Music solutions for a crowded practice floor

Have you ever arrived to practice with your partner and found the room crowded and noisy? It happens to everyone and it can present a problem when you want or need to practice to music.

So how do you share auditory space with a large group of people? You can try to take turns–this may work if you have a good relationship with the other folks on the floor. But if you want to guarantee that you’ll have the ability to practice to your own music whenever you want, then consider some technological solutions.

(For purposes of this exploration, I will assume that at least one partner already owns an MP3 player and that both partners own a set of earbuds.)

Earphone splitter + Armband+ 2 sets of earbuds

This is by far, the most inexpensive option–a standard earphone splitter sells for less than $10; many mp3 player armbands run for less than $30. Earphone splitters are a great solution when two or more people want to listen to the same music over separate sets of earphones.  They even make versions that allow for individual volume control. I recommend using an armband in order keep your MP3 player close to your ears, conserving the reach of your earphone wires.

Trusty old splitters. Everybody should have a set.

With this solution, one partner should strap the MP3 player to their arm, plug in the splitter, then plug in each set of earphones into the split jacks.

Pros: A cheap solution using components easily purchased online or at your local Radio Shack.

Cons: The partners are wired together. I don’t recommend underarm turns or open choreography. This solution would only really work if you’re planning to practice closed figures. It would probably work fine for international standard.

2 sets wireless earphones + Earphone splitter

This option is definitely more expensive—wireless earphones tend to run about $400, (although there are a few options like this Plantronics headset for $75; I wonder if it’s any good). Wireless headphones are just that—wireless, meaning that they sit in your ears and connect to your music player using bluetooth signals. No more worrying about tangled wires.  No more MP3 players strapped to your arms either.  You simply plug a transmitter into your MP3 player and it transmits your music directly to your earbuds.

Spendy Wireless earphones

The challenge with this solution is making it work for two people. My hypothesis is that perhaps one could use a splitter on the MP3 player in order to plug in two different transmitters for two different sets of earphones. Who knows? This might work. Let me know if you’ve tried it, or if you can think of a better solution.

Pros: Less hassle: no wires to tangle and nothing strapped to your arm. Dance any dance, no worries.

Cons: Expensive components that are not as easy to find. I wonder if you could wander into your local Bose store and ask them to let you test-drive a set.

1 set wireless earphones + 1 set regular earphones + Earphone splitter + armband

The middle-of-the-road solution, of course, is to combine these two approaches: have one partner strap the MP3 player to their arm with the armband. Plug in an earphone splitter and attach one set of standard earphones to be used by the armband wearer. Into the other splitter jack, plug in the transmitter for the wireless headphones, to be worn by the other partner.  Would this work? Maybe. I’m hopeful.

Pros: The middle ground, in terms of price and convenience. Nobody is likely to get tangled in wires, allowing you to dance just about any dance.

Cons: One of you still has something strapped to your arm with wires and things hanging out. Not ideal, but maybe you can live with it if both partners don’t want to shell out for spendy wireless earphones.


  1. Or go without music, focusing on slow technique to build muscle memory. Take it as a sign from the dance gods to work on other aspects of your dancing.

    • True enough. I was more interested in exploring technological solutions, but you’re right that you could just take advantage of the lack of music to work on other things.

  2. I’ve heard of some people who each have their own mp3 player and try to start playing at the same time. “On my mark…three, two, one…”

    To the original mp3 player, I add a splitter, FM transmitter (~$15), and one more cheap (~$20) mp3 player/FM radio. (basically the same principle as the wireless earphones, but poorer reception for lower price) Total cost ~$40. Not having to listen to the wedding dance lesson play “Ribbon in the Sky” for the bazillionth time: priceless!

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