Are You Rhythmically Challenged? Learn to Count the 8-Count

Counting the 8-count

The 8-count is like a “sentence” of music. It’s the secret to hearing the beat. Check out this 4-minute video of me counting the 8-count to some popular music:

Want to be confident (and cool) on the dance floor?

Then learn to count the 8-count. If you know the 8-count, then you can find count 1. From my book, Hear the Beat, Feel the Music: Count, Clap and Tap Your Way to Remarkable Rhythm (

“Start new moves on count 1 or count 5; then start the next new move on the next count 1. It’ll improve your connection to the music and make you a better dancer.”

Want to get rhythm (and enjoy music more)?

Then learn to count the 8-count, also known as a “set of 8” or a “dancer’s 8.” For the non-musician, it’s the foundation of music.

set of 8 aka 8-count or dancers-8
The secret to hearing the beat of music

An 8-count is a rhythmic grouping of 8 beats. Most of the music you hear every day — popular, mainstream, Western music — is structured in sets of 8 beats (waltz, an exception, is in sets of 6). The 8-count defines the beat. So, if you can count it, you’ve found the beat.

If the 8-count is so important, why don’t musicians use it?

True, musicians don’t use it — but professional dance choreographers do! This 5-minute video looks at the relationship between an 8-count and the musician’s 4-beat measure (from music theory):


  • Check out this webpage – – which is the playlist to all the instructional YouTube videos in my book, Hear the Beat, Feel the Music. It’s a free online course in music.
  • If you want more, buy the book – Hear the Beat, Feel the Music: Count, Clap and Tap Your Way to Remarkable Rhythm – because it will teach you everything you need to know about the 8-count. You’ll also learn: phrasing, musicality, clapping to music, how to identify a waltz, and more. (Amazon $11.95 – Kindle $2.99)
  • Check out this blog post on how to get started counting the sets of 8: “Where to learn: how to hear the beat of music”

Copyright © 2019  James Joseph. All rights reserved.

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