Classical dance numbers, such as Swan Lake or The Nutcracker Suite, may energize formal ballet or ballroom dancers - but they aren’t likely to get 21st century audiences up on their feet. To achieve that goal, professional violinists need to expand their repertoire and add more contemporary dance numbers to the mix.
Whether you find yourself hired to play at a wedding or another special event, or you’re striking out into the more public performance arena, access to dance-worthy violin sheet music is a bonus and can help you gain more gigs as you develop your public persona.
The suggestions offered below span the music genre gamut, and they provide a starting place as you curate playlists for any occasion.
The Bride & Groom’s Dance
The classic bride-and-groom dance is one of the most sacred moments outside of the wedding ceremony. You may also find yourself playing at silver or golden anniversary parties where the featured couple requests a romantic dance of their own.
Even if their DJ has a copy on hand, couples may prefer a live, instrumental version, especially if some of the lyrics are inappropriate for a multi-generational audience, or they’re maintaining a more formal feel throughout the event.
In those cases, you’ll be asked to play a specific song, and the internet becomes your best ally. There is a range of online sheet music resources. Some of the most useful are:
The Best 100 Dance Tunes of All Time
Slant Magazine put together an incredibly comprehensive list of titles, The 100 Greatest Dance Songs of All Time. Perusing through the selections is a wonderful way to beef up your event-focused sheet music collection, and it includes music from multiple eras and genres.
- Every Time You Touch Me (Moby)
- Dancing Queen (ABBA)
- It Takes Two (Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock)
- Sweet Dreams (Eurythmics)
- Groove is in the Heart (Deee Lite)
When you and/or your string quartet play these famous dance numbers, audience members or guests are going to go crazy! There’s something infectious about hearing traditional club or dance music played on a violin and other “typically classical” instruments.
Jazz – Standards and Otherwise
From the Jazz standards that everyone loves, like Unforgettable, by Nat King Cole to newer tunes in the jazz genre, like Feelin’ Good, by Michael Bublé, jazz crosses the multi-generational dance divide.
One of the best, more contemporary jazz songs for getting people up on their feet is Jump, Jive & Wail. Originally composed by Louis Prima, the song was made famous by the Brian Setzer Orchestra. You may also want to invest in a book of jazz songs for violin, such as 101 Jazz Songs for Violin, which includes all of the standards most audiences would ever request.
Heat Things Up with Some Tango Music
Tango is known for its catchy, irresistible, and sensual rhythms – and it’s a crowd-pleaser. We featured Tango No. 3, by José Ferer in our post, Top 10 Classical Acoustic Guitar Compositions…” If you enjoy playing tango, or your audience seems to respond, check out, Tango Classics for Violin and Piano to increase your tango repertoire.
Bluegrass, Americana, and Folk Music
Since your violin converts into a fiddle with just the flip of a sheet music page, playing bluegrass, Americana, and ethnic folk music is a great way to get feet tapping and to inspire event guests to get out on the dance floor. We recommend visiting, 13 Popular Compositions For Fiddling Around, which includes a variety of folk-style music – including tunes rooted in Celtic, Jewish, and Romani (Gypsy) culture.
Don’t forget that your willingness to move your body and tap your feet enhances the music you play, and let’s audience members know it’s okay to move or dance to the music.
Do you play dance music on your violin for audiences or at special events? Share some of your favorites or recommendations with the StringOvation audience in the comments below.
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