In order to flawlessly pair music with your cheer routine, you’ll need to employ the simple, but powerful, 8-count sheet. An 8-count sheet is a textual representation of your choreography that can be used by a music producer to place sound effects and music at just the right moments throughout your routine. It’s not difficult to fill out an 8-count sheet, but the clearer you are at conveying your desires, the more likely it is that you’ll end up with a high-impact performance.
An 8-count sheet looks much like an Excel document, with 46 rows of 8-counts for a 2:30 mix or routine, and 27 8-counts for a 1:30 routine. Each row going across represents an 8-count (just like you count at practice), and each of those 8 boxes is one beat of music as you travel from left to right. Along the left-hand column of the sheet, there is space to describe each section of the routine, and in the notes section there is space to write which songs you want to use for each part of the routine.
Before you complete the 8-count sheet, we suggest you take a video of your team performing the routine and then play back the recording while counting very slowly. You will need to repeat the same 8-count a few times to note where each action is happening. You do not need to write in every box on the sheet, but you may want to fill out a little more than just the spots where you want sound effects so there is a point of reference for the music producer. They need to understand what is happening in order to find the best part of a song for each section as the movement unfolds.
If you have an action that you would like highlighted with a sound effect, such as a toe touch or flip, you will need to type that in on the exact count when the action happens. Do not list the sound effect on the counts building up to or coming down from the action, such as the prep, dip, or sit, as you want the effect on the count when the flip actually happens.
On the left-hand margin of the sheet, we highly recommend that you list the sections and transitions of your routine. We always plan on using one song per section, or maybe two if it is a long section. In some cases, it is virtually impossible to tell what is happening by the count sheets we receive if the left side is not completed. You do not want the song changing during the high point of a stunt or pyramid, and you don’t want the climax of a song happening while you are transitioning (walking) to the next section.
Another helpful tip is to include which song you would like for each section on the notes section of the 8-count sheet so the music producer can mix the music to your liking. If you are unsure of where you would like to place each song within the routine, you can also leave that to the experts and simply list the eight songs you want included, allowing the producer to select the ideal song for each section.
And that’s pretty much all there is to filling out an 8-count sheet! To get an idea of what well-mixed cheer music sounds like, check out our selection of cheer mixes here. And feel free to reach out for our help as you craft the perfect mix for your next competition routine!