#FromTheSQJudgesChair – Choosing Music

October 1st, 2019 by Elizabeth Radabaugh

Choosing Music

Choosing MusicAs teachers and choreographers begin their routines for the year, choosing music can be a daunting task. The goal is to be original, but you also want to find a song that inspires your choreographic juices. Finding music that is fresh and exciting doesn’t have to be chore. Here are some tips to help you sort through your music libraries.


Chicken or the Egg

To start, decide if you would like to create your piece around the song choice or concept. Do you start with the chicken or the egg? Both choices can be successful, but will take you on different paths. If you are starting with a concept in mind, think about how the idea moves, flows and manifests into sound. MusicTry to expand your horizons and think outside-the-box and explore new artists and musicians. Be sure the music supports the inspiration/idea of the piece but, be careful it doesn’t take away from the movement on stage. Instrumental music can enrich the movement and encourage the audience to focus solely on the choreography. Music with lyrics can drive the story forward and give movement a sense of urgency. Either way, you can find success by choosing a piece of music that drives the concept forward.


On the Hunt

Teachers and choreographers all struggle with finding the right song. Where do you look? How can you find the right song? Start your music search from things around you. Think about your favorite TV shows or movies. While watching, notice the background music. Apps like Shazam, make it very easy to know the artist and name of a song with the touch of button. Think of things that are happening in pop culture right now. Shows, musicals and concerts are great ways to find inspiration for your next music choice. Don’t ignore the past either. A retro throwback song is always refreshing and judges love to hear a good variety of music.



Steer away from over used songs. While they can be catchy, they can also be repetitive and monotonous. Judges are scoring on a variety of variables, but you want to stand out in the best way possible. A unique song choice helps separate your students from the crowd. Even if you can’t get your mind off a popular song, perhaps you could change it in some way. Keep your ears open for a cover version.  You could also decide to digitally manipulate it in some way. The key is to be original, but if you just can’t turn away from a popular song, make it your own!


Hopefully a few of these suggestions have rattled your music road blocks. There is so much music out there, you can be successful in finding the right song for you. Keep an open mind and you’ll be on your way to creating a unique and exceptional piece!


Marissa Staniec is a performer, choreographer, teacher and adjudicator for StarQuest with over 20 years of experience in the dance industry. She also hosts, writes and produces her own podcast on iTunes called “Beyond the Mirror: A Dancer’s Podcast”.


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