There are two different ways you can approach this. I like to call these the strict method and fun method. First, let us imagine a beginner popping class at a dance studio that uses the strict method. The instructor would start by explaining all of the different muscles groups for hitting, demonstrate, then most of the class would be spent drilling different hits. The second class in the strict method would focus on boogaloo, one of the most important, but hardest styles within popping. Hitting and boogaloo are no doubt key component of popping, but if this is someone’s first ever popping lesson, drilling hitting right off the bat could have them running for the exit and never returning.
The advantages to the strict method is you will know right away if you are cut out for popping or not and you won’t waste your time or money. It also weeds out beginners that are not motivated. The classes would get small very quickly since three quarters of the people would not come back, but a smaller class means more personal attention which can help growth. Is it a good method? It really depends on the person, but for most people it is not the best way. I personally think this method is too intimidating, harsh, and doesn’t let people fall in love with popping.
When I teach popping classes at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the first class is packed with people that have zero dance experience. I think it is important for these complete beginners to have fun and feel the accomplishment of learning something in their first few lessons. This sense of accomplishment will provide them with motivation to learn hitting and boogaloo later on in the lesson series. My first class is always arm and body waves because it is easy. People are genuinely scared of their first dance class, so much so that they bring five friends and the stand to the back of the room.
Teaching waving gets people comfortable and gives them the best chance of walking away with a movement from the first lesson. They become more confident and likely to return for the second lesson, usually gliding since it is also fairly easy. The goal is to ease them into it, and most importantly, give them the best shot of falling in love with popping. Getting them hooked means they are more likely to stick it out through the difficult hitting and boogaoo lessons. My DVDs are structured this way so they get harder as you progress and hitting is taught after waving and robotics. The exact order you learn should really depend on the styles that come easiest to you and the ones you enjoy most. I like to teach waving first because it is the first style I learned and it made me want to learn hitting and get more into popping. I really want to stress that both these methods are good and have advantages and disadvantages.