Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How to: Pick Figure Skating Program Music

  1. It’s time for Ice Girl to have new music for her long program and we’re all relieved. Don’t get me wrong – Ice Girl’s current music is pretty darn cool (Laura’s Zest from Project Runway). However, it’s been a year and it’s just not as zesty as it used to be.

    So, Ice Coach e-mailed me to start the process. Every coach is different, but here’s how our music selection process goes:
    1. Ice Coach says, “We need music.”
    2. I open up Amazon and our library system’s online catalog
    3. My Amazon search terms: Boston Pops, Cincinnati Pops, movie soundtrack
    4. Poke around Amazon, click on composers, follow Amazon recommended titles
    5. Check to see if the CD is available in our library system, requesting it from different libraries
    6. Enter search terms in library: pops, movie soundtrack (limited results)
    7. Collect CDs from library
    8. Listen to CDs in van with Ice Girl, a mini-notebook, and pen. Listen to some selections, pass over others
    9. Create a mix CD to give to coach
    10. Final decision: coach
    Some skaters or skater moms download MP3s from Amazon (pricey; I know a woman who spent $40 doing this). Others create mix CDs from their own collections. Coach’s input. I know a skater who spent a lot of time making a mix CD for her coach. None of the selections was appropriate, the coach said. The skater was pretty sad about this, but the coach had something specific in mind for the skater. Ultimately, it’s the coach’s decision which selection is the best for the skater, possible choreography, and the level. However, having input and collaboration makes the skater feel better about skating over and over to the same music for the next year. And, let’s face it: we all know the music that makes us cringe at the rink. Please comment: How do you and your coach select music? I expect everyone is different and it would be nice to share your process in the comments section.
Update: I think we have a winner! It looks like Ice Girl will skate to a mix of music from the French film Amelie. You haven't seen that film? I tell you, it's awesome. Yes, it has subtitles, but it's very, very good.


poor clare said...

I usually think about what type of program we are looking to do (technical, artistic, etc.) and listen to music thinking of this. I look for pieces that are catchy yet not something that everyone will pick. Also, I look for a piece of music that I feel connected to. I give my coach 7 - 10 choices. She listens to these and narrows it down to what she thinks is best. We then pick the best choice between us.

JJ said...

Just a quick comment, you are going to cut down on your search time if you use a search engine that is geared specifically towards skating e.g. Then you will only have to pick up a couple of CDs from the library or a few mp3 purchases off of Amazon.

angel said...

I have a totally different view than you on coaches, so my take on music is different as well.
The skater has to like the music, and has to skate to the music. Not me, the coach or anyone else. Therefore, the skater needs to have serious say in what the music will be.My kids pick some pieces they like and then the coach listens.Together they pick music for the season.
Imo the coach isnt the end decision maker on any issue. We are as the employers, we are as the parents and the skater is the skater.If the skater doesnt like the music, they will not enjoy their own program.Judges like to see joy from skaters, not just movement to background music.

katiedear said...

Go to the library. You can get this FREE!

Anonymous said...

I love going to the library to pick up new music ideas for my daughter. I also think that it should be a collaboration between the skater and the coach about what type of music to skate too. My daughter likes very unusual music that no other skater will be skating too. Therefore, she usually picks music and then gives it to her coach to listen to and then her coach picks selections that are easiest to mix together and what would be appealing to the judges.
My daughter has skated to some really good movie soundtracks. Her current music is from the Corpse Bride (long program) and a band called Barage (short program). She is also skating to Green Day "Wake Me Up When September Ends" for her ice show solo. Some other music she has skated to in the past are; soundtrack from "The Series of Unfortunate Events", Season's of Love (Holiday Show), Car Wash from the Shark Tale soundtrack and The Little Princess soundtrack from the 1990's movie version of the book. I hope some of these music selections will be helpful for skaters that want to pick music that is unconventional but really impress the judges.

Anonymous said...

My daughter just pulls out some selections on what she's interested and her coach and her listen to them. When they both have picked the song they like (usually done in about 15 min) then the coach takes the cd to a professional who does most the cut and mixing at our entire arena. She actually does this as a buisness and has a website. The cd comes back, laser labled, in a cover, with all information on it, and with our original cd as well. She is very reasonable, I think for everything we pay $20.00

Peyton Lane said...

My coach had a son who was musically gifted and really had an ear for music. She was always open to any suggestions we had for music and then would usually have him cut music from there. As a kid, I never took much interest in the selection process, just waited for her to present the music to me...

