It might not seem complicated, but many people do not really know how to ask questions. One of the key to success in many things is not having the answers, but asking the right questions. In this blog post I am going to focus on how you can use questioning to improve your dance.
The biggest problems students have when learning often come from a lack of shared cognition. The teacher says one thing and has a clear idea in their head of what this is meant to mean. The student might hear the exact same words, assuming they are paying attention, but might interpret those words differently from what was intended. This then results in a different understanding. From this point on, the teacher and the student progress with different mind sets and understandings of what is to be done. Questions – even if they are just to double check understanding – can reveal these differences early. Once they are revealed, these issues can be dealt with, and more time can be dedicated to effective learning.
What questions to ask?
The one type of question you can always ask is the clarifying question. If a teacher says ‘Watch your foot work.’, then ask ‘what about it?’ or perhaps ‘Is my heel not lowering?’ (if you think that’s the issue). These types of questions that dig deeper or put a theory forward encourage a conversation that gets you both (teacher and student) on the same page.
Another good question is the verification question. When you have done something after being given instruction by a teacher, focus on what you first notice. Maybe you notice that it causes a noticeable strain in your back. Ask if that’s how it should feel. This helps the teacher work out how you have interpreted their instruction and maybe prompts them to share extra useful information with you.
A third good question type is the pre-emptive question. This is like the verification question, but you ask it before you try to do as they have asked. You might ask how it should feel different from what you have done in the past. You might ask if you should notice anything. You could also ask at which beat a key step will occur (this is bit of a verification question).
A contextual question is a good one too. It always gets a conversation going. This is also a question that becomes more common as you advance in dance. When your teacher is correcting a move or telling you to change the way you do something, ask questions to work out if it is something that should now be done all the time, for this specific instance, for this particular dance or under certain conditions. I like this line of questioning because it reveals a lot about dance to you that you didn’t know and it allows the teacher to work out how you are interpreting their instructions.
Using questions to improve
The real key is to be curious about dance. I have given some guidelines on the types of questions to ask and I go over some specific ones in the free e-book that you can easily download. However, if you try to learn more about the dance than just what you are being told, then you will start asking questions and you will learn faster.