Once you’ve gotten the basics down in group lessons, you’re ready for some private lessons! You might notice that sometimes in class you end up on the wrong foot, on the wrong beat, or that things work out relatively smoothly in class but they never seem to work out as well when you’re practicing in the club or in your living room. All those classes, and social dancing, are going to leave you with LOTS of questions. Take private lessons to get your questions answered! The truth is, even if you pay exceedingly close attention in your group lessons, there’s no way you can get all your questions answered in class. A private lesson is the best way to get your particular issues resolved.
Don’t jump into private lessons too soon, though. Some of you may feel a little shy in group classes at first, but stick with it until you get to a level of basic proficiency. Then you can get together with an instructor one-on-one in his or her studio and ask all the stupid questions you’ve been stacking up! Here’s where you can put away any fears of being embarrassed, show your private instructor what you don’t know, what you’ve never understood, what you keep getting wrong.
A private lesson is the perfect place to correct your bad habits, before they become too engrained in your muscles. Which is why you shouldn’t wait too long to start the private lessons, either. The ideal time to begin private lessons is two or three weeks into your group lessons, and the ideal amount is once a week.
So, how do you find a private instructor? First, ask your group instructors. Most of them will also teach privates, and if they don’t they’ll be able to refer you to somebody. You can also search the Internet, Craigslist.com is, of course, a good place to start (after you’ve tried SalsaCrazy for your area). The instructor you end up working best with might be male or female, irrespective of your gender. I’ve known both women and men who prefer a female instructor, and I’ve known both women and men who prefer a male instructor. There are some specific requirements that you might have, though. If you are a woman and are specifically looking for sexy, feminine styling, you’ll probably want a female instructor. If you’re a leader and you’re looking for a lot of new, and increasingly advanced patterns, you might be better off with a male instructor. There are exceptions to this rule, but male instructors usually have a bigger arsenal of moves. But what you want in an instructor probably has more to do with his or her skills than his or her gender. You want someone who teaches at your pace, is patient, and dances in a style that appeals to you. Most of all, you want somebody you trust. You need to be able to look like a fool in front of this person, and you need to feel safe to ask really dumb questions! If you don’t, he or she can’t teach you much!
When your private lesson begins, remember, YOU are the boss. The instructor is there to help you, and only you know exactly what you want and need to get out of your hour together. He or she is the expert, yes, but don’t feel intimidated by that. You are the person who hired the teacher to make your dancing better. You should, of course, listen to all that your private instructor advises, but if she’s taking you down a different road than you want to, speak up! Your teacher might assume that as a leader you want to learn a bunch of patterns, when you really want to perfect the leads you have, or vice-versa. Maybe your teacher wants to show you fun, sexy embellishments as a follower, but you really want to learn how to follow very complicated patterns with multiple spins. Don’t forget that it’s your lesson, and you get to direct it!
Keep Dancing, and Keep it Crazy!
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