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The 3 Instruments of a Tap Dancer

Published on July 18th 2019 by Hillary-Marie

At the end of this episode I will be sharing with you One of the instruments that we often do not think about that is so wildly important for us as tap dancer that I bet you are not taking care of.

Let’s work from the Ground up:


Everybody has their own preference based on the feel and the sound. 

  • Fast floor: one that’s a little more slippery, good for sliding.
  • Slower floor: a little stickier, to feel grounded.
  • Wood Preference: oak over maple because of the grain or the sound difference.
  • Sound chamber, other’s don’t like the open, hollow sound.
  • Portability vs. Permanent

For more information on flooring options that I have used, check out these podcasts: 

007: Tap Dance Floors Part I – in-studio and 013: Tap Dance Floors Part II – portable.

My favorite portable floor is the FasFoot Portable Dance Floor 


(If you choose to wear them, I did a barefoot tap dance recording of Hallelujah).


The human body is the original instrument of the world and it is in the instrument that we use in our artform, and you have to take care of it! (And I will share with you one part of your body that I bet you are not taking care of!)

But! Here’s one part of your body that I bet you haven’t been thinking about…


Every tap festival panel discussion I’ve ever done, I noticed that the entire panel of faculty would lean forward and say “can you say that louder?” We’re all losing our hearing! We shouldn’t be shocked… tap dance is loud as hell.

I never thought much of hearing protection until I met my husband who’s a drummer, and he takes his hearing protection seriously. At first I thought it was silly, but as time has moved forward, I’ve learned that this is real, we have to protect our hearing, our body is our instrument and our ears are KEY to what we do.

I mention in my tap floors episode that when I dance at home on my O’Mara floor, that I wear hearing protection. The sound of the floor is so loud and the room I’m in is very live. I dance in noise canceling headphones, that also allow environmental sound in (if I choose). 

Consider taking care of your hearing. You can use noise canceling headphones, or plugs: cheaper foam ear plugs, or you can go higher end and get custom, molded to your ear, in-ear plugs or even those with and interchangeable decibel filter. Now, I wear hearing protection when I practice, and when I travel, especially if I’m getting on the subway or airplane.

If you are taking one tap class per week, ear plugs are probably not necessary. If you are a teacher who is regularly in a room with 20 tap dancers, or are regularly practicing at home and constantly turning your volume up, you may want to consider protecting your hearing.

So there you have it… top to bottom, the three instruments of a tap dancer include the body, the shoes, and the floor. 

I want to hear from you!

Is there another instrument that I missed? What tap shoe do you like? Have you considered ear protection? I love to hear from you. Comment on the show notes or in the ITapOnline Community Facebook Group.

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