"I can't dance. I have no rhythm."
I've heard this comment a lot from people at their first dance lessons. We tend to think that having a good sense of rhythm is an inborn ability rather than an ability that you can acquire through practice. The truth is everyone can learn how to read music and develop a better sense of rhythm. First, you need to find the beat in a song and this post will show you how.
What is a beat? How to find it?
Think of the ticking sound of a clock. The ticking of a clock is consistent and so is the beat of a song. While you don't normally hear the clock ticking unless the room is really quiet and you intentionally focus on the sound, finding the beat of a song is similar to that. The lyrics are like the TV in your living room. Before you can hear the more subtle sounds in your room, you have to turn off the TV. So, when you listen to a song, try not to pay attention to the lyrics or melody but find the base of the song and you will find the beat.
Exercise to Help You Find the Beat of a Song
1. Find a pop song that has a strong base/beat. Any club music and songs from the 80's would work.
2. On a piece of paper, write the numbers 1 to 8.
3. Play the song and tap the beats on your paper.
Check out this video as I show you how to count the beats of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean".
Once you get good at finding the beat in songs with strong beats, you can move on to other songs that have more quiet beats, such as this song:
Most songs can be counted in sets of 8, but not all of them. Here is an example of a song that has to be counted in sets of 6 (Waltz Timing).
Practice Makes Perfect
You will find it easier and easier as you practice counting to more songs. Eventually, you will be able to hear the beat as soon as a song begins. And once you get good at tapping with your finger, you should also tap with your foot and eventually engage your whole body until you feel like you are moving, or dancing, to the beat of a song! Happy Dancing!
P.S. I hope this post is helpful to those of you who have problems finding the beat in a song. Need more help?
The Duet Team is a group of friendly dancers who are passionate about helping people and sharing the joy of ballroom dance. And we love to make new friends and have fun at work! Our studio, Duet Dance Studio, is a boutique studio located in Chicago West Bucktown. We offer ballroom dance lessons, wedding dance instruction and kids dance classes. Skype dance lessons are also available! Dances we teach include Salsa, Swing, Tango, Bachata, Merengue, Waltz and Foxtrot. Sign up for an introductory dance lesson now to get started!