Cheerleading mixes continue to evolve each year with new songs, musical trends and advancements in technology. These days cheerleading mixes have a lot in common with cheerleading uniforms – they can be pre-made or customized! While choreography needs to be easy on the eyes, the music needs to be easy on the ears! The music that is used for performances and competition routines can influence a squad’s inspiration, the audience’s enthusiasm and the judges’ interest. Having a great mix will also help keep a squad excited about the routine. Pick something with high energy, but also make sure that the beats and tempo changes aren’t going to annoy the audience. The audience should want to jump out of their seats, throw their arms up in the air and shake their stuff during the performance! Most routines are a few minutes long, so choosing a song that has the same beat over and over, at the same tempo, is going to get very old, very fast. Don’t mistake the tempo of a song for energy either. An energetic mix for cheerleading will actually include variation in tempo and beat. Combine up and low tempos to build a sense of drama for the routine. The up tempo sections will be hard hitting, fast dance moves, and the low tempos will highlight stunts. Many mixes also include sound effects to enhance certain choreography and stunts, as well as “dead air” moments that allow a squad to insert a chant. Premade vs. Customized A general rule is to avoid premade mixes for competitive routines. It might mean adding extra fundraising activities during the season, but it will be worth it to avoid an embarrassing moment at a competition. If another squad performs first and has the same music, it is likely to add stress and pressure to the “follow-up’ squad. The judges may also start to get bored if they hear the same song over and over, and that agitation may cost a team or two some points. If budget is an issue, get creative! One idea is to reach out to local musicians that would be willing to work out a partnership and exchange a mix for some advertising, or a chance to perform at a half time show during a season game. For regular season routines, premade mixes should be fine. There are lots of different types available, and most are crowd-pleasers! Avoid a Beat Downer Make several copies of the final mix, and designate “keepers’. The coach, assistant coach, choreography and even one of the parents should be responsible for bringing a copy with them to all performances and competitions. Be exciting! Music should be tested in a big space like an auditorium. There are songs that may sound amazing when played through headphones or in a small space like a car, but can lose definition when played in a bigger space. While it may be tempting to stir things up by using several genres of music in a mix, use caution! The themes of the songs need to stay similar. Check to see if songs have been remixed in the overall genre being used, but stay away from mixing several different styles of music. Keep the music fresh. Consider straying away from the most popular songs, since it is likely that several teams will use them. Get creative and really think about the best way to represent the squad’s skills, the school’s personality and the community’s spirit. Be appropriate. Make sure the music is listened to carefully and approved by a coach and captain. Keep an eye out for risque lyrics and music themes, and decide if those have a place in the routine, or if they should be avoided. Check out the all our tips for choreography in the free Cheerleading Guide to Choreography!