Friday, June 29, 2007

How I Watch an Instructional DVD

I just received some new dance DVDs and I don't know how other people watch dance DVDs, but I thought my methods might be helpful to others. (I read books in a similar fashion.)

My Program overview:

  • Watch the DVD from beginning to end
  • Pick out a section or two I like, and work on it
  • Go back and do everything from beginning to end
  • Review the complete DVD after a few months or more

Before trying any of the moves, I watch the DVD from beginning to end. I want to get a feel for how it all fits together before I start practicing the moves and exercises. In a few cases I'll watch the whole thing a couple of times from beginning to end before trying any of the moves. I rarely get to just sit and watch for an hour, so this review is often done over a few sessions, and that could be within one day or over a week.

After my initial end-to-end review, I often pick out something I think would be fun to learn and do it first. Because I'm learning something I like, it seems easier and that tends to give me additional enthusiasm toward the other materials. While I'm working on specifics, I'll still watch the DVD while I'm having lunch or taking a break from other activities, just to feed the visuals into my head.

After I do a couple things I like, I go back and start from the beginning, working the exercises, including the ones that I find hard. Everybody is different in this respect, but something that is brain-dead simple for you may give me fits for a few months. Going through the exercises may take a week or a few months, depending on how often I'm practicing and the difficulty of the materials.

I avoid skipping too many sections, even if I think the material has little application in my dancing. In most cases, I want to learn the pattern even if I think it doesn't apply because the more you learn, the easier it is to learn new materials. (This is a judgement call; I do skip some materials, but I don't just skip it because it's harder than I'd like.)

One rule I live by: If I am not getting it, I'm doing it too fast. I will slow something down way more than most people would, because I've had excellent success with that method. (Musicians do this all the time.) You can master almost anything if you're willing to do it slow enough. See my article on "Slow Down to Groove Fast" for more details.

After working everything from end-to-end, I wait a few months and then look at the DVD again. Like listening to great music over and over, I'm amazed at how much I can learn with a tune-up review. I see things that were not obvious when I was working on the materials the first time through. (I still go back and watch some "beginning" DVDs to verify I'm still sound in my fundamentals.)

I'm always looking for additional methods to accelerate my learning.

Let me know how you approach new DVDs.

My mother said, "You won't amount to anything because you procrastinate."
I said, "Just wait."
-Judy Tenuta

1 comment:

  1. Is there much work on the muscle memory of dancers? It seems like an interval training (like using Anki, or Mental Case for remembering facts etc) system for dancing works well. I'd imagine knowing how to gauge level of intake before overload for dancers in a class, as well as when taking a class is useful, along with how to work around that.
    Any chance of some information / post on what DVDs you would recommend from your collection?


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Don Baarns - Unlikely Salsero