For Instructors

All This Talk About Endurance, Part 4, Music

Apologies for the gap. Busted my ankle a few days ago. You'd think I'd have all the time in the world to blog, but pain meds were keeping me foggy. Let's recap. We had lots of talk on the first post 'The scope of the problem,' so I know that Endurance is to instructor challenge as Interval is to participant challenge. We also looked at some of the science behind why we should maybe stick to our guns in offering lower level (though I would beg to differ that if you can maintain 80%mhr for an hour that it is lower level) constant classes. And, more recently, we considered some of the ways to elicit work from people that is less "instructor centered" and more participant centered. If you'd like to read those posts, they can be found here; Part 1: community.spinning.com/.../all-this-talk-about-endurance-1-the-scope-of-the-problem.aspx Part 2: community.spinning.com/.../all-this-talk-about-endurance-part-2-the-science-etc.aspx Part 3: community.spinning.com/.../all-this-talk-about-endurance-part-3-coaching.aspx Music: Just like word choice for coaching, style is everything and if you force a template onto someone that just doesn't fit, you're setting up for disaster. I've heard it time and time again, even here in the past year and a half of blogging. I encourage you to go back through and read any posts about music - we've all written about it and it is really important to honor the truths each of us holds in our music choice, because you can't argue with success. I know people who would rather play no music in their class than force new age music into their country rock fan classes. I get that. I don't own that, but I get it. So, much in the same way that Spinning® wouldn't offer you a script, they don't don't require a music playlist to conform. Some Indoor cycling programs do and some instructors like the template, but in my opinion I feel freer to be able to choose my own playlist than apply one to my class. With this freedom, however, comes the potential for feeling overwhelmed and uncomfortable because if the choice is wholly yours, the blame is too if your playlist falls short of your class' expectation. I so much encourage you to share your thoughts on music, because first of all, I am in the new-agey / world camp, so fling open your window and shout from the bottom of your lungs your favorite type of music when it comes to Endurance classes. Here is my criteria for choosing Endurance class songs (EEZ playlists) Cadence and BPM. Never feel stuck to the rhythm of the music - but if you are coaching within the parameters of EEZ, it is harder to elicit a cadence of 80 to 110 rpm when the music is 65 bpm. Do you know how to count the bpm? Do not take aerobic industry music for their printed bpm. They are so often wrong! jump to the middle of the song, look at a clock that shows digital seconds (I use my time in the upper right hand corner of my Mac) With your right hand start taping the rhythm you hear - it is most likely the down beat (not always, but most likely). with your left hand, tap the other beat, between the down beats of your right hand. . . Think: "One two, One two" - the way you might think "right left, right left" when pedaling.... When the clock clicks over to 0, you start with the number zero in your head and count until the clock says 6. A six second count leaves you with a number between 5 and 10 usually - tack on a zero for 50 to 100 beats per minute (tacking on that zero extends your 6 second count to a 60 second count, hence the "per minute") If your last tap is a right hand you'll have a number ending in 0. If your left hand is the last to tap, you'll have a number ending in 5. If I get my hands tapping and go "Right, left, Right left, R l, R l, R l, R l, R, ending on R (right) and saying the number 7, the music is 70 beats per minute. If I had ended on a left hand tap it would have been 75 bpm....still too slow, for me, in an endurance class. I want my music to be in the 80 to 110 range for quicker cadence. Don't discount slow music all together - if you hit 5 and end with a left hand tap, the bpm of that music is 55, which is 110 bpm - the top end of the pedaling parameter! I expect comment that bpm and rpm have nothing to do with each other . . . bring it on. I know people either can't find rhythm or can't align their pedaling to the rhythm. that's cool. I am very musically driven and couldn't make myself pedal off the beat of the music if I tried. So moving on from cadence and bpm, let's look at mood. Regardless of the bpm of the music, can you imagine doing sprints to Peter Framtom's "I am so into you?" No? me either. hooray for you if you can. The mood of the music is as key as the rhythm. Not all 80 bpm music feels the same. Compare Queen's "We will rock you" and The Who's "Who are you?" - to me, they are not only similar in bpm, but they are also similar in mood...the era and genre is roughly the same and they both seem a little, well, angry...and yes! I use them both in EEZ. But compare them to the jazz song "Birdland" or "Soul Bosa Nova" - all four songs 80 bpm, but two different moods. The first two are a little heavier and would maybe encourage a little more gear on the bike of the participant, and the others are light and up lifting, offering, perhaps, a lesser effort - simply because of the mood. There isn't one answer to be had here, but the savvy instructor can use this knowledge to his or her advantage depending on what sort of environment is sought for the class - the tone of the class, as it were. Here's an activity for some boring day off you might have. Go through the counting exercise and find 10 different songs all with the same bpm and group them into "heavy" and "light" just for the sake of grasping "mood" - If you REALLY want to go for it - pick 10 songs with the same bpm and assign them each a color - red being firey and strong, yellow being timid and quiet, blue being peaceful and serene...or whatever color scheme you want to do, just to drive home the point. The tool of familiar vs. unfamiliar is something to stay aware of as well. My husband will say long, epic, classic rock and roll songs take him away to a different time in his life and he feels lost in the lyrics that his High School band belted out way back when. He is never happier than when he hears rock classics in a spinning class. Sigh. me? Give me Afro Celt sound system any day. The music takes me to the unknown... pulls me along in strong crechendo and simple respirations of musical texture. Two strong opinions - and I'm sure there is more. One Master Instructor at a convention once said "I do techno. get over it." Good enough for me....it was his tool. Ultimately, don't discount anything, if you think it could be of use. I open one play list with the theme from Charlie Brown ("Linus and Lucy" I think is the name of the song). This wouldn't be a comprehensive post about music if I didn't interject a word about continuity. What is your excuse for not blending your music? Are you one of those instructors still using cd's - and 3 of them during class? oi. evolve. Even if you don't have a Mac, there are programs for your p.c. - go find mix meister. When you blend your music - and even overlap them for a moment, the segway from one song to the next, makes the entire playlist feel like one song, bringing continuity and cohesion to your entire class. I'll list my favorite songs, if you ask...but more importantly, what are your thoughts on music? Is it simply a back drop and "heck yah, I can make you sprint to Framton?" or is it a tool that you spend painstaking hours crafting? Could you look at all your playlists and know exactly which energy zone they belong in, or are they totally mood-devoid and interchangeable? thoughts?
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