This is that time of the year when quite a few skaters are changing their programmes and moving on to something more challenging and a new piece of music to go with it. In one of the Facebook groups I belong to, another mum was asking for advice on music choices for her skater and this week the subject of programme music came up several times in a number of forums and groups I belong to. And over the years I’ve got particularly adept at finding music that very few other people (if any!) are using or have used, which suits my daughter’s skating style and which she loves.
Nowadays I spend lots of time sitting around at competitions and some days it’s a real joy to listen to the uplifting and inspirational pieces skaters have chosen to skate to, while other days… well – let’s say I have started to groan inwardly every time I hear certain tunes…
The music a skater chooses for their programme can also help or hinder their confidence and motivation. And if the music is chosen for them and ‘thrust upon them’ without their buy-in to the process of choosing it’s unlikely to stand the test of time. The skater will get fed up with it very quickly and become demotivated around the whole programme. Once this happens, their confidence in themselves to pull off a great performance will also go downhill.
Musical tastes vary a hundredfold. Not only skaters – but judges too – will have their favourites and their pet hates. In all the times I sit for whole days at competitions there are a good handful of programmes that use the same music, and I feel sorry for the skaters who have to impress the tired and cold judges with yet another Pink Panther, Carmen, Matrix, Titanic or James Bond.
Last year’s soundtracks are pet hates among some judges – with Frozen being a number one peeve just now. Wait! What? Can you imagine anyone not liking Frozen? Well it seems so!
Don’t get me wrong – these are great pieces of music, but when the judges have heard it used over and over again they need to be impressed with something more. The choreography needs to be outstanding. Cutting edge, unusual and simply brilliant to make a programme with overused music worth the trouble of watching. In the big competitions like the Europeans and the World Championships, a skater can get away with a piece of ‘common’ music if they give a brilliant choreographic performance.
This video is an example which one technical specialist gave me of a ‘terrible’ piece of music – at least one she never imagined choosing as a skating programme – but an absolutely brilliant piece of choreography. As a result, what would otherwise have seemed a very poor choice of music was turned into a fantastic programme by the amazing choreography.
The music also needs to be chosen carefully to suit the individual skater – a tiny skater with a very slight frame will be hard pushed to do justice to “big” music with heavy notes and a vigorous melody. Likewise, a powerful skater may do little justice to a delicate lyrical piece.
A slow skater, maybe at a lower level will find it hard to keep up with something very fast, and this could also demotivate them as they feel constantly under pressure to try and keep up with the music. As they practice over and over in vain, their confidence will wane.
At the Coaches’ Convention a few years ago, Robin Cousins gave his own views on the choice of programme music. Again, he advised steering clear of overused melodies, but he did suggest that an unusual cover of a better known piece would likely be well received.
What are your favourite pieces of music to skate to? And what are your pet hates?