In an ideal world, every ballet teacher would have an accompanist on a baby grand piano provide the music for daily class. There's nothing like dancing to live music, even if it's provided by an old, bitter Russian lady who takes swigs from a flask between combinations. (Stereotypical, but sometimes true.) Most of us are not so lucky and rely on CDs players or iPods to provide accompaniment for our classes.
I make a conscious effort to update my ballet music library every few months or so because, when you teach 10 - 15 ballet classes a week, music gets old fast. I do often find myself falling back on a few old faithful standbys. I like tracks that can be used for different kinds of combinations, with a strong down beat and a nice melody. Since I know many of my ballet teacher colleagues are doing the same right now, I thought I'd share some of my favorite class music and accompaniment resources.
1. Between the Barres by Michael Roberts
This was one of the first albums I purchased upon opening my studio and is still my go-to album for intermediate and advanced barre. I like that Roberts provides as many as three or four different tracks for each exercise with different beautiful melodies and lengths as well as tempos. Cons: Most of the tracks tend toward the slow side (at least for my classes which are allegro heavy) so I often will choreograph quick combinations at double tempo for my advanced class. Because it's designed primarily to accompany barre work, there aren't a lot of good tracks for center work (especially jumps and turns) included.
2. Princess at the Ballet by Lisa Harris
I love many of Lisa Harris's CDs, but Princess at the Ballet is my favorite so far. It contains a lot of familiar melodies--show tunes, pop songs and TV themes--set to nice, even tempos with an energetic quality and tone that's fun to dance to. With 39 tracks, I can use the CD for several classes back to back and barely have to repeat any music (though I tend to play the same 10 - 15 songs over and over again). Cons: I find some of the tracks are very short, especially for an intermediate/advanced class.
3. Ballet Class iPhone app.
If you don't have a smart phone, it's almost worth getting one just for this app. It's one of the only apps I've actually dropped money for, and it's definitely worth every cent. (There is a free version as well with just 10 tracks or so). Ballet Class includes musical accompaniment for every kind of ballet exercise. You have the option of selecting the same track in different time signatures and can adjust the tempo and even the number of bars in the song to suit your choreography. It also allows you to make playlists within the app, which is useful if (like me) you teach several different classes and levels. Cons: The music isn't the prettiest and the sound quality is lacking compared to most CDs. Pre-planning is also required if you don't want to have to stop to count the number of bars in your combo before starting the music.
I'm always looking for new class music suggestions so throw 'em at me in the comments!