Arthur Murray Dance Center of Cranford
  • 02/05/2016
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The Arthur Murrays’ Dance Secrets: Tips To Keeping Time

You Can Learn To Keep Time!

People sometimes like to brag about their deficiencies. They will say, proudly: “I have terrible handwriting” …or… “I have no memory—I can never think of a person’s name.” In the studio, we often hear this said: “But, I can’t carry a tune on a bet!”

The ability to carry a tune is not a necessary factor in learning to dance. To dance, you must simply be able to keep time to the music. And if you can march to band music—you can keep time to dance music.

The unfortunate belief that they have “no sense of rhythm” keeps many people from enjoying the pleasures of dancing. Yet, every normal person is born with a sense of rhythm. In some cases, it may need developing but it’s there. Forget about the idea that you must have a knowledge of music—nine out of ten good dancers don’t know one note from another, yet they can keep time.

If You Can’t Carry a Tune

Remember this: dancers do not keep time to the melody or the tune of a song. The high and low notes have nothing to do with it. The count in dancing is determined by the beat or tempo of the music.

So, if you can’t sing, hum, or whistle a simple tune like “Yankee Doodle”, don’t despair. It won’t keep you from becoming a good dancer, although it should keep you from singing in your partner’s ear!

Here are two simple ways to train yourself to keep time:

  1. Beat time with your foot.

Sit next to your radio and listen to any dance music. Imagine that you are the drummer and simply beat time with your foot on the floor as though you were hitting the pedal of the bass drum. Tap your hand on the chair arm at the same time. Keep tapping to different types of music until it becomes automatic to follow the drum beat.

  1. Walk in time to Foxtrot music.

After you have learned to beat time, walk around the room, dancing one step to each beat. Do this in private, so that you will not feel self-conscious. Try talking to several different songs. In a surprisingly short while, your feet will “carry the tune” easily.

And that’s all there is to keeping time in music!

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