First Day Back or Here We Go........

Today was my first day back for normal fall lessons.  Luckily for me it was only two hours which makes for a nice easing-back-into-things start to the new season.  The kids were were attentive, eager, and in good spirits and who doesn't love to teach to that?  These classes are at a studio I'm relatively new to (just started there about 2 months ago) so the kids are still learning my terminology.

I find the terminology a tough thing.  I tell the kids to learn and remember as many names to steps as they can because that way when they take from someone else they'll hopefully be prepared for their terminology.  However regardless of how hard I try to teach new students who have had other teachers my terminology, they tend to still revert back to the very first names they learned for steps.

Anyone got a solution to that?

Rod at


  1. First off, I love you and your site. I have been a tap instructor for the past 12 years and I have to say that United Taps is the BEST tap website out there. I am bummed that nobody else has chimed in. I have the same situation especially in my younger students. I would really like to hear some advice on this too!

  2. Maybe it's simply a case of repetition and making the kids say the names enough times? I'm still working on it.


  3. As you probably already know, kids love ryhmes.
    So just make some up to the tap step you are teaching them.

    It - is - not - ?? its - a ?? etc.


    In - this - move - the - back - step - is - a - spank - dont - for - get.

    You can probably make better ones of course.

  4. Repetition is always helpful (at least with my kids) and I have been battling the same thing. I am a studio owner and the original tap teacher that had been at our studio ended up having to move so I took over her classes. I have been a tap teacher (amongst other styles) for a number of years, but my style is completely different than hers, as is a lot of my terminology and I knew that it was going to be a pretty big change for the kids.

    I found what helped when I took over her classes is actually making a list of steps that the kids will be working on for the semester (you can do it by months) with the description of the steps under it. Then, as we learn the steps, they can make a check mark next to the step when they master it. This way, they actually see the name of the step and how the step is executed.

    This seemed to be really helpful for my older dancers, but with the younger ones (8 and under)I had to slowly add my terms and steps, otherwise they would get confused and frustrated. For steps that I knew multiple names for, I told them the other names for the step and what I call it, then I make them repeat it to me.

    I also play games with them to help them recognize the sounds and the name. I write the names of steps (my terms) and fold them up, have them pick a paper and then everyone sits with their eyes closed and their back to the first dancer. He/She will then do the step on their paper and the rest of the class has to guess what that step was. This ended up being one of the best things I did with them...not only did it help them to remember the names by seeing it on the paper, but they have to listen to the steps and rhythm too.

    It has taken time for my kids to learn my terms and steps, and it was a pretty big challenge at first, but using the tap step lists, saying the names of the steps,repetition, and games seemed to really help. The kids went from a very classical and slower style of tap to my super fast, funky, into the floor style tap in a relatively short amount of time.

    I hope that helps a bit for you! Thank you so much for this awesome site! It is extremely helpful to have so many great videos and ideas all in one place!

  5. Meagan,

    Thank you for the suggestions I really appreciate it. I'm definitely going to try the steps list. The game you mention is almost exactly like one I play, but I like that you have them see the name on a piece of paper.


  6. Hi Rod!

    I am happy you liked that! I actually just finished a full night of tap tonight and passed out some new papers, which had the step descriptions on them (I have a separate list with each step broken down just in case I needed a sub so they knew what everything was and how I teach it) and that seemed to help a lot, however it does take up some time but the beauty of it is you have it for a while and can just add to it as needed. I didn't mean to give this to them (I pulled out the wrong set of papers), but now that a few of the classes have them, I plan on doing a quiz with them (I do that with my ballet classes too and it helps to remember the terms). So I can let you know how well that goes since I have never actually passed out the papers with the step descriptions on it before if you'd like.

    And I am glad I am not the only one who does that game! I have never heard of anyone else doing a game like that before and thought I was a weirdo for thinking of it, so its good to know others think the same way (not weird, but creative! )

    Thanks again for all you do on here!


  7. Well, I heard "tap*-step" and "pickup-step" thousands of times from various teachers over the years. Then I choreographed my own stuff, speaking to myself the same stuff. Today it comes out automatically and I'll never get it out. Well, today I'm only improvising, but while trying new combinations, I certainly talk to myself.

    BUT for communication I'll say "flap" in future. And I'll say "brush", not forward tap. Because I like it better. I think it's good to be able to understand the various tap-slangs. But not everybody must be able to speak any of those slangs - one is actually enough.

    I might analyze a few of Ruby Keeler's steps on my blog on WordPress one day. "Flap" is wonderfully short and makes it more simple. So you see, even I am ready, willing and able to learn a new slang. But not speak it ... no chance, too late.

    But I think it's okay that way: Speaking one tap-language, and being able to understand other languages.

    * In this context it meant flap

  8. Hi Im starting to teach little kids from 4 to 8 years, Im 14 years but I want to know what steps are they able to do because I want them to feel confident about what they are doing.And is it okay to talk them in tap-language?
    any ideas? thanks:)

  9. Yes teach them proper tap names like stamp and stomp. They can handle it!

    toes, heels, toe toe heel heel, steps, stamps, stamp stamp step step, digs, dig dig step step, step heel dig toe, toe-tip, toe tip step, touches, step touch, jumps, hops, flaps, and shuffle step. Good luck.



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