| You can’t learn the
Schuhplattler from books, and learning from videos can be a slow
and frustrating experience. Kids in particular need a real live teacher who can
demonstrate the steps, adjust the tempo of the dance and the learning process
as needed, find the right balance between hard work and rest, and stand behind
a youngster who is having difficulty, moving his hands through the dance.
Unless you are already proficient in the Schuhplattler or
know someone who is, you may peruse some of the hundreds of websites that
purport to teach the dance. Many of these are confusing, the dancing is too
fast, and the dancers are shown facing you, which makes it hard to know which
hand or foot to slap or step with. However, the Alpenrose Schuh-plattler group
of Orlando, Florida, has several excellent videos of the Heitauer, Reit im Winkel
and Gauplattler, showing the dance both in slow motion and up-to-speed, and
they have one dancer facing the camera and one facing away, so you can watch
whichever one you find most helpful. If you have a good video editing program,
you can make a similar version of any Schuhplattler you find on the web by
slowing the tempo and making a mirror image of the video.
Choosing & Designing Your Schuhplattler
Once you know some of the Schuhplattler moves, you need to
choose a basic dance for your kids to learn. There are some 150 basic Plattlers
to choose from, as well as marches, Ländlers, and acrobatic figures that can be
added to fill out a complete dance. A typical full Schuhplattler might include
an entrance march, the Plattler, a second march, the Plattler again, and an exit
march. If this seems like a bit too much marching and too little dancing, you
can cut the entrance and exit music and include other material between the
Your performance may also include girls in dirndls twirling
about the stage as the boys slap and leap, or having the boys and girls dance
together, but this is beyond the scope of our website. In any case, teaching
the slap-dance to boys and girls in lederhosen will probably be the most
challenging part of your work.
The basic Plattler and the march are usually each sixteen
measures long, and the march usually turns and moves in the opposite direction
after eight measures. A “shuffle march” is standard, but many groups have found
interesting variations. Acrobatics and choreographed rough-housing are
especially appealing to kids and can be found in the Ranggler and the Schuhplattler Tramin’s Fasslschwänzer.
The sound of slapping and stomping is a major feature of the Schuhplattler
and the best surface to dance on is a wooden floor, but if you will be
performing on asphalt or grass, you may need a dance that does not have a lot
of stomping. Alternately, you can make adjustments to a standard dance that normally begins with stomping, provided the traditionalists aren’t
In his book, Auf Geht's: Das Buch übers Scuhplatteln (1990), Franz
Hegenbarth presents several notation systems that have been used to record
Schuhplattler figures, and others can be found online. It may be more
convenient to devise your own, and one such “homemade” system can be seen on
this page. If you are familiar with Reit im Winkel, incidentally, you will see
that this version has been altered to remove the big stomps at the start of the
dance, since in this case it was to be performed on grass, and stomping on grass would not have been a very exciting way to begin a performance! Purists may be horrified to
see a traditional Schuhplattler modified in this way, but if no one is around
to enforce the rules, go ahead and create a dance that works for your kids.
Learning/Teaching the Dance
Set the steps/slaps/stomps to a count such as “one and two and three and four,
five six,” using the numbers for the quarter-note beats and saying “and” for the steps/slaps/stomps that fall in between. Count aloud as you teach to the
kids; you may find that in a particular dance, every time you say “four” your
are slapping the heel of your right hand on your left shoe behind your back,
and every time you say “six” you are are slapping your right hand on the sole of your right foot in front of you. This will make it easier for your kids to remember what to do as you count.
Teach the dance in little bites. For example, count “one and two and three
and four” and then stop. Learn that much well
before you go on to “five and six.” With younger kids who are having trouble,
you can stand behind them, take hold of their hands, and help them do the slaps
as you count slowly without music. You can then play the music (perhaps slowly
at first) and see if they can get up to speed.
Master the steps and slaps before you add the hopping, and then practice the
hopping without the steps and slaps. This may seem silly, since all you are
doing is hopping three times on one foot and then three times on the other in
time to the music, but the steps/slaps and the hopping should be virtually
automatic by themselves before you try putting them together. When you do put
them together, you may find that the kids may not be able to hop slowly and you
will have to take the dance up to full speed.
Composing and Playing the Music
Your complete Schuhplattler and even some basic Plattlers may require
transition time for the kids to get in position for the next part of the dance.
This can be done by slowing the tempo, as in the Ranggler video on this page,
or by adding a measure or two of filler, as in the River Valley Plattler on our
Since the dancers will do best if they know exactly how much time they
have for a particular transition, your accompanist needs to be consistent in
rehearsals and performances. Once the transition time is set, you might have
the accompanist make a recording of it that can be used for rehearsal or reviewed
periodically to insure the tempos are consistent.
If you don’t have an accompanist, you can write the music with a program
like MuseScore (free), scan it with a program like PhotoScore ($250), or scan
it first and then make changes in MuseScore. MuseScore will play your score in any of
several instruments, and if you use the same recording for rehearsals and
performances, you won’t have to worry about consistency.
Some Schuhplattlers, Marches and Polkas
Reit im Winkel
Steffl von Talgau
The Schuhplattler Tramin performing the Ranggler