An experience common to most beginners in tango, I suspect, is learning something in a class, feeling somewhat comfortable with it by the end of the lesson – and then struggling to remember it later.
Bridgitta recommended creating drawings as aide-mémoire for myself. There is, she suggested, something about the drawing process itself that helps embed things into our memory …
I initially resisted this on the grounds that I am genetically incapable of drawing, and haven’t handwritten anything for more than a decade, so have more-or-less forgotten how to use a pen. However, it turns out that my diagrams do mean something to me, if not to anyone else, and I can just about read my own handwriting.
I’ve been paperless since 2011, which meant my attempt to keep a physical notebook wasn’t very successful as I don’t carry one with me, and rarely remembered to update it. I solved this by getting an Apple Pencil for my iPad. Now I can draw the diagrams on my iPad, which also makes them available on my iPhone and Mac – so they are always accessible.
For someone who can’t draw, the Apple Pencil also makes it easy to make corrections.
I don’t have enough experience with them yet to know whether they do the job as advertised, but it is definitely helpful to have diagrams and notes to which I can refer.
My ‘bear of little tango brain’ approach means I only attempt to learn one version of each figure we cover, but I think when I repeat the classes next cycle, I may then be at a point where I can start noting some variations.
My long-term goal, of course, is to understand the principles and be able to have my tango become truly improvised on a step-by-step basis – but variations on defined sequences are definitely going to be an interim step. I’ll be drawing diagrams for some time yet!