Find the Beat of Music

Don’t Get Caught Dancing Off Beat

Right on Time!

By Treva Bedinghaus,:

Finding the beat of music is often one of the most difficult tasks facing new dancers. The ability to pick out the beat of a song is important when learning how to keep time to music. Timing in dance is a critical skill a successful dancer must learn through practice. Dance timing is especially critical for partner dances, as both you and your partner will depend on each other to hit certain moves at precisely the same point in the music.

Beats and Rhythm

As soon as you can pick out the beat of a particular song, you will be well on your way to becoming a great dancer. A beat is the basic time unit of a piece of music. A sequence of beats is referred to as the rhythm, or groove, of a song. Most often, music is characterized by both strong (stressed) and weak (unstressed) beats. The speed at which these beats occur is known as tempo.

Finding the Beat

The first step in finding the beat of music is to listen for the stronger beats. Perhaps you hear a group of four beats, with the first beat seeming a little “louder” or “stronger” than the next three. Look at the following set of beats:

ONE two three four
ONE two three four

Now try clapping your hands to the stronger, louder beat, and stomping your feet to the next three, weaker beats. You should be clapping once and stomping three times: this is the beat.

The best way to become good at finding the beat is to listen to lots of music. With time and practice, you will soon be keeping time to music without even trying.


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