Tommy Dorsey and His Clambake 7 - You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby (1938)
  • by country (except USA - too easy)
  Only play bands from a specific country, e.g. only France, Germany, Netherlands
  Example: Kristian Hauger, Rowland Greenberg, etc. (Norway)
  • by city
  Only play songs by bands that resided in one city.
  Example: The State Street Ramblers - Kentucky Blues and Louis Armstrong - Weather Bird(Were both recorded in Chicago)

If you do these challenges and come up with new ones, you will gain a lot of knowledge about your music and the musicians that made it.

Challenge: Make a small set of 5 to 10 songs that are connected in some way described in the second section or come up with an own challenge. Then write down the link between each song, and send it to me. I'll publish it on this blog. Also include your DJ name and where you are located. Looking very forward to your send-ins! :)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"This Is Not Lindy Hop!" And Other Nonsense

Recently I've read a debate about what is and what isn't Balboa and what it should be etc. It reminded me of a discussion that I've often heard in Lindy Hop - about what is and what isn't Lindy Hop. As with all articles in the nonsense series I want to offer a new approach to it.

The Discussion

To quickly outline the discussion for people that haven't been involved in it I'll mark the extremes. One group of people wants to evolve the dance and they keep experimenting with its parts. The other group wants to preserve lindy hop as it was danced back in the days by keeping new influences out. According to them there are things that are lindy and things that are not.

Preserving Lindy Hop

If we back up one step, we get to the question - What is Lindy Hop? While Lindy Hop is hard to describe there is one part I think is regularly overseen. Back in the day inventing and adding new things to the dance was part of the dance. Swivels and aerials for example weren't always part of the dance. They got added throughout the years. Two things we consider completely part of it it nowadays. Imagine someone walking up to Frankie after he pulled the first aerial and told him: "This is not lindy hop, I don't want to see you do this again in a competition or call it Lindy hop". This is ridiculous!

If we want to preserve Lindy Hop - I certainly do - this part has to be beared in mind as well. Let us preserve lindy hop by evolving it!


Does this turn anything into Lindy Hop? No, it doesn't. It opens the possibility for new things to be looked at, tried out and once evaluated either be refused or integrated into the dance. It removes the fear of "not doing lindy hop", when we try out our ideas.

I believe that dances are self-correcting. Some new things will be included whilst others won't. Lindy Hop changed already quite a lot back in the days, at some point it had changed so much it got a new label and in Europe we call it Boogie Woogie. It happened again afterwards, and it became known as Rock'n Roll. I don't think we need to artificially keep things out and attack people for inventing things. Let us sometimes back off a step before telling people they aren't lindy hopping, and just see if it could match in some way, maybe it will be the new swivel or aerial of lindy hop.

Read more in the nonsense series.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Aspects of DJ-ing

Sometimes when I tell people, that don't dance any kind of swing dance, that I DJ, they assume that I mix my own music, that I scratch etc. In the Swing scene the reaction tends to be more: "It's just music put into a playlist". To me DJ-ing for dancers is neither one nor the other. Being a DJ denotes two parts: serving music to dance to and also educating dancers about music.

Serving Hot Tunes

The maybe biggest challenge for beginner and intermediate DJs is that we don't play for ourselves but for a room full of dancers. This does not mean that I play music I dislike but almost analogue to teaching - I only teach stuff I like. When DJ-ing this means something slightly different. I don't play all the music I like. I play the music that is the intersecting set of music from the tastes of the room and mine. 

Serving the room also means taking care of the ambiance. Do you want to have an easy-going or a high energy atmosphere? Do you want the floor to be crowded or not? Connecting the music in a way to shift the ambiance to where you want it can be done through tempo-managing and styles and various other ways.

And All That Jazz

The second aspect is to educate the dancers. We DJs spend countles hours on researching music, musicians, history and connections that make us the "experts". DJs should know what bands played at the Savoy and what the difference between Traditional New Orleans Jazz and Swing is.
For some people it's the music that made them start to dance Lindy Hop or Balboa or whatever Swing dance. For others the music is secondary and the interest is for example in the infectious joy. Music made the dance what it is. As the experts it is our job to play this music so people can have a chance to experience what it must have been like to dance back in the days. It is our job to play this music so people can find the spirit and joy of all those swing time era dances.

We DJs can call ourselves lucky. Swing music is considered normal in most scenes. As with any good teacher, we have to continue learning ourselves to be able to continue to teach and educate. This means continuing to research, understanding better, finding new old tunes etc.

It is for those two reasons I call myself Doctor Jazz. It's a song by Joe "King" Oliver and if you don't understand the connection, listen to the lyrics. :)