Teaching people to hear music (not while DJing)

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yedancer
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Teaching people to hear music (not while DJing)

#1 Post by yedancer » Mon Apr 19, 2004 7:18 am

I have a friend who I'm teaching some basic dance steps to. Unfortunately, he has trouble "hearing" the music. He has no idea when the 1 is, and in fact I think he may even have trouble hearing the beat.

He wants me to help him learn how to "hear" the music. Any suggestions on how to go about doing this? I figured I would get a song with a very clear beat and start from there. Any ideas on good songs to use in that regard?
-Jeremy

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mark0tz
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#2 Post by mark0tz » Mon Apr 19, 2004 7:25 am

give him a cd to listen to in the car. encourage him to clap along... try to find the general beat, and hopefully he'll develop a sense for where 1 is... really i think immersion is the way to get through with someone having big problems finding the beat.
Mike Marcotte

Nate Dogg
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#3 Post by Nate Dogg » Mon Apr 19, 2004 7:43 am

This example was for texas two step, but it still can be applied to swing.

When I first started dancing, I had trouble hearing the beat. As a guide, I used to watch one of the more experienced dancers, I would see how he would dance to a song and use that as a guide.

I literally would let him get out there for 30 seconds or so, before I asked somebody and started dancing. I was not copying his moves, just using him to validate my perception of the beat.

So, find a local dancer who has good timing and does not fudge footwork too much.

Nathan
Last edited by Nate Dogg on Mon Apr 19, 2004 7:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

mousethief
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#4 Post by mousethief » Mon Apr 19, 2004 7:45 am

I certainly don't have flawless rhythm but I know I was helped when the music was simple - there's your Dj issue - and when people actually clapped during jams or competitions.

Kalman
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kitkat
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#5 Post by kitkat » Mon Apr 19, 2004 7:51 am

Of course, people clap on the upbeat (and those who don't make that funny echo you hear sometimes). So you've got to know that 1 comes between claps.

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#6 Post by Roy » Mon Apr 19, 2004 8:22 am

7 years ago I can remember not being able to hear the 1’s or the paragraphs in the music. I was in a class with Paul and Sharon and she was talking can you hear that winding, and I could not here what she was talking about. It took me about 6 months to finally get it. I would listen to music, any music in the car and try and catch the phrasing, when I went to dance clubs of other styles I would try and catch the phrasing while freestyle dancing, I would practice creative footwork at home to swing music and try to clap at each one and later at the beginning of each paragraph.

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#7 Post by Toon Town Dave » Mon Apr 19, 2004 8:52 am

I subscribe to the listen and move to lots of music idea, especially swing music assuming we're talking swing that will help a lot.

Like Kalman suggested, simple music is better. When I was a newbie, I'd be going good for several bars and then lose it on the breaks. It was a point of frustration until I got used to really listening to the music. Also it helps if the horns and stuff are playing fairly tight with the rhythm and not off doing wild solos then one can pick up the basic beat from any instrument.

Some teachers like to use music with seismic beats with drums or bass which helps newbies but IMO is a crutch that hinders later on. When I teach, I prefer a clean, simple not so in your face beat. Billy May's Lean Baby and Lucky Millinder's Apollo Jump are tracks that I've used when I teach and they work fairly well. Alex Pangman's They Say is a good one with vocals.

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#8 Post by mousethief » Mon Apr 19, 2004 9:00 am

Also, people who have problems with swing rhytm generally have all sorts of problems with rhythm, period. I might expose them to swing using familiar songs, then go see a live band - maybe a live blues band. Blues is a simple, repetitive structure that most people can internalize. Then go listen to some Basie and tie it all back together.

Above all, encourage them to dance, snap their fingers, do something to the music - especially by themselves.

Kalman
"The cause of reform is hurt, not helped, when an activist makes an idiotic suggestion."

