For Instructors

music part 3: themes and threads

Music is the spice of life.  Okay, well, that is not exactly how the saying goes, but when it comes to a Spinning® class, music is the spice, for sure.  And like spices careful attention to mixing (for playlist cohesion) and blending (where songs flow seamlessly from one to the next) is a sure fire way to season your classes.



There are a numbe of ways that I come up with a playlist for a class.  One way is thematic - for example, I have several Halloween and Christmas playlists that I have compiled over the years. Other ways of theming a class would be to use only music from the 80's or 90's, or to use only clasic rock and roll.  But this approach is very music centered.

I would like to suggest that while many people would say that  Spinning® is music centered, it should not necessarily be the case.  I have built class profiles around a list of songs I wanted to use, but I believe the profile is the more important thing.  The objective of the class, whether it is strength, high intensity intervals, release or perserverance is the more important aspect of class design.

So, say, for example, I want to come up with a strength class.  Right off the bat, I know I am going to be using lower rpm, lower cadence, from higher resistance, so I'll turn to my iTunes and discover music which I have already labled for bpm (beats per minute).  55 through 75bpm music will be most of where I draw my music from, although it would be reasonable to pitch in a 100bpm song for a break from all the hard work.  


So, now I've decided on a strength class and I'm considering all of my music from 55 - 75bpm and I start to search for the feeling of the music.  By this I mean, does the music sound aggressive and strong, or sweet and sultry?  The best way to show you what I mean is to compare two songs that you might have in your own library.

Tainted Love by Soft Cell.  I have several versions, but one is roughly 70bpm.

Everybody Loves a Carnival by Fatboy Slim is roughly 70bpm


If you have them, listen to them now - (I can drop them into my sky drive too if you want) - but same bpm, but totally different mood.  Soft Cell is determined and steady, Everybody Loves a Carnival is energetic and firey.


So whether you're looking for something almost mesmorizing or something that makes you burst with energy, you choose your music.


Compare the following songs, if you happen to have them in your iTunes library:

100bpm  Cecelia by the Beatles and Put a Ring on it by Beyonce.

90bpm  Ramblin Man by the Allman Brothers and Lose Yourself by Eminem

80bpm  Whip it by Devo and the Theme from Lost In Space (if you don't have this music...get it - the more recent movie)


Anyway - you can see that just going by rhythm alone is not enough - songs convey an emotion and emotions elicit a physical response.  Knowing this and working with your whole library of songs, you can start to group songs that will flow into eachother and leave a certain "taste in the mouth..." where you clients may not be able to recall the songs, but they'll be able to say, "that playlist was so tribal I was mesmorized the whole time..." or that class felt "heavy and thick," or "light and lively..."


As for blending your spices...

I use a Mac and garage band.  I used to use MixMaster, but can't remember the ins and outs of that program.  If you don't know how to fade out the previous song and fade in the next song on garage band, contact me and I'll tell you - but I know you can go to youtube for tutorials.

Not everyone blends their music, but I feel strongly about having a seamless playlist so much so that I choose the order of music often because how it might sound when bleeding from one song into the next.


If you are interested and have not contacted me yet - I am happy to share with you a playlist I have uploaded onto my skydrive.


Ultimately, your playlist is the canvas on which you paint your class.  While most Spinning® instructors are not paid for the extra time it takes to compose a playlist, but the pay off in a well-orchestrated class is tremendous.


Next week?  The all mighty template for coaching notes.

Let me know if you have questions or want access to the music.




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