Have you heard of the 3-to-1 rule? It states that for every hour you spend in a lesson, you should spend three hours practicing what you learned.
I’ll just wait while you finish laughing.
Seriously though, practicing is a big part of learning to dance, even if fitting it into your life might seem as likely as climbing Mt. Everest. In flip-flops. I’m certainly not going to recommend you drop your work and family obligations for the sake of dance, but I do think virtually everyone can find at least a few minutes. Here’s how:
1. Take a few minutes before/after a lesson
You’re already at the studio, so why not make use of the dance floor? Many studios are fine with this, as long as you don’t disrupt other lessons (ask permission to be sure though). Plus, it’s a perfect time to warm-up your muscles, or memorize what you’ve just learned.
2. Take notes or record the summary
Notes help us remember what we’ve learned times two, because both your eyes and your writing hand are helping out. If you decide to go the video route, filming yourself (or your instructor, if they let you) helps you get more out of the little practice time you can fit in.
3. Set aside some time in advance
What time of day do you tend to have the most energy? If it’s the first thing in the morning for example, consider getting up 5 minutes early to run through your steps before breakfast. Planning your practice time in advance makes it easier to work around.
4. Practice while brushing your teeth.
This is great because it allows you to work on your steps, AND do something else you would be doing anyway. You can also throw in some quick practice during commercial breaks, waiting on the phone, or washing the dishes (if it’s a stationary exercise, like Latin hip action).
5. Take an online course
If a lot of your free time is getting used up in commute to your dance studio, you might want to try learning at home. Did you know there are websites that, for a fee, offer online dance courses, or even live coaches to watch and critique you?
Of course, you could just watch Youtube videos for free, but beware: many people on Youtube aren’t experts, and you could pick up a lot of bad habits if you aren’t VERY careful.
6. Prioritize your goals
We often end up spending a huge amount of time on things that aren’t as important to us as our dancing, simply out of habit. Make a list of the various tasks you do, and see if you can’t reduce or weed out some of the non-essential ones.
7. Be honest with yourself
Finally, sometimes our biggest obstructions to practice are in our own heads. If you can’t seem to find time to practice, perhaps your priorities have legitimately shifted to other things, and it’s time to move on. If this is truly what you want however, you may have to make some sacrifices – or how long are you going to wait before chasing your dreams?