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Counting music when dancing


Aixsta
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Hi!

hopefully this time I have posted to the right place :)

 

I have onky been dancing for a short time and am having trouble counting music when I dance. I struggle to grasp the contrast of using counts when dancing. Example would be when the dance teacher uses only counts to run through the dance. When I practice I listen to lyrics or key parts in the music and have not been thinking about counting the music.

I really want to be able to count music and dance to it before next year when the dance classes start again. 

Thankyou :)

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I managed to learn to count music pretty well but only as a result of several years of violin lessons and a year of tap dance classes. Not everyone is a counter though - we’ve one teacher who has to consciously do it when teaching curriculum to those of us who are. 

 

I’d recommend a hunt around YouTube for music theory classes on listening to beat or pulse to get the idea, and then just listen for it in music - ballet curriculum music normally has an obvious beat in the lower grades. 

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I'd suggest listening to lots of appropriate music and tapping a foot or finger while counting (usually to 8 but sometimes 6). As Coleman said above, most ballet curriculum music is obvious, though usually gets less so at more advanced levels (sometimes deliberately diabolically tricky!). I've noticed that different people may also perceive the counts differently. Of course a teacher , choreographer or set exam exercise will give you the counts in a particular way and then you need to listen and relisten to the music until you can "hear" it in the way it has been set. The counts may also be a useful shorthand for talking about the steps (eg "make sure you pass though bras bas on count 7") in the same that a musician might talk about what happens in Bar 12. 

 

However some people feel that counting encourages a very mechanical response to the music and there is a move within the RAD at least to move towards different ways of finding your way through the music. Counting is not the best way to be aware of and express the phrasing the music, which is not  nesessarily the same thing as neat sets of 8 counts, and your way of thinking about it may well be a better way of finding an expressive response than counting. I personally only count when it's tricky or complicated and even then usually only while first learning a piece.

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If you can download some ‘ music for ballet class’ from i tunes, it will usually tell you if a piece is 2/4, 4/4 12/8. etc. By listening to the music over and over, you will get to familiarise yourself with the  different time signatures and the phrasing and style. You could also check out some classes on ‘ you tube ‘ such as Royal Ballet on World Ballet Day and notice how the teacher counts through the exercises.

Usually, dancers count in threes for time signatures with multiples of 3’s - 3/4, 6/8,12/8. So, 1&a  2&a 3&a... up to 8&a, It makes a nice continuous feeling like little circles if you do them with your finger. The heavy beat is usually the 1st beat of the bar( but that can sometimes change depending)

For 2/4, 4/4  - dancers would count 1&2&3&4... up to 8. It is a more decisive beat and can best be described by moving your finger straight up and down in a straight line.

Apologies for the very basic explanation but it’s a very complex question!! The counting usually becomes intrinsic to the dancer, but is more conscious for the teacher/ choreographer. You may not be interested in ballet, but it’s a good place to start as all styles follow a similar pattern.

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Most music is in either 4/4 time (4 beats a bar - eg most pop songs) or 3/4 time (3 beats a bar - eg the waltz). If you play some music and clap along, you will get the hang of it pretty quickly. There are other variations, but those two are the most common.

 

4/4 time will often have 8 beats, so count: one-and-two-and-three-and-four-and.  

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A lot of ballet exercises at the barre seem to be to the overall count of eight.

 

I don't know whether there is some subliminal counting going on for me but otherwise I don't usually count any more.

There is a sort of Rythym to any particular exercise set which goes with the phrasing of the music set ...so I seem to dance this way....not really counting ....well not overtly anyway. Some teachers are more into the counting of music and others more into the phrasing and dynamics of the exercise to the music. There is often more than one way of hearing the music anyway eg: whether you finish exactly on the final beat or fractionally before so in repose on the final beat as it were or whether you start on the first beat or on the "and" just before the first beat etc......often depending on how the teacher wants the dynamics in the exercise to be. 

As you do more dancing I'm sure you will gradually find this easier.

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