“This is my husband. Good luck with him. To put it nicely, he’s rhythmically challenged.” If you asked any ballroom dance instructor if they ever heard that before, you’d get a good laugh. That’s because we hear it every day! Of course, many people believe they have no rhythm. The issue really is they don’t know how to find the beat.
To begin with, the beat is the pulse of the music. And, it has nothing to do with the tempo (the speed of the music) or the rhythm (how the music is accented).
To be sure, some people have no problem identifying the beat. But guess what? It’s something you have to learn. For most people it doesn’t come naturally.
Speaking of beats, please take a minute to read the Dance Safari post, “My Heart Beats to the Rhythm of Love“.
Dancing to the beat of the music is more important than knowing a bunch of steps.
The best dance teachers know that no matter how many steps you know, you’ll be considered rhythmically challenged if you can’t find the beat.
Expressing the music feels great. But, it won’t feel good or natural if you struggle to find the beat. Embrace the teacher who has the knowledge and courage to keep at it until you get it. Working until he or she utters the exact words that will send you to beat heaven. And moving with a partner in time with the music is just that – heavenly.
Songs are written with three distinctive parts:
TOP: Vocals or lead instrumentalist
MIDDLE: Melody – band, orchestra, or chorus
BOTTOM: Beat – drums, percussion, bass, or guitar
To begin, concentrate on identifying each layer. Most of the time finding the top layer is easy, just listen for the words. Next, the middle will be the music. And finally, the bottom layer, the beat.
How to find the beat. (Hint: use this metronome.)
To find the beat, the first thing to do is identify the tick-tock in the music. It sounds like a clock. You can really hear the tick-tock when you choose Two or Simple on the metronome linked above. For this reason, I recommend that you begin with either of those two settings.
Sometimes the beat will be fast, sometimes slow. The easiest way to practice would be to sway your body, tap your feet, or clap your hands. Experts recommend that you spend 5 or 10 minutes a day with the different beat patterns. Not an unpleasant assignment!