As an adult, I generally take more interest in my music selection and like to try my hand at cutting my own music. Ultimately, I usually let my coach's son do the final cut because he has better technology.

Anonymous said...

I was doing a number with another skated for a holiday show one year and we picked out the "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" song by NSYNC. We were working with her coach on it, and she preferred slower music. Both of our styles of skating were more suited for an more upbeat program (or a program that at least contains some upbeat parts). We ended up skating to Silent Night and it was really bad. I think the final choice needs to be a balance between what the skater wants and what the coach wants. The coach can have the final say-so, but should definitely take into account what the skater wants. If the skater hates the music, they won't skate the program well. On the other hand, when the skater picks out music she/he really needs to assess her/his artistic strengths and what the program is for. I had the best luck with movie soundtracks.

Anonymous said...

Oops, the above post should have said "another skater" not "another skated" Sorry!

Jillybean said...

While it's true that the skater needs to love the music that they skate to, it's important not to ignore the advice of your coach. They have more experience at choosing music, and they will know which music will best fit your skater, their personality and their skating level.
It's good to choose music that nobody else is using. Be unique.
When I coached, I usually chose the music, but if the skater didn't like it, we would keep looking until we found something that would work.
For my daughter's music, we find and cut the music ourselves. Our coach is happy with this situation, (less work for her) and has only vetoed a music choice one time. said...

Right now, I go look for music. Then I pick selections that I think match her skating "personality" and energy level. I so try to look for something that has a mix of slow/fast and enough changes and beats/breaks to emphasize jumps, spins, spirals, etc.

Then we narrow it down and send our top 5 faves to the coach who then helps my daughter make a choice. It does help that the coach and I seem to have similar ideas about what would "work". That might change later on and I'll follow the coach's lead, but right now we're at a fun level of competition and we're trying to balance what my daughter has fun skating to with what the judges are looking for.

So far it's worked for us. We do go a bit out of the ordinary - right now we're using an instrumental of Ruslana's Wild Dances.

Anonymous said...

We are in the middle of this nightmare right now. Since the skater has to skate to it, the choice should ultimately be up to them.

Anonymous said...

I as a skater feel that it is most certainly not the coach's final decision on music for me. I am the one who has to listen to it at home when I work on my program, I am the one who has to skate it to it for atleast one year if not two and I usually dislike most of the music my coach thinks I would love. If I need music in May I start giving her samples in March because between the two of us it takes a good few months. We have VERY different opinions but after an argument or two we usually work it out and find music we can agree on. I am also the one who cuts the music so I generally know what I can work with to mix and match different pieces together.

tiny skater said...

My coach finds music that she thinks works well with my skating and then i pick from the choses i have and pick the won i lick best.

Anonymous said...

Do you know if it's ok. to skate to both, short and long programs to slow music? (they are not completely slow but they are definitely not fast, and i love them and feel something when in other music i dont, i had never liked so much these music pieces i want to skate to. I mean is it allowed in competition to be slow, not completely but they are not fast?

Unknown said...

I just found your blog today while looking for figure skating patterns online. It's also funny that I spent about 1 hour on itunes listening to music this afternoon. Season is not over yet but I am already thinking on the next!

My skater is younger, not quite 7 1/2 but still, in her short 4.5 years of skating, we have already ran into a snag for music!

I agree with Angel, that the skater must first like the music has it is near impossible to skate to a music you don't and I find (as a skater myself) that the amount of interest I have in the music does influence the amount of time I want to spend hearing it and practicing it.

I always keep a playlist of solo possibilities and as soon as I hear a music I think may work, I put it in there, I also always have my Genius bar on in Itunes so that suggests other musics I may like. When it comes time for a new choreography, I make my skater listen to the choice, see which ones she likes (she tends to start moving t the ones that inspire her, telling when would be a good spot for a spiral sequence, or a jump, etc), I make a CD of her top 5 or so choices and bring them to the coach. So far this worked everytime but one. This year she has a 2 min freestyle program to Mr Magorium's Wonder Imporium and her 2 min interpretive is to Smile from Michael JAckson.

BTW, 2 girls from our club skate to Amélie as well, beautiful music!!

THanks for all the great info!

Mark @ a+ cbt training said...

I believe it depends on the occasion. Select a music that suits on the occasion.

Anonymous said...

There is a new version of "The Prayer" by David Foster. It is a choral arrangement which is stunning. It has great sweeping movements and would lend itself beautifully to figure skating, especially pairs. I know choral music is not usually heard in figure skating but this would be an extraordinary piece. It is on the soundtrack "Heavensong" by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and features the "hitman" David Foster himself on the piano.