Picking music for the upcoming season was one of my most favorite things about skating. Searching for new music usually meant fresh choreography, brand new costumes, and moving up a level. I loved being able to choose music that allowed me to express my eccentric vibes.
The music you choose will most likely be the music that you will skate to your entire season so it's super important that you LOVE the piece or it will make practicing your program a drag!
Even though picking music was fun for me, I know that plenty of skater struggle to find pieces that suit them. Not to mention how difficult it is to find a song that no one else at the rink or in your level also skates to. Luckily for your generation of skaters, there are numerous platforms that make choosing music easier than ever before such as Youtube, Spotify, and Pandora. With that being said, here are my top tips for selecting the perfect music pieces this season.
1. What is your personality? My first tip to picking your music is understanding your personality. Are you a happy upbeat skater or are you a soft calm collective athlete? These are the types of questions you should be asking yourself and then from there you can see if you want to play up your strengths or work on your weaknesses for the upcoming season through your choice in music. For me, I was known to be a skater who loved to smile at the judges any chance I got, and I performed my heart out at every show and competition, thus making happy upbeat music an easy choice for me.
However, there came a period in my skating career where I wanted to grow and strengthen my more dramatic, artistic side, so I started choosing classical pieces that allowed me to showcase my softer and more graceful side to my skating. By first assessing your personality you can decide if you want to continue strengthening your current style of skating or if you want to jump outside of your comfort zone to grow as an artist and athlete. I personally recommend that you experiment with both. In many cases, you have the opportunity to have more than one program: Long Program, Short Program, Light Entertainment, Dramatic, ect.; thus, you can have the opportunity to stick with a piece that normally suits you for your Long and maybe try a brand new genre for your short. The beauty of skating is that you, along with your coach and parents, have the ability to be creative and map out the direction you want to go for your next season!
2. Where to search? When I was growing up skating, I did not have the luxury of all these music apps that we all have easy access to in the palm of our hand. So what did I do instead? My dad and I would go to our local library to search for CDs that sparked our interest. Most of the time we selected CDs that were movie soundtracks such as Jaws and the Matrix. My dad and I would check out at least 10-15 CDs each visit to the library until we found the right piece. We would play the CDs in the car on the way to the rink and take notes on the pieces we thought would be fun. Luckily, you don't have to go through all that trouble. The first place I would look today is Youtube. I encourage my students and their parents to start with Youtube and search for movie soundtracks, rising artist (violinist), dancing with the stars episodes, or simply typing in a specific genre they are interested in (tango, latin, jazz). Other places I would suggest would be Spotify or Pandora where you can listen to playlists and can hear multiple songs that might capture your attention.
3. Collaborating with Your Coach/Choreographer: When I skated, my coach Lynn Smith let me choose my own skating pieces which is awesome because it gave me creative control over that aspect of my skating. As a current coach myself I let my students have that same creative freedom because I ultimately want them to enjoy the music they are skating to. Ultimately, I collaborate with my students to choose the best pieces.
So what does the process of choosing music for us look like? I encourage my students and their parents to send me at least 5 youtube links to their music choices that peak their interest and I either choose my favorite ones or search for a new piece that are similar to the pieces that that they selected. Talk it over with your coach to figure out the best way to choose your new music this season. Remember at the end of the day you should love your music because you are the one that will be skating to it everyday!
4. Songs to Avoid: The only times I choose a different piece than the ones that my students selected is when the songs are overplayed, have a repetitive beat, and is not dynamic enough. I would avoid songs that are constantly overplayed in the skating industry (Titanic, Romeo and Juliet, Phantom of the Opera, ect.). Not only can it get tiresome to hear the same pieces over and over again, someone else at your rink or at your level might also be skating to it since it's so popular. Remember, your generation is so lucky because you have an infinite selection of music in the palm of your hands. If the movie you saw last weekend had killer music in it, go search the soundtrack right now! Moral of the story: Be original and try to find music that not only empowers you, but will also help you grow as a skater. And remember don't be afraid to jump outside of your comfort zone!
5. Trying It Out On the Ice: Once you have selected a handful of your favorite pieces, now it's time to try them out on the ice. When you are the first on out on the ice, you get the luxury to take over the stereo system so take advantage of that and play your new choices. Warm up to the songs and even dance and do interpretive to the pieces. See and feel which songs make you feel inspired and alive. I know I have found the perfect piece when the song moves me and makes me feel like I can do anything! I feel every beat running through my body and it pushes me to be stronger and faster which ultimately leads to great performances and doing well in competition. Once you have that similar feeling you know that you found your perfect piece and you can now jump start your new season with a bang!
Thanks so much for reading! I hope that these tips helped. Please let me know if this was useful to you. Comment below what tips/advice you may have for selecting your perfect music. I would love to hear from you!
Coach Michelle Hong