Are you rhythmically challenged?
Can’t hear the beat? Lack musicality?
I used to be rhythmically challenged. Then I found an extraordinary teacher, Swing Dance Hall of Famer Skippy Blair. She taught me how to connect to music. Really, rhythm is teachable! As Skippy says, it’s not a lack of ability, it’s a lack of education.
How to hear the beat
Here’s the secret to hearing the beat: learn to count the sets of 8. Most of the music you hear every day is structured in sets of 8 beats. Sets of 8 define the beat. So if you can identify the sets of 8, you’ve found the beat.
HERE’S THE KICKER: Once you get good at hearing the sets of 8, you’ll be able to predict where the music is going. Studies show that you enjoy a song more if you can predict where it’s going. So improving your musicality will make listening to music more enjoyable—even if you’re just lying on the couch listening to tunes.
Here’s some good news: You’ve probably heard sets of 8 your whole life and didn’t know what they were. Check out this four-minute video of me counting sets of 8. Listen for just 30 seconds and see if hearing the sets of 8 is something you already know:
Check out some free stuff
If you poke around my website you can find more info on the beat, on rhythm and survival dancing. Here is some of my better content:
- How to hear the beat – blog posts and more
- *START HERE* – learn some dance basics, plus I reveal one of the secrets to understanding dance
- Slow dancing – the one dance every guy wishes he could do
- Wedding dance – egads, you could end up on YouTube, don’t screw this up
- If you can’t dance or your dancing truly sucks, here’s a blog post on how to survive: “11 Ways to be the ballroom dance partner women love–even if you can’t dance”
If you’re learning to dance and are struggling, my book, Every Man’s Survival Guide to Ballroom Dancing, can help. You can check out the Table of Contents here (includes links to some free chapters).
Here’s some of what’s in the book:
- How to overcome your fear of the dance floor
- How to hear the beat and become more musical
- How to understand rhythm patterns (the pattern of weight changes)
- How to count a step pattern and how it differs from counting music
- How to decipher all the verbal calls that dance teachers throw at you
- How to survive a dance, any dance
- How to dance comfortably with anyone
- How to slow dance and how to do a simple wedding dance
- Ladies, despite the title, this book will help you too!
Buy this thing
I humbly offer a few links if you want to buy the book. You’re free to email me if you have questions or if anything in the book is not clear:
My next book, coming soon, will go more into the beat, including the structure of music (phrasing). There will be instructional videos with music on YouTube. The book will be for non-musicians. In other words, I’m keeping it simple.
Dancers of all disciplines, ballroom to ballet, need to hear the structure to do choreography. This is also true for improvisational partner dancing, like doing swing or salsa for fun. It’s also true if you’re a club dancer (hip hop, freestyle, rock ‘n roll, etc.). When you understand the structure you’ll know when to start a move and when to finish a move, which will seriously up your game.
The book will not be just for dancers. If you do any of the dance fitness routines (aerobics, zumba, etc.), you need to know the structure of music. The testimonial at the bottom from a person training to be a fitness instructor captures the essence of connecting to the music.
Wait, wait, there’s more. Even if you just run or lift weights, music can help. From the budding field of biomusicality:
When listening to music, people run farther, bike longer and swim faster than usual—often without realizing it.
Ferris Jabr, Scientific American - March 20, 2013
A testimonial from a fitness instructor
Here’s the experience of Kendra P. who was training to be a fitness instructor. She’s commenting on the existing content in my website, which will be expanded upon in the upcoming book:
I stumbled upon your blog/website when I did a YouTube search for “counting 8 beats in music.” I recently attended a PiYo Strength Training (which is a fitness training) and the instructor told me to work on musicality. I have been a dancer my whole life, but somehow managed to memorize and rely on the lyrics, rather than listening to and “feeling” the music…silly, I know! I feel confident in the physical aspect of the teaching, but I was really uncomfortable with the counting beats portion. In a fitness class, it is very evident when the instructor does not know how to count to music…the class seems very choppy and feels like it doesn’t flow. I definitely didn’t want to be that instructor! I read through your website word for word and watched all of your videos and Skippy’s video. It has helped me so very much! I really appreciate you taking the time to write such a descriptive, detailed tutorial on dancing and music. My friend was telling me once the beats are pointed out, you will say, “oh, duh! Why didn’t I hear that before?!” And it’s very true….after watching your videos and watching your hand motions, it’s so obvious now!
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