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  1. #1
    V.I.P. jenc's Avatar
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    Default Do I need to learn to count?

    You need to make sure you count steps, be in time, arms, body, face, head, everything must be in-sync. Its not enough to dance for yourself. You are visual art on a stage and this perfection in the dance must be strived for.
    I wholeheartedly agree with the above criticism, but do I need to learn to count to do it??

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    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Depends how you mean counting - IMHO if you are up there on stage counting what your feet, arms, head etc are doing then you a) haven't practised and/or listened to your music enough, or b) are waaaay cleverer than me, 'cos I can't count that many things and walk in a straight line even.

    Maybe this is just my learning style. I do rely on counting when I'm learning a new dance in class because it takes me a while to get my ear round the music sometimes, or pick up on the part we are dancing to (melody, rhythm, accents etc.). Once I can hear it in the music and know where it's going I don't bother any more, but it can take a long time if the music has an unfamiliar structure to it.

    I did a live tabla workshop recently; everything was groups of 4 or 8 so if you couldn't hear when the change was due you had to count the bars, or you would mess up. And confuse the drummer.

    So I'd say if you get the structure/phrasing etc of the music and can translate that into movements being in the right place, then you don't need to be going 1-2-3-4 in your head.

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    Totally agree--that kind of counting in your head is just a tool or crutch. If it helps you learn, great, use it. Otherwise, don't bother. The end result should NOT be counting in your head.

    Similarly I sometimes hear my teacher's voice going along with the music "ball-ball-flat-flat....bi-i-i-i-g circle and a half" but that's just another tool as well.

    Cathy

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    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenc View Post
    I wholeheartedly agree with the above criticism, but do I need to learn to count to do it??
    No. Counting is a tool to learn someone else's choreography - and even then many Egyptian teachers cannot count their own choreography they "just do it" and fit it into the music. Listen to the music. Feel the beat - or the melody or the lyrics and stay true to that not a "count". Also, much ME music does not have a constant count - it'll swap and sway between time signatures and bridge bits.

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    V.I.P. jenc's Avatar
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    the above is advice to me on how to improve my dancing.

    I personally think that counting is the way to just miss the beat, that for anything except a drum machine, the organic nature of music produces almost imperceptible variations of the beat that may only show up because you count.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kashmir View Post
    No. Counting is a tool to learn someone else's choreography - and even then many Egyptian teachers cannot count their own choreography they "just do it" and fit it into the music. Listen to the music. Feel the beat - or the melody or the lyrics and stay true to that not a "count". Also, much ME music does not have a constant count - it'll swap and sway between time signatures and bridge bits.

    Exactly, I read that Mona Said is still refusing/being unable to count the dance. And during those many years I was studying in Egypt nobody counted.
    I myself count only for beginners (western students demand counting), advanced students should learn to listen - the music will tell them what to do. I still hold the opinion that counting takes the "soul out" of the dance.

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    V.I.P. jenc's Avatar
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    OK so do you count a new rythm to fit dance steps to?

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    V.I.P. Caroline_afifi's Avatar
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    I think everyone should learn counting but not use it to dance with.

    I was taught counting and understanding Arabic (and all other) music and this helped me so much.

    It is the music we need to be able to understand and it is important to be able to recognise a 2/4 4/4 9/11 6/8 etc.

    Studying music for me is as important as studing the steps or technique.

    Working with musicians creating live performances (not gigs because they dont give a sh*T!) was a huge learning curve for me and I actively encourage people to attend music workshops even if you have no intention of ever holding an instrument.
    Last edited by Caroline_afifi; 03-09-2009 at 09:21 AM.

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    V.I.P. Mya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caroline_afifi View Post
    I think everyone should learn counting but not use it to dance with.

    *shnip*

    It is the music we need to be able to understand and it is important to be able to recognise a 2/4 4/4 9/11 6/8 etc.

    Studying music for me is as important as studing the steps or technique.
    I completely agree that if you have the opportunity to learn music and understand time signatures etc that it can only help you to understand and respond to the music better. But no counting steps!

    Even for those of us who don't understand what 2/4 etc means - i still say NO counting. I refuse to count for my ladies. The first thing we do when we're going to start a choreography is listen to the song. I sit with them and point out cues etc that indicate changes. That way they start to feel for themselves where the movements change in the choreography and even what they change to.

    These ladies are beginners only dancing for about a year this month and they've made me very proud in the last 6 months because now they can hear for themselves some cues and nuances in music and they respond to that instead of learning a sequence of movements.

    To me, developing the ear is just as important as being able to count.

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    V.I.P. karena's Avatar
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    Just had a bit of a lightbulb moment here re counting (for me anyway)!

    I'm a musician, so I cannot understand people not being able to count (not not counting, but not even being able to count if they tried). But I've just realised that when I count I am doing it in a subconscious way not a conscious way. The stuff people are saying about feeling the music, feeling the beat, hearing the cues etc., that is what I do, it's just I would call is counting from musical training. So, I don't go 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4 in my head, but at any point I would be able to say what that beat is, as I can't help but feel that beat. A 1 sounds like a 1, as does a 2, 3 or 4.

    So when hearing music I now naturally hear where the bars are, where the phrases are, the time signature, whether it is on or off the beat etc, when it changes time signature or key etc. Of course you can hear all that without knowing any of those terms but I am trained to apply those terms.

    Don't know how this is even helpful to anyone, but I know it always makes me feel slightly unhappy when people dismiss counting completely, and I've now realised it's because people are seeing counting as artificial whereas I think it can just be a way of framing what others are doing too. So don't be hard on the counters!

    (Re missing the beat if you count, if I specifically count music (let's say I am playing in an orchestra and have to count my 10 bars rest) I count what the rest of the orchestra are doing. I don't put my fingers in my ears and count like a metronome. So those imperceptible variations are perceived.)

    (And re the changing time signatures in ME music, this happens in western music too. But you can still count. I've sat in orchestras and had to count my bars rest alternating between 3/4 and 4/4 before!)

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