Music for Class: Bring in the Noise

Posted on May 9, 2009 by

Germaine Salsberg lives to tap. In addition to being on faculty at Broadway Dance Center for over 20 years and teaching at STEPS on Broadway, she’s worked with Tony Award–winner Danny Daniels on the Broadway and national tours of Tap Dance Kid and has privately coached actors, including Liza Minnelli on the film Steppin’ Out. With a reputation for instilling a strong technical foundation through rhythm elements, it’s no wonder she recently released a CD of music for tap class. Along with pianist Kevin Cole, the two created Tap Tunes: For Tap Class and Practice. “I feel it is my obligation to acquaint students with different styles of tap. Therefore, I utilize different types of music,” says Salsberg. “Music choices need to be interesting enough to dance to, but not overwhelming.”

Artist: Gene Krupa
Song/Album: “Hodge Podge,” V Disk
“This is an oldie but goodie. It’s really a big-band sound, but it’s not so over-arranged that it takes over. It’s not real fast, but it has the Gene Krupa drive. Good for style, time steps and combinations that could incorporate a musical theater or big-band style.”

Artist: Jo Jones
Song/Album:“Jive at Five,” The Everest Years
“I did some work with Sarah Petronio in Paris, who is so swinging. She introduced me to the music of Jo Jones, a jazz drummer from the ’60s and ’70s, and boy does he swing, too! I love other songs on this album as well, so check out the entire album. The music is good for combinations—it really forces the students to listen and syncopate.”

Artist: Kenny Burrell
Song/Album: “Midnight Blue,” Midnight Blue (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition Remastered)
“This is a medium swing that keeps a very even tempo, and it goes on long enough to do long exercises (shuffles, double shuffles and triplets) at a relaxed pace.”

Artist: Jeff Golub
Song/Album: “Cold Duck Time,” Do It Again
“I fell in love with this song and found out it’s actually a jazz standard, but Golub arranged it in a jazz/funk mode. Warning—there is a variation in phrasing where he throws in a 12 measure once in a while, as opposed to the standard 8 measure. Not a fast-paced song, but there’s lots of room for double time and paddle and roll work.”

Artist: Oscar Peterson & Milt Jackson
Song/Album: “Work Song,” Very Tall
“I started using this song many years ago—and I used it and used it and used it! It’s great for warm-ups utilizing articulations and single-sound warm-ups for beginners, and I even choreographed a competition piece to it. It’s strong and driving, easy to hear, with a
certain amount of musical variation (not tempo) that keeps it interesting.”

Artist: Jane Monheit
Song/Album: “Taking A Chance On Love,” Taking A Chance On Love
“I often shy away from using vocals, because it comes across as too many elements with the tap sounds, music and the voice all at the same time. But Monheit is such a great jazz singer, and this song gives such a lift to the students. It really swings, has a great instrumental break and is quite peppy without being overly fast.”

Artist: Natalie Cole
Song/Album: “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” Unforgettable: With Love
“Cole’s voice really adds to the instrumentation. I use this all the time for my basic and beginner combinations. It is slow enough for them but does not drag and isn’t boring. It has a great musical break, and the students really listen—sometimes they even sing along.”

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