Successful Cueing - Lisa J. Hamlin

Successful Cueing
Communication is the key to successful cueing.  Did you know half of your class participants respond to your visual cues while the other half responds to your verbal cues?  The visual learners are typically front row participants.  They rarely listen to what the instructor is saying.  Visual learners watch every move the instructor makes and rely on visual cues, therefore it is important that they are able to visibly see the instructor at all times.  The verbal learners prefer the middle or back of the room and they rely on the instructor’s verbal cues.  Often when class is full, they may not be able to visibly see the instructor, therefore they pay close attention to what the instructor is saying.  Because our classes consist of a combination of learners, it is important that we cue both visually and verbally to form unity within the class and to ensure the class flows smoothly.
The following cueing techniques will help you to enhance your communication skills in all classes:
Verbal Cueing Techniques
Verbal cues express thoughts.  Try to avoid repetitive statements, as class participants will eventually tune you out and not listen.  Offer educational cues, as well as safety and alignment cues.  Observe your class, as most of your cues are based on what you see occurring during class. Remember to be consistent with your cueing.  If you call a pattern a specific name, continue calling it the same name.  Cue on time, prior to the next pattern.  Avoid negative words, such as “don’t” or “no”.  Instead of telling class participants what not to do, tell them what they should do in a positive way.  
Negative Example:  “Don’t lock your knees”.  
Positive Example:  “Remember to bend your knees”.
Cue By Name:  Call the pattern by its proper name.  Remember to use universal patterns in addition to your own signature patterns.  Participants who attend group exercise classes regularly will recognize the universal patterns by name and will be able to follow easily.  Creating your own signature patterns provides the opportunity to be creative.  
Example (Universal Pattern):  Grapevine, Step Touch, March, Lunge
Example (Signature Pattern):  Revolving Door, Split Repeater, Around The World
Descriptive Cues:  Descriptive cues are typically used in classes designed for beginners or all-level classes.  Not all class participants are familiar with the terminology and may not recognize the name of a particular pattern, therefore descriptive cues will help them to follow easily.
Example of Double Step Touch:  Step Together, Step Touch  
Example of a Mambo:  March Forward, March Back (Same Lead)
Numerical Cueing:  Counting down is preferred.  As you get closer to count one, your class participants prepare for the upcoming change.  Remember to avoid cueing the last number (1), as you should be cueing the next pattern at this time.
Example:  “4, 3, 2, lunge”
Visual Cueing Techniques
Visual cueing reinforces verbal cueing.  Providing visual cues will not only assist the visual learners, however visual cueing will also teach the verbal learners to watch more often and rely on your verbal cues.  Visual cueing may be used to give the instructor’s vocal cords a rest or when a microphone is not available.  Remember to create a positive atmosphere by smiling, making eye contact with class participants and expressing energy and enthusiasm with facial expressions.
Body Language – Body language conveys movement.  Body language may be demonstrated without speaking or in addition to speaking.   
1. Place hands on your hips to alert class participants.
2. Clap your hands to get attention.
3. Circle your hand over your head to symbolize “taking it from the top”.  
4. As you verbally cues “shoulders over hips”, point to the shoulders and hips while speaking.  When you refer to a specific muscle, point to the muscle.
Directional Cueing:  This style of cueing is typically used when the pattern could lead with either leg or arm (right or left).
Example:  Verbally cue “Grapevine” and visually point to the right or left.
Orientation Change:  Instructors often change their position to the side or back of the room so that all participants may see her/him when there are many class participants.  Instructor orientation changes are also used with creative choreography.
Example:  Create a 32-count combination facing the front of the room.  Once participants master the combination, add directional changes using all four walls.
Verbal Preview:  Instructor verbally cues one or more patterns prior to demonstrating the pattern(s).  Verbal previews allow class participants to prepare for upcoming changes.  
Example:  “Continue marching forward and back.  The next time we march forward, we are going to alternate two lunges (right and left)”.
Visual Preview:   Class participants remain in a holding pattern while the instructor visually demonstrates an upcoming pattern.  Visual previews are typically used with patterns that are difficult to break down or involve direction change.
Example:  “Continuing with your grapevine while I show you the next pattern”.
Effective cueing will enhance your communication skills.  Using both verbal and visual cues will unite your class, help people to follow easily and will create a positive experience in each and every class.  

Lisa J. Hamlin
AFAA Director
International and Military Relations Department

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