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#9 Post by julius » Mon Apr 19, 2004 11:12 am

he's got to do the grunt work of listening to lots of music and responding with his body to it. it's unnatural for most people* these days to exhibit any sort of reaction to music other than singing along in the car.

i would even go so far as to suggest giving him indigo swing CDs. it worked for thousands of us, why not him?

*uh, most non-ethnic people anyway. by which i mean whitey. and his asian brutha. hehehe.

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#10 Post by LindyChef » Mon Apr 19, 2004 12:06 pm

julius wrote:he's got to do the grunt work of listening to lots of music and responding with his body to it. it's unnatural for most people* these days to exhibit any sort of reaction to music other than singing along in the car.

[snip]

*uh, most non-ethnic people anyway. by which i mean whitey. and his asian brutha. hehehe.
ROFL ... I guess that means that I'm SOL-ed when in the car and practicing breaks, eh?

I did start off with no rhythm (and after five years I still find myself lacking at times) and even after a few months worth of lessons I was deathly afraid of embarassing myself out on the dance floor. So what I did was listen to the music everywhere I went and practiced the rhythm with my fingers ... and when I was at home I would practice for an hour each night after lessons.

Of course, it helps to be paranoid ...

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kitkat
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#11 Post by kitkat » Mon Apr 19, 2004 12:08 pm

Ooh! I know what helped me become conscious of it. I'm a musician since childhood, so you'd think I would've caught on quickly, but actually, I didn't put two and two ("beginning of a measure" and "that place where it feels right") together until a private dance lesson.

I'd known that there was an A phrase, another A phrase, a B phrase, and an A phrase, but Frida taught me that within each phrase, there was an A 2-measure section, another A 2-measure section, a third A 2-measure section, and a B 2-measure section. She told me this so that instead of having to respond instantly to the music when I was dancing solo charleston, I could fudge by changing my footwork in the last two measures and look like I heard something cool.

I listened to 20's music a lot and tried to hear those patterns. Once someone gets to the point where he/she can hear the repetitions, he/she could start counting "1" with the first note of an "A" 2-measures being repeated. From there, it's just counting along with the music until numbers and phrases go together subconsciously. (This assumes said dancer can already keep a beat while counting.)

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CafeSavoy
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Re: Teaching people to hear music (not while DJing)

#12 Post by CafeSavoy » Mon Apr 19, 2004 12:23 pm

yedancer wrote:Any ideas on good songs to use in that regard?
"Easy Does It" by Basie and Friends.

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#13 Post by Doug » Mon Apr 19, 2004 12:30 pm

But there are some songs - especially riff based pieces - where NOBODY can miss the 1 and the phrasing. Is this what you are looking for??

I have a list (at home, not with me now) of these I use to teach beginners. One example that I recall off hand is Gettin' in the Groove - played by Al Cooper &/or Panama Francis. It has a riff that starts on 1 and goes to 8 and is exceptionally clear in this process. In fact, the phrasing is so strong that it feels very awkward -even to beginners who are otherwise phrase challenged- to dance six count moves to the song.

At the other extreme are songs like Webster's Kat's Fur that are very difficult for most dancers to follow. If I remember correctly, Kat's Fur is based around several riffs, some starting on 1 and some on 3 and some who knows where. And I can almost guarantee that NO phrase challanged dancer can keep track of / find the one in this song.

So indeed, careful song selection is very important

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#14 Post by scowl » Mon Apr 19, 2004 12:36 pm

In a private many years ago, I got an instructor so desperate for ideas that he literally grabbed me and bounced me like a basketball through half a song. It sounds stupid but it worked. I suddenly understood swing rhythm after that. I still don't understand why I couldn't get it before.

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#15 Post by mousethief » Mon Apr 19, 2004 12:45 pm

Now if you do a barrell roll off the wrong side in a workshop, the instructor can knock off your cover.

At least, back in '98...

Kalman
"The cause of reform is hurt, not helped, when an activist makes an idiotic suggestion."

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