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Finding the beat
Posted by martinkleiner
1/26/2015  1:56:00 PM
I know there are a lot of posts already for those of us that have a hard time hearing the beat, much less counting the beat. Part of the problem is that many people have good suggestions, but without immediate feedback telling us if we are right or wrong, practicing on our own could actually be hindrance rather than a help.

So far the best I have found is a four minute youtube video on www.ihatetodance.com. On this video, the author plays the music while simply moving his hand over numbers from 1 to 8 corresponding to the music. To use this site, I can close my eyes and try to listen for the timing in my head, count out loud and then open my eyes and see if i am correct. Tada! Instant feedback.

I can finally hear the difference between the odd beats (1,3,5,7) and even beats (2,4,6,8). However, I cannot hear the difference between the 1, 3, 5, or 7. I can start on an odd or even beat but only get the one beat 25% of the time (statistically this is correct; 1 out of four chances).

Questions:
1. Can someone please tell me the name of some songs that have a rhythm with a very, very bold and obvious "ONE"?
2. I know that this is asking a lot, but if someone could repeat the video like the one on the site mentioned above I be very appreciative. Rather than random music though I would like to have two videos each of specific ballroom dance music (foxtrot, waltz, rumba, chacha, etc.)

At least for me, I need the feedback! I cannot wait until I can ask someone to dance without the fear and anxiety of not knowing when to make that first step!
Re: Finding the beat
Posted by dman
2/16/2015  9:37:00 PM
I helped my coach out for a while with some beginner classes. The method we concluded was most productive and helpful to everybody was to play some music after introducing the beat (mind you it was almost always playing the same song or same beat), but let the dancers start moving on their own to the music. If you are able to move more naturally to the music on your own instead of being told how to move or a structure, it may aide your dancing further in the future. I don't know if this helps, but I sure hope it does.

One of my favorite fox trot songs is Moondance by Harry Connick Jr. and it does have a pretty obvious beat to it.

A good rumba with obvious beat I would recommend Just another woman in love by Anne Murray.

Cha and Waltz have a whole plethora of great songs. Sway by Carlos Santa I believe it is would be a good cha song.

For social dancing I might recommend just getting out and going for it. If you make a few mistakes, so be it. Have fun and enjoy yourself and the time on the floor. Dancing is all about the pleasure of the dance time spent with the partner you have.

Good Luck!
Re: Finding the beat
Posted by Voco
2/18/2015  1:45:00 AM
Hi Martin,
This aspect of dancing is usually not taught properly, or totally neglected, by most dance teachers. Perhaps because they are not trained music teachers. Of course, there are exceptions, as our host Jonathan, who is an expert music teacher as well as a dance teacher.

The reason, I believe is that most dance teachers learn the recognition of beat-1 by instinct. What I am hearing from teachers is that men dancers have more difficulty of recognizing the 1 than lady dancers. So dont be too hard on yourself.

You hear all kinds of suggestions for clues. Like the 1 is the downbeat. When you ask how do I know which one is the downbeat, you get the answer: that is when the conductors baton moves down and the dance teacher looks at you with an expression on his face: you are you not very smart, are you?

Other teachers say listen for the 4 or 8 beat repetition pattern. Still others say try to recognize the 8-measure phrases and you will find beat 1. Some say start counting when the vocal start; that is beat 1. (Unfortunately not always.) And the useless suggestions go on.

Some will say keep listening to a music and connect the count with a vocal part which is 1 (first identified it by your teacher) and keep counting an eventually you get the recognition skill intuitively. Also, they add that you have to move your foot or hand at 1, not enough just saying it.

This last method is probably the best, but some songs still remain mysteries. This is just my humble observation. I am sure Jonathan can correct me and point you to a better method.

At any rate, let us know which method works for you.
Re: Finding the beat
Posted by obakeassassin
3/3/2015  5:25:00 PM
A few comments and some suggestions:

Songs Vary: some songs just have a steady beat, others have a pronounced pattern that will make the difference of feeling on or off. Depending on the dance, being off may feel fine until you will miss each major transition such as speed or intensity (being off by half a cycle, or worse by a few beats).

Examples of what to look for:
*A waltz with a pronounced downbeat on 1 & softer 2-2-3: ONE!-2-3, 2-2-3 -VS- no perceptible difference: 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3...

*a foxtrot/swing vs a lindy: does the music have a cue for the quick step? slow-slow-quick-quick vs lindy 1 2 3&4, 5 6 7&8 (-VS-steady 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 with no indication)
**Good practice song: 1234 by Feist (it even counts for you!)**

*where does the music transition: If there is a dramatic change, the music may warn it is coming, but the change should actually occur on the 1 (usually).



Other tips:
*Listen & Count Out Loud! rather than dance: don't try to do too much. (Yes, the follows should typically have an easier time than someone trying to plan a next step or more)

*(non-waltz) Start bobbing or tapping to the steady part of the beat (I use my foot), then add in the count by feeling (i add in emphasis with an air guitar or drumming, then use that to find the 1).

*foxtrot/swing: sometimes Slow-Slow-Quick-Quick (or rock-step) is easier, other times 1-2,3-4,5,6 is easier.

*AVOID Dubstep while honing this skill: it plays with sound and is likely to do tricky things, for example lindy to Sail...

*In dance, don't let yourself drop steps while doing a move. Keep the count with your feet.

*Worry about the 1's, half-way points, the last step, or quick-steps (what do the dance steps naturally emphasize?). The evens and odds are way too much to try to track.

*listen for the quick-quick or step-AND-step (which means either the start or the half-way is next!)

*listen to a song, find the count, and WALK around moving in any direction to the count. Break out of the standard dance form and learn to instinctively step to the count wherever you move.

*Unless it is for competition, dancing is social. Don't be so focused on succeeding or failing the music's count that you break YOUR dance. (sometimes the music is even a hindrance)

Story: I have danced to a song with a periodic halt that my partner and I missed each time and then did when the music withheld the halt and it was a lot of fun for both of us listening, trying and totally bombing it.




*final recommendation: get a group of friends, put a song on with a recognizable count.
Get on count and start dancing and doing moves. Focus on checking that you are on right part of the count.
If you get off, correct it (don't stop and restart, rather, correct while still dancing).
If you are off and don't seem to realize it or correct it soon, your friends standing around watching should be listening to the music and watching you. They start saying the count out loud ("one two three-And-four five six seven-and-eight") until you have corrected and seem to be stable on count.
Start easy and go more difficult.
(optional) After a little while, perhaps have a friend start bumping into you while you are dancing (not your partner). You must keep the count even while they attempt moderately to interrupt your normal step pattern.
*this does 2 things: helps you hear the count, and helps you fix it amid a dance.
Re: Finding the beat
Posted by nloftofan1
3/4/2015  9:50:00 AM
One suggestion: instrumental music. Sometimes singers sing ahead of or behind the beat. That's fine, musically, but it makes finding the beat that much harder.

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