The summer is the perfect time to begin thinking about new skating programs for the fall. Joe Jorgens (see right) is the head of Sonic Edge Music, which provides pre-cut and custom programs for figure skaters. As a professional music editor, he wanted to share ten tips for selecting great music, especially for younger skaters. Over the next several weeks, we'll dispense Joe's advice on what to consider when putting a program together. Joe would also like to thank Jim Watkinson and his Weststar Company for their collaboration and assistance in the research, writing and production of this article.
Selecting Great Program Music for Younger Skaters by Joe Jorgens
We have all seen great skating programs. Their names stand out and remain in our minds even years later: Torvill and Dean’s Bolero at the 1984 Olympics, Katarina Witt’s Carmen at the 1988 Olympics, Michelle Kwan’s long program to Lyra Angelica and short program to Rachmaninoff at the 1998 U.S. Nationals and of course many more.
We watched and shared the feeling of their skating. Each movement perfectly matched the pace and emotion of the music, our spirits soared with the skater as their strokes carried us along. These programs were made great by a combination of the skater’s program elements and execution, the music selected and the skater’s interpretation. That combination turned mere athletics into a deep communication that connected with the audience, joining the skater and viewer in a shared triumphant experience.
These memorable performances stand at the highest levels in the sport of figure skating. But recreational and competitive figure skating is populated by a large number of skaters, very few of whom will ever perform in the rarefied air of national, world, or Olympic competition. There are in fact thousands of younger skaters from the Basic 6 recreational level up to the Juvenile competitive levels and generally speaking, depending on their starting age, skaters at these levels are often 6-12 years old. So we’ll focus our attention here on some factors that we have found important for selecting music that can help younger skaters shine at these levels.
If you are a coach, or experienced parent, you already know that as you begin to consider a new program your student will almost always have a favorite piece of music in mind, usually something very contemporary that they enjoy listening to. But skating to music is very different than just listening to it. We must consider some unique requirements to make a selection that helps your skater give their best performance. Having worked with many skaters at all levels over the last ten years we can offer some tips to help you choose music that will fit and complement your skater and their program.
TIP #1: CHOOSE MUSIC THAT IS APPROPRIATE FOR THE SKATER'S AGE
Unlike senior skaters who have an almost unlimited field of music to choose from, a younger skater has some practical limits on what is viewed as acceptable program music for them. This may sound like a simple and obvious point, but it can present a challenge for coaches and parents. Children always seem to want to be older than they are and often associate closely with music that is above their maturity. But judges, like parents, usually take a negative view of youngsters skating to music that is romantic, or is mature beyond their years. Many programs from jazz or swing sources fall into this category. Similarly, pop music is typically a poor choice as most people already know the words and are singing along internally; this detracts from the attention that the skater deserves. Another draw back to pop music is the instrumentation; this usually does not sound good in a rink environment. We will cover the way rink acoustics affect music later in more detail.
This does not mean that a boy or girl under age 12 must always skate to Disney music. There are many good alternatives between music from movies and Broadway shows, as well as updated versions of older works. But let us save some examples on this for later.
Coming up next...Joe discusses how to accentuate the positive.