Last week I taught my first ever private lesson. It was so surreal. There I was, in my kitchen with Forrest, drilling him on his Lindy footwork and talking about connection. The lesson went very smoothly. We fixed some pretty big problems with his footwork, and did some drills. I taught him how to do six-count Lindy turns and how to do a Sugarpush properly for the first time. He ate it up, and told me later how much he got out of the lesson. It was a good lesson, but still… I felt kinda like a fraud.
See, private lessons, that’s something that pros do. I mean, the really, really good people, the kind you have to go to Lindy Exchanges and workshops to learn from. The stars and superstars of swing dancing, the ones who can rock your Lindy world with one well-chosen, blindingly insightful comment: they’re the people who give private lessons. Me? I’m the girl who teaches Swing I in a small swing scene. I’m the one who struggles with partner Charleston, who doesn’t have the self-confidence to bust out solo Charleston unless I have a solo-Charleston circle around me, the one who’s always having to work on her frame and her balance and… and on everything. How could I really be qualified for this? I mean, teaching with a partner, sure, especially when my partner’s been dancing twice as long as I have, but private lessons? No way. I felt like any minute there would be a knock on the door, and there would be the Lindy Police, asking to see my license and registration.
Moreover, these aren’t just private lessons. I’m hoping that Forrest and Travis (who had his lesson a few days later) will become first my demonstration partner while I teach at the University, and eventually teachers in their own right. Right now Trey and I are teaching the University Swing Club together (we had over 100 kids the first week), but after we’ve taught them East Coast basics and a tiny bit of Lindy we’re going to split the group in two. I’ll teach the beginners, and Trey will teach slightly more advanced stuff to the kids who’ve been dancing a little longer. Trey already has an established demonstration partner, but I don’t, and there isn’t really anyone suitable in the local scene to ask. All of the better leads are either already paired off with a teaching partner or otherwise not available/not suitable. So I’m training my own teaching partner. And yeah, that feels so weird.
I told Anna about this. She’s the senior dancer in our swing scene and the driving force behind a lot of what we do. She’s the one who trains new instructors (including me). She laughed at the idea of the Lindy Police, but told me that it was going to feel like this for a while. As long as I’m willing to ask for help when I need it, and willing to pass my students on when I’ve taught them all I can, I should be fine. She offered me the materials she’s worked up to help train teachers, and reminded me that I can always ask her for helped. After that I felt better, not just from knowing that I had backup, but also simply because she didn’t bust out laughing hysterically at the idea of me giving private lessons.
Maybe this isn’t so far out of my league after all.