How to Make Your At-Home Dance Practices More Effective

The Importance of Practice

Practice Makes Progress

Our Highland Dancer Blog has already covered the basics of effective practicing for dancers – from dance notebooks to our class practice boards.

This time, we want to get advice from all of our fabulous instructors AND from our amazing dancers. 

First, we’re covering practice tips from Saorsa Studio owner, instructor, and RSOBHD-certified Highland dance judge, Nicole Odo. Nicole’s 6 tips for practicing are essential for dancers looking to make positive progress!

Then, we’re asking our dance family for their tips on how to practice effectively – what do we love about practicing? What do we love to hate about practicing? Read on for more!

Nicole's 6 Tips for Practice

Nicole is the owner of Saorsa Studio, an Instructor, a Shanachie Senior Dancer, and an RSOBHD-Certified Highland Dance Judge

  1. “Make a plan! Keep track of the corrections your teacher has given you at class, and plan your practices accordingly. I like to pick a list of 6 – 10 things that I need to work on, and commit time to each correction for a few weeks
  2.  “It takes 21 days to make a habit, and I’ve been told you need to repeat something 50 – 400 times a day for it to become muscle memory. Using that rule, I take my list of things to practice, and repeat the corrections CORRECTLY (they don’t count if you aren’t thinking about what you need to fix)
  3. “Find fun music to practice to! You’ll rarely find me practicing to bagpipes, other than full dances
  4. “Start small and work your way up to big. What I mean by this is take your correction, isolate the smallest version of it to fix it, before working on the whole movement. For example, say I needed to work on my half points in my pas de basques:
    1. Find strengthening exercises I can use for my feet. Do 50+ reps on each foot with things like resistance bands, basic exercises, etc.
    2. Place the foot on the half point and beat 50+ reps each foot. Make sure my half point is CORRECT.
    3. Walk through the pas de basque movement for 50+ reps on the barre, making sure the half point is still fixed.
    4. Do pas de basque with elevation REALLY slowly to music on the barre. Half time or even slower!
    5. Step away from the barre and do pas de basques slowly / half time speed with elevation and correct half points.
    6. Try pas de basque up to speed to music.
    7. Try pas de basque up to speed to music in a STEP!

      If during any of these steps, you find yourself unable to maintain the correction, that is where you stop for that week! Don’t move to the next step until you’ve perfected it.

      Remembering you’re likely working on a handful of corrections at a time, and you’ll need at least 3 weeks for each for muscle memory. Planning your practices out is so essential, and starting small is how you fix the details!

  5. “Not every practice needs to be strictly Highland dance. I enjoy incorporating strength training, HIIT training and more, based on what I’m trying to work on in my dancing. It’s all beneficial, and you can typically find exercises that will support the dance correction you’re working on!”
  6. “Pick 1 – 2 days a week that are more focused on cardio / stamina, which means a lot more dancing through the full dances, steps, and maybe HIIT training, to keep your physical performance up!”

Advice from our Dance Family


Saorsa Studio Instructor, Leaping Lassies Dancer, Shanachie Senior Dancer

“My number one thing is to pick one very specific thing per practice session that you work on for 10-15 minutes at a time. Literally repeat your corrections like a hundred times – just stand there and do it over and over and over again. 

“And do things slow! As slow as you possibly can before you even try to speed anything up.” 


Twirling Thistles Dancer

“Pick a movement that you’re not good at, and do it 50 times, nicely, every day”


Saorsa Studio Instructor, Leaping Lassies Dancer, Shanachie Senior Dancer

“My trick for practicing – which I absolutely hate doing but recognise that it’s effective – is videoing myself and watching it back. There’s nothing more humbling than watching back a video of yourself. 

It gives me a better idea of what I need to focus on. Not only is it helpful for fixing existing corrections, it’s also helpful for finding new corrections I hadn’t noticed before. I can’t say enough how humbling it is. But it works!”


Twirling Thistles Dancer, Shanachie Junior Dancer

“Do a dance, and see what you did wrong. Then do it again, better.” 

(We wish it was that easy!!)


Saorsa Studio Instructor, Leaping Lassies Dancer, Shanachie Senior Dancer

“Don’t always practice to bagpipes, and remember to practice with slower or faster music than your regular music.”


Twirling Thistles Dancer, Shanachie Junior Dancer

“When you do a dance, video yourself in slow motion. Then, look over yourself really slow.

“Also, pick a movement that you could do better on, and just do it very very slow a whole bunch of times.”

No matter your favourite way to practice, we wish you focus and inspiration as you work toward making your dance dreams a reality!

For further reading on how to reach your goals, check out our previous post on the topic⬇️

Happy practicing!✨

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Upcoming events at Saorsa

Dancing in a Winter Wonderland – 2023 holiday recital

Saturday, December 9th at 5:30pm
Theatre Bernard Poirier at the Centre Communautaire Sainte-Anne

Annual Studio Christmas party

Sunday, December 10th 3-5pm at Saorsa North

All dancers and families are welcome to join us for holiday snacks and activities hosted by the Fredericton Highland Dance Association!