In this article, we will explore four steps to finding proper salsa rhythm and timing.
This article will cover the salsa timing’s fundamental features: the rhythm without much discussion about the music’s actual counts. Many people say that to discover the rhythm, you just have to feel the song. And for some people, this tip is good enough. It is true; some people are just generally gifted to have the inspiration and ability to “feel” the rhythm. However, for others observing and “feeling” the salsa rhythm and timing is a skill you have to develop. If you are like me and belong to the latter group, read on.
- Trust, Relax, And Set Your Intention On Exploring The Rhythm: Rhythms are a fundamental part of who we are. Our bodies naturally operate in certain rhythms; our hearts automatically beat in a set rhythm; we have an internal sleeping rhythm and the circadian rhythm. To recognize our heartbeat, we only need to unwind and shift our consciousness to recognize it. If you are not paying attention to your heartbeat, you might not even realize it first. To do so, you need to relax and shift your attention inwards. This same idea applies to learning to “feel” salsa beat. To hear the salsa, you first have to shift your awareness to the song. Remember that just like your heartbeat, the salsa’s rhythms are there fixed in the music. All you have to do to feel them is to shift your awareness to them.
- Have A Mental Perception Of The Rhythm: The rhythm of salsa regardless of the way you choose to count it or emphasize the counts goes: quick, quick, slow, quick, quick, slow. Having a mental understanding of this rhythmic pattern will help you further to recognize it in the music. As I said in the first step, verbalizing this rhythmically out loud with someone who already understands salsa music will help you tremendously in finding the rhythm. But nowadays you can also find great salsa timing CD’s, DVD’s, YouTube videos, or maybe the best option of all from an on-line learning course to help you get started.
- Verbalize The Rhythm Along As You Hear The Music: The most important thing whether someone else is counting the music for you or you are learning from a salsa timing CD or an on-line learning course, is that you begin as soon as possible verbally expressing the rhythm and/or counting along with the music. This practice will reinforce your ability to recognize and stay in the rhythm. There is absolutely no substitute for this practice. Even the people who say they just “feel” the music has at some point or another been conscious about the music and through repeatedly hearing it they have overtime learned to just “feel” it.
- Practise, Practise, Practise: Don’t expect yourself to just listen one or two songs and then be able to instantly recognize and stay in the rhythm of salsa, especially without conscious effort. It can takes years of conscious practice and effort for this process to become completely natural and automatic. Just like learning to drive the stick shift, at first it is complicated and it takes conscious effort before it becomes automatic, it is the same thing in learning to recognize and continue to stay in the rhythm when you are dancing salsa. But once you master salsa timing, you will never forget it.