We all rely on music as a tool. Tools are used for building things and it's common to describe our practice of creating profiles as; "I'm building my class". Most of us put a bunch of effort into; "building our playlist". Track selection is often by BPM or song length. We categorize and file/store our music in ways designed make the selection quicker and easier, i.e. flats, climbs, etc...
In my workshop at home I do the same thing. I have a big tool box with a bunch of drawers. Each drawer has a specific type of tool (sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers), many are arranged by size (1/4", 1/2", 10mm, 14mm), or purpose (Phillips Head, Straight Blade, Allen Head).
I'm a self-professed "Tool Guy" - Tim Taylor was one of my favorite TV characters of all time. Tim understood it's "all about the tools". My Grandfather was often accused (by his wife) of "spending 5 hours to design and build a tool that would save him 2 minutes, on a job he'd only do once." So I come by this naturally 🙂 Whenever I need to build/fix/repair or create something the first thing I do is find the tools I'll need for the job. And no, I'm not beyond spending an afternoon/day/month designing a tool to solve some problem I'm having. Case in point is my Red Pedal Tool for studios using the red Schwinn triple link pedals. That took about a year from start, to a finished product.
My class preparation probably isn't much different from yours [wlm_firstname]. I start with a basic "plan" and then I select different tracks based on their value as a tool; "I need a 6 minute song @ 150 BPM for this climb I have planned" isn't any different from; "I need a 14mm end-wrench to remove the lawnmower blade, so I can sharpen it".
The resulting playlist is very functional, very Indoor Cycling 2.0. But I'm learning can also be a bit sterile - dare I say soulless?
This morning a long-time member said hello to me, as I was leaving the club after my 6:00 am class. Her comment stopped me in my tracks; "I so wish I had taken your class this morning John... everyone was saying how great the music was".
That's not something I hear very often, to be truthful, almost never. What was different this morning? I didn't use a playlist of my own creation. In fact the playlist I used didn't even fit what I had planned. The BPM was all wrong, efforts started in the middle of the songs - and often continued through track changes. There was nothing right about any of it (Rick Springfield?) - the musical equivalent of using a butter knife instead of a proper screwdriver... and yet they loved it.
This morning I used Team ICG Master Trainer Missy Crosson's playlist from her ICI/PRO Podcast # 263 — Rolling to the Classics Audio PROfile.
So, Is it wrong to rely on music as a tool? I'm seeing how it could be for me.
- Please come back to my class! - May 30, 2023
- My Life Time Instructor Teach Back - May 24, 2023
- I'm Fine, Thanks - May 21, 2023
I get compliments on my class music very often. And I learned that the motivation comes from the music’s heart and soul and not BPMs.
So for instance, a great “fast run” near the end of class song that usually gets great reactions from students is Michael Franti’s The Sound of Sunshine. And for a hard climb P!nk’s Try or Peter Hoellen’s Skyrim are always winners.
If you ask me about the BPMs I just don’t have the faintest idea. I select the songs because they make me set me in a mood of climbing or going fast.
So maybe, your selections are too technical and lack some of the “how do I feel when I listen to this song” type of assessment.
I still think that music can be a great tool to enrich a spin class. I just maybe that you approach is too mechanical.
Being new to the Schwinn program, I find myself scrutinizing over BPM to RPM. I never did that with the Spinning program even though it has its range of cadences for described terrain. Schwinn is definitely more RPM focused. Especially when you have the numbers in front of you. Kind of stresses me out. I have a good ear for matching tempo but I do feel more restricted somehow in my music choices. Hmm
You may be onto something here John. Keep working with it and you’ll get many more compliments. I’ve always let the music tell the story.
If I’m looking for passion – when they close their eyes and dig in – it’s the music that tips the scale toward max effort. Usually the ‘big finish’.
BPM plays a much larger role when working drills like climbing or cadence. Then the music sets the pace but the motivation is more personal.
I may be that what caught me was the positive reaction vs. the the typical benign response I receive.
Which sets up a new question; should we be looking for “that was great John!” every class we teach?
Every class is like peaking everyday. Not likely, but once or twice a month depending on how many classes you teach is very doable. If the music don’t work you can always try pushups. 😉
Music sets the tone for class, but don’t be restricted by the beat! Be creative and use words to connect your class and draw them in. As a cycle instructor, I am always searching for the next song that has that little something to take my class to the next level. Love to keep my people coming back for more!
I pretty much play top 40 hits from the 70’s and forward. If a song is a top 40 hit then most participants in the class are going to like it. Music motivates people to work harder, helps them feel really good about it releasing all those endorphins. I mix and match, sometimes with a theme like “old rock n roll” or music put together for an endurance ride or maybe a climb. I do get compliments on my music. And yes, sometimes people let me know if they don’t like a song. But I’ve learned that it is really hard to please everyone in every class. I don’t use BPM so much as how the music makes you want to ride. Like the faster the beat the faster the cadence; I use slower music for most climbs.
This is all great feedback especially for us new to the realm. I feel that the music sets up a great base to get people motivated but “how” motivated further depends on the instructor. I encourage sing-alongs, whistling and even screams (of pain or enthusiasm) to bring everyone into the mix. In a class of 34 participants of all ages, with different tastes in music, the instructor is the bridge between a fun class with fun music and an awesome class with awesome music. ‘Lucky Strike’ from Maroon 5 is always awesome for those fast cadence intervals.