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My Advice to New or Interested Tango Teachers...

18 Jul 2011 3:02 AM | Homer G Ladas (Administrator)
Here's a slightly edited reply to a friend who is interested in becoming a career tango teacher...

1. Start teaching as soon as possible. Do it for free at first. Help other teachers out in their classes. Try not to ask for money for at least a few months or more if possible.

2. Don't let go of your day job or other academic pursuit until you absolutely can't do both tango and another career. It's important to have another source of income while you grow as a tango teacher. This will also allow you to take additional classes, travel, make connections.

3. [Organic] Networking is the most important thing. If you can meet folks that like you (in a natural way without having to sell or marketing yourself) and they like your dancing/teaching you will have lots of work. If you are too forceful or competitive with your community or other teachers it will be difficult to find sustainable work.

4. When your ready try teaching your own classes.  You can't become a good teacher with experience.  You will make lots of mistakes.  Just admit to your students your limitations.  Also, don't try to own students.  Always help them find the way to grow even if it means other classes with other teachers.  Encourage them to travel to other tango cities/events/etc.

4.5  Develop your dj'ing at the same time.  If possible also consider slowly learning a musical instrument and playing some tangos.  Singing works just as well.  These activities will pull you deeper into the music and help you express/teach musicality to your students...  Oh, don't forget line of dance and social etiquette (both contemporary and traditional ideas to have well balanced and informed students).

5.  In my experience you will get what ever you wish for. Just take it slowly and enjoy the experience. I sometimes tell new teachers to "Be Careful What They Wish For" because tango can be hard work. You are self-employed and can easily get too overwhelmed (like teach too many private lessons, travel too much, spend too many hours organizing your work on the internet, etc). You have to be able to find a balance in all of this.

6. That's why I suggest (again) holding on to a second career as long as possible until you fully develop your tango teaching and dancing skills. Of course, if you really have no choice and must start doing tango full-time then just try to center yourself and hold on to your good friends and some family members who keep you grounded!

Here are two links related to teaching/dj'ing (including PDF handouts and notes):

http://tangostudent.blogspot.com/search?q=teacher+training

http://tangostudent.blogspot.com/search?q=dj

Hugs, Homer ;)

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