I’m James Joseph–call me Jim–an author and rhythm coach. I write how-to books. When I learn something new, I like to “hack” it—find a clever and simple way to do it—and write about that.
I first cracked the code to music and dance in my 2010 book, Every Man’s Survival Guide to Ballroom Dancing. I went deeper into music in my 2018 book, Hear the Beat, Feel the Music: Count, Clap and Tap Your Way to remarkable Rhythm.
My other books include Read Your Way to the Top (how to speed read), The Kreplachness Monster (Yiddish humor) and Working Wonders: 60 Quick Break Techniques to Beat Burnout, Boost Productivity and Revive Your Work Day (how to relax at work).
I used to be just like many of you: rhythmically challenged. Even though I loved music, I always felt like an outsider. While I wanted to get more comfortable with music, I didn’t want to become a musician or some music geek who could name every Rolling Stones album. Heck, I just wanted to tap my foot at a concert without feeling self-conscious. Plus, I wanted to lose my fear of the dance floor. But there’s no class on “How to Get Rhythm” offered in schools or dance studios or at rec centers (I repeat: you won’t learn music in a dance class). So I had to learn it on my own.
I followed the path of dance choreographers, not musicians (music theory). I’ve now trained for more than 20 years under Swing Dance Hall of Fame member Skippy Blair. And I’m now a GSDTA certified dance instructor.
My mission is to teach people how to hear the beat of music, discover their natural rhythm and begin moving to music. In the process, it’s also my goal that you, quite simply, start to enjoy music more. Scientific studies have shown that humans have a natural connection to music. So it’s likely you can learn to connect to music and become more rhythmic.
My specialty is helping those who are rhythmically challenged or, to put it bluntly, those who “ain’t got no rhythm.” I can also help people who have some rhythm but need to elevate their connection to music, especially those who need it in their vocation or avocation, like aerobics instructors (and others in dance fitness), deejays, musicians, singers and all types of dancers (from partner dancing, like swing and salsa, to ballet to club dancing).
Funny thing, despite my website address—ihatetodance.com—I now embrace the dance floor. Dancing is one of those social skills that everybody should know. I especially like to share my knowledge on ways to hack your way through a dance. I’ve done a little bit of guest-blogging on that subject for New York Times bestselling author Neil Strauss. Here are three articles:
Dancing, which is common in the animal world as a mating ritual, really does have social value. It’s the original speed dating! I did an article on that for JDate: 5 Ways Dancing Can Improve Your Dating.
Hey, get this: The Wall Street Journal even interviewed me for a piece they did on dance, “Learn to Dance at Social Events” (I’m in several paragraphs in the middle of the piece; unfortunately, you may need a subscription).
And get this: I used to be a guy who freaked out when confronted by a dance floor. But I’m now so comfortable dancing that I danced for charity in my town’s local version of “Dancing with the Stars” (note that my partner had never danced before).
It’s not uncommon to see macho male celebrities dance in the movies (even Humphrey Bogart danced with Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca). As a kid watching James Bond movies in the 1960s and 1970s I would think: James Bond—the manliest of men–can dance, why can’t I? I was determined to become an all-around, competent, social dancer who could, like James Bond, handle any situation.
So this became my goal on the dance floor, which I believe is an apt goal for anyone, man and woman, who takes pride in being a social person (and is tired of being a wallflower):
To be able to walk onto any dance floor, from a wedding to a nightclub to a New Year’s Eve ball to a cruise to a concert, and perform an admirable dance, with any partner, to any music, with confidence and grace.
If you have a question, throw me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Lan Bui (top photo)