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Teaching Basic Tap Sounds to Beginners


Teacher article



 Teaching basic tap sounds to your students will make tap dance easier to learn and your students will understand the names for each step and how to apply them. I like to get my beginners to understand that the ball of the foot is different from the toe which is different from the heel. This may seem basic enough but it is funny that the toe and ball get mixed up a lot of the time! Pointing this out to them is important so that they fully understand how the sounds are created. If they understand each of these sounds then they will find it a lot easier to create each step, the sound it should make and then link the steps together. I think that these sounds need to be reviewed during each class especially in the early learning stages. Once they master the basic sounds then teaching them how to do flaps, shuffles, cramp rolls and eventually time steps will be a snap!

Below is a list of the basic sounds and I recommend that you try to include them in your warm up for each class. I also like to do a Q & A with the students where they have to say the name of the sound and then show how it is done. By focusing on these sounds they can practice the ones that they are having an issue with like brushes, scuffs or staying up off the heels on the balls of the feet.

1. Step, done up on balls of feet- no heels

2. Stamp, done by striking the whole foot on the floor with weight

3. Stomp, striking the whole foot on the floor with no weight

 4. Heel Drop, up on balls of feet dropping the heel into the floor- alternately or together

5. Ball Drop, flat footed lift ball of foot and drop onto the floor- alternately or together

6. Ball Tap, Weight on one foot, the other leg is extended and with that foot the ball of foot taps on the floor. Ankle relaxed

7. Heel Tap, Tap heel of extended leg. Digging it into the floor

8. Toe Tap, Take extended leg in back of you, with knee bent and tap the toe into the floor.

9. Front Brush, Stand on one foot, the other leg is bent with foot lifted in back. Bring leg front and strike the ball of the foot. Ankle relaxed and the foot action is to tap the floor as you pass by

10. Back Brush, Like above only difference is the working leg is extended forward and the leg goes from the front to the back.

11. Scuff, Same stance as front brush but as they pass through they will strike the heel.

12. Heel Dig, Stand on one foot. The other leg is lifted in front. Drive heel into floor-leave it down

13. Ball Dig, Same stance as above- this time drive the ball of foot into floor-leave it down.

14. Jump, Stand on two feet and jump up off two feet and land back on both.

15. Hop, Stand on one foot the other leg lifted in back with knee bent. Hop up on one foot and land on the same one

16. Leap, Stand on one foot and leap onto the other one. This can be done side to side or front to back.

I know these are all basic sounds but I recommend they not be glazed over! Once the students learn this terminology they should pretty much retain it forever. In the coming months we will have in the "how to" section a fun warm up using these sounds.


Steve Sirico

Steve Sirico

Originally from Norwalk, Ct, Steve excelled in track and football. He attended the University of Tennessee at Martin on a sports scholarship. Deciding to switch and make his career in the world of dance, he studied initially with Mikki Williams and then in New York with Charles Kelley and Frank Hatchett. He appeared in a number of theatre productions such as Damn Yankees, Guys and Dolls and Mame in New York and around the country and in industrials and television shows. He was contracted to appear as the lead dancer in the Valerie Peters Special a television show filmed in Tampa, Florida. After meeting Angela DValda during the filming they formed the Adagio act of DValda & Sirico appearing in theatres, clubs and on television shows such as David Letterman, Star Search and the Jerry Lewis Telethon. In 1982 they were contracted to Europe and appeared in a variety of shows in Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Italy before going to London, England where they appeared as Guest Artists for Wayne Sleep (formerly of the Royal Ballet) in his show Dash at the Dominium Theatre. Steve and Angela have owned and directed their dance studio in Fairfield, CT for the past twenty two years and in 2005 added music and vocal classes to their curriculum. Author of his Jazz Dance syllabus and co-author of a Partner syllabus both of which are used for teacher training by Dance Educators of America, Steve continues to adjudicate and teach for major dance organizations. Recently taught at the Interdanz conference in San Jose, Costa Rica, He choreographs for theatres, television and conventions and DValda & Sirico are currently in production choreographing the opening to the National Speakers Association convention on Broadway at the Marriott Marquis for August of 2008. Steve is co-owner and director with his wife, Angela, of the website Dance Teacher Web designed as an online resource for teachers worldwide.

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