Teaching Tips

If you’re a veteran member, chances are you will get the opportunity to help younger teammates master routines. Here are some steps for success.

Set Goals

When teaching new routines, set goals and stick to a schedule. Break your goals down into 15-minute increments to help keep things moving and make sure you finish in the allotted time. Communicate these goals to the group.

Demonstrate

Use good technique and really perform it. Sell it to them, so they will want to learn what you have to teach.

Chunk It

Break the routine down into easy-to-remember “chunks” (often four counts at a time with no more than eight counts at once). Chunks can be longer for easier routines and as short as adding one more “move” to what has already been taught for difficult sections.

Lead, Then Look

Begin each new phrase facing forward, so performers can compare their spin to yours and watch you to learn. Use your peripheral vision (or position yourself in front of a reflective surface) to ensure the group is following. By NOT watching right away, you allow more timid students a bit of time before they feel judged.

When it comes time to “look,” check for problems with hand placement, missing counts or confusion. Avoid correcting individuals, choosing instead to address the entire group.

Repeat, repeat, repeat until all members feel comfortable. If you move on before the group is ready, you will end up with frustrated members who will find it difficult to continue learning.

Divide and Conquer

Periodically divide into smaller groups led by other experienced members. Small groups allow performers to ask questions with less fear and leaders to check for more specific details such as hand placement or body angles.

Most importantly, be sensitive to new members and try to remember how it felt your first season. Praise, praise, praise. They will gain confidence with every rehearsal, and you’ll feel great knowing you were able to help in that process!

About the Author

Catina Anderson has been involved in the color guard activity, first as a performer and then instructor, for the past 20 years. She is a consultant at Broad Run High School in Ashburn, Va. She is also the founder/editor of www.colorguardeducators.com, a website for color guard coaches. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Towson University and a master’s degree in education from Marymount University.